Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Leviathan (1989, USA)

Here's a blast from the recent past, a film that filled sleaze-ball theatres for a few weeks way back in the late 80s and then quickly entered the nether regions of forgotten B-film hell. The few video junkies that ever refer to this movie generally dismiss it as a bad Alien (1979) rip-off, but it is actually much more a half-way decent rip-off of John Carpenter's The Thing (1982), with the action transplanted from the Antarctica to some underwater mining station. One of many underwater action and horror films that flooded the cinemas at the time—the big budget example being The Abyss (1989), the cheapest being Deep Star Six (1989)—Leviathan is probably the most entertaining of the bunch, as it not only lacks both the inordinate running time and pretentiousness of James Cameron's turkey but also had enough of a budget to look a lot better than Deep Star Six. Of course, the movie's mildly gross out special effects were much more impressive thirteen years ago than they are today, but they still do their duty. The overall production design of the station itself, on the other hand, is still as impressive today as when the film first came out. (This cannot be said of much of the movie's unfunny sexist "humor," which in our repressively politically correct times would be classified simply as on-the-job sexual harassment and excised from any given current script.) All in all, alongside Tombstone (1993), Leviathan is among the best movies director George P. Cosmotos ever made—but then, keep in mind that Cosmotos' best known films include the laughable The Cassandra Crossing (1976), the unremittingly boring Of Unknown Origin (1983), the propagandistic Rambo II: First Blood (1985) and un-watchable Cobra (1986).
Amongst its many similarities to The Thing, Leviathan is heavy on familiar faces, the names of which are often hard to remember. This includes such stalwarts as Peter Weller, Richard Crenna, Ernie Hudson, Meg Foster, Hector Elizondo and a pre-Home Alone Daniel Stern. Most of the actors fit their one-note characters perfectly, but Meg Foster—just starting her decline into B and Z films after her disastrous turn as Evil-Lyn in Masters of the Universe (1987)—deserves special mention for managing to do a worse acting job than the eternally wooden Peter Weller. One mostly forgotten name that brought a lot of guys into the theatres back in 1989 is Amanda Pays, an attractive, top-heavy babe with a fab accent who was a heartthrob and dick hardener for a brief time before falling off the face of the earth. At the time of its initial release, the biggest disappointment of the film for the more-hormonally raging viewers was that she kept both her bra and panties on for both her shower scenes, thus permitting no one to find out whether or not she was a natural brunette.
Leviathan takes place deep under the ocean at an underwater mining complex where the team is hard at work trying to meet their contract. With but a few days left before they are due to surface, the crew asshole (Daniel Stern) stumbles upon a scuttled Russian sub named Leviathan which, mysteriously enough, is listed on the international registry as still being on active duty somewhere in the Baltic Sea. A flask of vodka is found within the safe taken from the sub, and in no time both the asshole and the team's secondary set of tits (Lisa Eilbacher) have turned into a predatory fish-monster out for blood. A hurricane far above keeps the surviving crew members trapped below as one by one they become fish food. Just like the monster in The Thing, the fish-creature can regenerate itself from and contaminate others with but a single microscopic fleck of DNA and is thus virtually indestructible. And again, just like in The Thing, a well-meaning character destroys all means of escape for the good of humanity. Unlike in John Carpenter's modern classic, however, the creature in Leviathan will starve to death without plasma, so the survivors keep running around trying to blast the creature out into the deep sea where warm blooded mammals are rare. By the end of the movie, everyone dies whom you expect to die, and the viewer is left hoping that for the sake of humanity no dolphins or whales (both being mammals) should happen to swim by…
In truth, there is little new or exceptionally creative in this film, and any given B-film fan will recognize acts of plagiarism in everything from the music to the monster to characterization and plot turns, but for all its derivativeness, Leviathan is nonetheless a far more honest film than The Abyss and, likewise, a much more quick, painless and enjoyable ride. Go ahead, pop that brew, turn off your brain cells (if any are even on) and have fun.


Anonymous said...

You're a douche.

Abraham said...

Dear Anonymous — I find being called a douche sort of like being called a dick: How can I feel insulted about being called something that goes into something nice and tight and warm and wet and that I really like? If you want to insult me, call me something really disgusting like religious, or redneck, or Republican — or combine all three in one go and simply call me Rick Perry. Then you might hurt my feelings.
I must say, though, you and the others of the Brethren of Anonymous are a breed I find hard to respect. I write many things—some specifically with the intention to ruffle feathers, most to present an opinion that I at least try to explain, and very few that I in any way expect many people to agree with—but unlike you and your ilk, the Brethren of Anonymous, I put my name to what I write. You, on the other hand, attempt less to present and debate an opinion than to simply proffer an uncreative wanna-be insult and then hide. (I see you now hiding behind yo' mama's skirt sucking your thumb.) That you hide like you do infers that you obviously must have a teeny weenie, or perhaps no balls at all; that you cannot argue a stance indicates you are probably sub-intelligent; that you are unable to even write more than the simplest grammatical form of "subject verb object" indicates you might also be illiterate. It is hard to take a wanna-be insult from an illiterate idiot without testicles very seriously.
In any event, thanks for your commentary–it's made it to the first page of the blog! I only wish I had a real name to put behind it. And couldn't you have at least taken the time to check "eats donkey doo"?

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