Monday, 26 November 2012


1989, US/Italy, Directed by George P. Cosmatos
Colour, Running Time: 94 minutes
Review Source: VHS, PAL, CBS/Fox; Video: 1.33:1, Audio: Stereo

A deep sea mining expedition is thrown slightly off schedule on the discovery of a sunken Russian ship that is reportedly still floating around the ocean as part of a larger fleet - it looks to the crew like it was torpedoed. A remote investigation results in the crew bringing back a stash of items, including a frantic Russian captain's final log (luckily the rig's doctor speaks fluent Russian...) and some alcohol. After sneakily taking a few sips of the quickly confiscated drink a couple of the crew fall ill with skin rashes and nausea, soon after one of them dying in a rather gruesome fashion. Then his corpse begins to mutate before the team leader decides to get the body off board before any infection spreads - but whilst they do manage this, they don't initially realise that a prehensile organism remains on the rig, and it's continuing to mutate at an alarming pace.
Clearly Leviathan was inspired by the likes of Alien and Aliens, throwing in elements of The Thing and Forbidden World just in case anything was missed. In this respect it's not remotely original - the plot is structured in order to lead to anything that was good about those other films, the characters are cut and paste jobs from any Hollywood action film of the period (with nicknames like 'SixPack' and hip - for the 80s - dialogue such as 'go suck on a squid', or something like that), and it features a disgustingly forced 'surprise' climax where you thought it was all over but, hey, it's really not! Aside from all that it's fairly easy to watch, with some lovely effects work from one of the 80s masters of prosthetics, Stan Winston - very gooey and disgusting despite the final monster not quite coming off so well. There are a number of name actors on board - post-Robocop Peter Weller doing a very good job as the skipper, Amanda Pays there to look good (though strangely her character takes showers with her bra and panties on... well at least it saves on washing!), the freaky looking Meg Foster as the bitch who actually gets her comeuppance, Daniel Stern as the prerequisite overly sexed stereotype male - but this is really a B movie at heart, and should only be viewed as such. Jerry Goldsmith is also there to give some credibility to the whole show, although his score is strangely generic. Coincidentally he also scored Alien but the material here invokes no emotion whatsoever - for a man who composed such stunning scores as those for The Omen and Total Recall this is a shame. Still, for monster movie fans this is a sci-fi horror (whose director was best known for Rambo: First Blood Part 2) that will pass some time relatively painlessly, if you don't pay too much attention to its shortcomings.

Re-watching this old video cassette makes one appreciate DVD and Blu-ray again!  The picture is horrifically cropped (from a J-D-C Scope ratio) to 1.33:1, sometimes requiring visible scanning to get essential visual information into view. Colours are washed out and detail vague. What colours are there tend to bleed, especially during the end credits. Audio is servicable. There have been a couple of DVDs released of the film over the years in the US and Europe, however it's surprising to note that there has never been a UK release (to my knowledge). I suspect this film would fare a little better presented properly, though it will never be considered essential.

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