Sometimes in the horror genre a common theme appears over the series of years, for example a slasher movie catches the box-office attention and a slew of others flood the market, well in 1989, a weird element occurred, namely three movies with similar plots all taking place many miles down in the oceans. Those films were DeepStar Six, The Abyss, and this film Leviathan from director George P. Cosmatos (Of Unknown Origin ), all three celebrated their 30th-anniversary in 2019, and to clarify the first and last one closely resembles each other the horror genre, while The Abyss is a James Cameron creation a fantasy driven thriller. However, turning our attention to the production, the screenplay comes from two writers who never before and haven’t since return to the horror genre, first Jeb Stuart, most known for his action flicks, such as The Fugitive (1993) and David Webb Peoples, known his Academy Award Winning Unforgiven (1992) script. At the time when this film was in pre-production the fans of such publications as Fangoria issue #82 would read about another underwater creature feature, for many of us it was a thrill that this vast unknown world was becoming exposed to monsters. Nevertheless, looking back now, it’s another sad reminder of this flick, and how it mirrored others from that same year copied greatly from both Alien (1979) and The Thing (1982).
When one makes the statement that a film is nearly a rip-off of two spectacular sci-fi horror flicks, some clarification is greatly needed, instead of a camp in the Arctic we have the mining rig on the ocean floor. A group of men and women complaining about company versus union rules, and their bonuses and limited makeshift weapons they have to use in the steel corridors which is similar to that in Alien. Next, add in a gory genetic experimentation that takes the memory of others and you have The Thing meets Horror Express (1972), hence creating this mashup, which is only seven years after John Carpenter’s now cult flick.
The basics of the movie, if not already known, is placed several miles underwater, with a mining operation, conducted under the ship’s shack boss, Steven Beck (Peter Weller (Robocop )), who are on their 87th day of 90, tour of duty. After a down day (vacation day) shenanigans from Sixpack (Daniel Stern (C.H.U.D. )) and Willie (Amanda Pays (The Kindred )) they pull an extra shift for punishment, during which Sixpack falls off a small cliff, and later discovers a mysterious Russian ship called ‘Leviathan’ though they discover that the same ship is sailing in the Baltic Sea. Soon enough a medical experiment gone haywire on that vessel reappears on mining station. Meanwhile the cast is quite diverse complete with stereotypes, the bonding between them seems forced, even if they were near the breaking point there still a thread of connection, none of that chemistry presents itself. A standouts comes the comedic one-liners by Justin Jones (Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters )), who gives a more serious tone to adventure and Richard Crenna (The Evil ) portrays Dr. Thompson, who doesn’t take his job that serious before it’s too late. Of course, in a film like this, there needs to be a sinister corporate overseer, Ms. Martin (Meg Foster (31 )), who seems to know their peril thanks to the corporate computers, I suppose, unless it’s another plot hole that’s leaking water. By the end, the numbers are dwindling, and it all becomes a mad dash to leave the station, but the creature knows it too, as it has the memories and knowledge of its previous victims. Lastly, as the body count rises, so does the music cues and tempo from Jerry Goldsmith’s score, but looking for another classic Alien reference that’s from Cobb (Hector Elizondo (The Fan )), as the another monster burst from his chest just like it did to Kane; Cobb’s infection is almost that of zombie’s fingernails scratching him earlier in the flick, ugh, the refences keep adding as the movie sinks.
Let’s start with creature design, it appears in certain photos as a version of the legendary xenomorph, which incidentally Stan Winston worked on Aliens (1986), and Cosmatos went through a series of photos of marine life and medical reference books thereby combining body parts of man and deep sea to make a modified beast. It final look of the beast shown the screen shown by either smaller fish with rows of teeth or tentacles, the actual full size is never truly shown, except at the end and even then its partially in the water. Aside from the creature problem the rest of the story plays fine, with perhaps a tad too long of various scenes and the characters of then likely finding displeasure with modern audiences, namely the character Sixpack, whose corporate diving suit bears his nickname but that his name, dress and sexual harassment all deemed offensive, however face it, the 80s did contain a lot of so-called acceptable behaviors. The conclusion of the movie, throws everything at the screen, from explosions, to lack of oxygen to even a shark attack, and a final parting shot in the form of a line reference (with minor updating) to Jaws (1975).
The film fits into the b-movie realm nicely, but goes no further in discussion, it strives for scary thrill ride, with trying to create tension using the tight confines of the rig but never achieves a claustrophobic feel. The overall concept becomes another man versus a god-complex rather nature, where ultimately the goal to create a new fighting force of aqua-men but as always something goes dreadful wrong, however being buried at sea doesn’t stop the monster. It’s a simple popcorn pleasure, but be forewarned not to choke as the campiness is very overwhelming for this MGM released which drowned at the box office by $10-million from the original budget that came out 3-months after DeepStar Six.
- Aliens thrilled you… The Fly shocked you… Now experience real fear…
- Welcome to your worst nightmare, welcome to Leviathan
- It will leave you gasping for air…
- The true meaning of fear
IMDb rating: 5.8
Baron’s Rating: 5.0/10