Respectful Reel Review #14

MOVIE TITLE:

Leviathan

IMDB YEAR RELEASED:

1989

STARRING:

Peter Weller, Richard Crenna, Amanda Pays, Daniel Stern, Ernie Hudson, Michael Carmine, Lisa Eilbacher, Hector Elizondo, Meg Foster

DIRECTED BY:

George P. Cosmatos

SUMMARY:

When the members of an American underwater mining facility discover a scuttled Russian submarine, they unwittingly unearth a secret that leads them to being stalked, and preyed upon by a mutant creature that is attempting to self-perpetuate and assimilate the crew.

PLOT:

During a routine work cycle, Willie and Six-pack are walking underwater in their deep sea pressure suits. Six-pack wanders off and finds a shipwrecked Soviet submarine called Leviathan. When they find a safe ensconced in the innards of the sub, they decide to salvage the safe with the hopes of finding treasure.

What they find in the safe is a record detailing the deaths of the Leviathan crew. Among the effects is a video log made by the captain and a flask filled with vodka, secreted by Six-pack which he shares with Bowman. Doc and Beck review the captain’s log and learn that the crew perished with odd medical issues. Also, the captain deliberately sunk his vessel due to the medical problems.

The next day, Six-pack awakes feeling ill. When Doc examines him, he sees that there are oozing sores on his back. He subsequently dies. When Doc tells Beck, they decide to keep it a secret since the crew only has to stay at the mining facility for one more day. Surreptitiously, Doc examines all of the crew, but overlooks Bowman who has come down with the same disease that killed Six-pack.

While Beck and Doc consult with the company representative, Morgan, Bowman goes to Medical to see Doc, but there, she discovers that Six-pack is deceased and diseased. Since Doc is unavailable, Bowman takes a shower and is alarmed that she is losing her hair. It occurs to her that she may have the same thing that killed Six-pack. Consequently, she kills herself.

Beck and Doc have been talking to Morgan and have requested an emergency evacuation, but she insists that the surface is undergoing a hurricane that would make pick-up an impossibility. She says that in 12 hours, the situation should have changed enough to make a pick-up. For now, they need to wait.

Doc finds Bowman’s body and ascertains that she killed herself. He has the body taken to sickbay where the bodies of Bowman and Six-pack merge and mutate. When the crew becomes cognizant of the dead mutating bodies, they decide to flush the cadavers. In carrying the bodies to the site of expulsion, the crew feel movement in the body bag. Recognizing that one or both may still be alive, they open the bag and unleash the reason why the Leviathan had to be scuttled.

REVIEW:

Obviously, there’s more, but I expect you to watch it, so I won’t spoil it for you. This is a Respectful Reel Review so you should understand that I intend to recommend it. You should know that despite the fact that it was number two at the box office on its opening weekend, this movie was not received well.

I get the sense that Deep Star Six and the Abyss had a deleterious effect on the reception of this movie. People may have believed that seeing one underwater movie, you’ve seen them all. “The film was released around the same time as other, similarly themed ‘underwater’ science fiction and horror films including The Abyss and Deep Star Six, and received negative reviews from critics, citing numerous similarities to films such as Alien and The Thing.”

I don’t agree with this at all. The Abyss involves aliens of the deep and Deep Star Six, though similar in setting is produced and directed by Friday the 13th’s Sean S. Cunningham, which should immediately indicate that the quality of that movie pales in comparison. The creature effects are done by the Houdini of monster effects Academy Award winner Stan Winston.

Clearly, the visuals are top-notch. The cinematography is stellar, with artistic directing and unique set design. The underwater facility looks like what I imagine an underwater mining facility would look like. The underwater sequences are as beautiful as one would expect, and everything is enhanced by the creature design and the camera angles chosen by the director, George P. Cosmatos.

This movie is categorized as a science fiction horror film. I agree with that categorization. I constantly rail at the poor classification of movies and especially when there are multiple categories that the movie can fit into. This one gets it correct.

Another thing that we emphasize here at the Mustache and the Beard is music, and in a horror movie this is doubly important. Veteran of the screen and master composer Jerry Goldsmith prepared the score. One of the powerful ways that the score was enhanced by this master was by weaving aquatic sounds with the music. Beautifully done.

Lastly, the acting is really good. I think Peter Weller was never better. (That’s right I said it! Better than Robocop where he just had to play a cardboard cutout.) Also, Amanda Pays is stunning. You think Bette Davis has haunting eyes? Meg Foster has eyes that scare. Daniel Stern, Lisa Eilbacher, Michael Carmine, Ernie Hudson, and Hector Elizondo are all great. Richard Crenna is probably the weakest part of the cast. He appears so disinterested that while everyone is running, he walks. I don’t love him as an actor. Sorry.

The movie is derivative of many in the genre. I accept that as an on-point criticism. However, this is a fun, Creature Feature, turn your brain off, science fiction, horror movie that delivers some scares and some laughs. Grab yourself some popcorn, turn the lights off, and watch.

I give this movie 3 and a half Grey Geeks out of our 5 point scale. It is a must-see fun watch.

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