Monday, 17 November 2014

Leviathan (1989)

























So back in 89 there was a spate of deep sea movies which included James Cameron's 'The Abyss', that movie was the only one to actually do well. I guess its a little ironic that the only other deep sea flick that was of any worth at this time was this movie which just happened to completely and utterly rip off Cameron's previous two mega hits of the era.

So the plot here is basically 'Alien' combined with 'Aliens' and 'The Abyss' along with various other horror movies such as 'The Thing'. A small team of undersea miners are on the ocean floor erm...mining stuff, when along the line one crew member discovers a sunken Russian vessel which contains a deadly secret. This turns out to be a mutagen of some kind that infects a crew member killing him, his body then begins to mutate into a sea creature and I'm sure you can guess how this goes.

The general idea is not completely identical to the James Cameron 80's filmography, the creature is basically a toxic mutant which is made up of the various dead crew members. This thing absorbs its victims intellect and is physically formed by the crew members bodies...or something like that. The crew members don't appear to be completely dead, more like trapped within this creatures body or they are being slowly absorbed/digested (?). Anyhow the visual design is not entirely shown in the movie, its kept out of sight and hidden behind lots of steel pipes, but what you do see revolves around tentacles (as usual) and snapping maws. The look of of the beast and the way it mutates does run along similar lines to John Carpenter's 'The Thing' where as everything else is 'Alien' within the set of 'The Abyss'.

Put it this way the special effects are a solid example of old fashioned hands-on craftsmanship with plenty of blood gore goo and body shock horror, the good old days. Despite the fact Stan Winston, Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. worked on the effects they aren't the best you will see, like I say they are solid and fun for fanboys of the craft but the other movies of the day were better examples. I think the creature is mostly hidden because they knew it wasn't too good, earlier in the film the smaller leech type things were effective but the main creature is a bit of a lifeless lump.

The deep sea base set does actually look pretty good with some obviously solid production values in play. Again if you think of the Nostromo and the Deep Core combined then you have a good idea of the visuals. Lots of metal corridors, pipes, gratings, the odd beige coloured medical bay, beige living quarters etc...its all too familiar really. I did like the deep sea diving suits they use which have a nice futuristic realistic look, more like space suits admittedly but that tends to be the way with these types of movies.



Although not actually filmed under the sea the film does look very good with some brilliant use of indoor sets, heavy mist and lighting, it does look as though its on the ocean floor. This is helped by good camera angles with the crew in their suits when walking around, a great submerged Russian shipwreck and lots of little floating bits in front of the camera to simulate the deep moving ocean.

I guess overall this movie is just way too much of a carbon copy of the other movies I've mentioned. The characters are all extremely cliched and look like they've just stepped off the set of the Alien franchise. Richard Crenna would be the Ash/Bishop character, Ernie Hudson is Parker, Daniel Stern would be Brett/Hudson, Eilbacher would be Lambert etc...and yes I did just mention Daniel Stern who was totally miscast incidentally oh and his characters name is Sixpack. Along with that the plot trundles by exactly the same as the Scott/Cameron flicks. I mean Exactly the same right down to the self destruct finale with loud computer countdown, the company knowing all about the mutagen and setting the crew up and ridiculously similar weapons including the obligatory flame thrower.

The finale doesn't really help its case either with a brief shark attack that ends just as quickly as its starts, the coastguard flying overhead at the exact moment the survivors surface and the fact the beastie seemingly comes back from its watery grave. Its a bizarre finale really as we see the creature getting crushed and then the entire deep sea base implodes...yet it manages to survive.The movie then still continues as we see Peter Weller getting his own back on the company director or representative by punching her out!! he knocks out a woman! Everything about the finale just feels tacked on and rushed, as though they weren't sure what to do...and it really shows. It is a fun deep sea thriller but its not very scary truth be told and in an era of sci-fi classics this movie fell well short I'm afraid, but its not a total loss.

6/10