Director – George P. Cosmatos
Cast – Peter Weller, Richard Crenna, Amanda Pays, Daniel Stern, Ernie Hudson, Michael Carmine, Lisa Eilbacher, Hector Elizondo, Meg Foster
Release Year – 1989
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Leviathan blends a few of my favorite elements together into one adventurous horror film. We are a given a nowhere-to-run scenario involving some sweet looking aliens, and the perfect atmosphere the film provides makes for a fun and cheezy watch.
We follow a group of deep sea miners who have been living onboard a giant underwater vessel. The miners, lead by Steven Beck(Peter “Robocop” Weller; Robocop, Robocop 2, Of Unknown Origin, Prey) are nearing the completion date of their contract, and upon one of their mining digs they discover a sunken Russian vessel containing a deadly surprise. The miners manage to bring some of the items from the Russian vessel onto their own ship, which proves to be a costly mistake. The Russian scientists were experimenting with a gene altering organism, and that organism has now made its way to the American miners. With nowhere to run, and few places to hide, the miners are slowly subjected to horrible deaths as they race to find a way out.
Fans of cheezy 80s creature features should find this as enjoyable as I did. I really love films that involve science and technology, and while this film focuses on miners mining silver it requires a fair amount of technology involved given they must reside in a highly advanced underwater vessel to complete their mission. The nowhere-to-run scenario should be obvious in this one, and it makes things even cooler with the fact that everything takes place underwater, which you could compare to space. We humans are unable to survive underwater without specialized equipment, and that turns this film into the Alien of the underwater realm.
The story is simple, and thanks to some cliché yet well executed elements it managed to keep my attention throughout the film. Aside from the tension we face due to the alien life form wreaking havoc on the ship, we get a formidable pseudo sub-plot involving the company that hired the miners and a conspiracy brewing above the water’s surface, leaving the miners helpless in doing anything about it. The character conflict due to the tension and fear onboard the underwater vessel is positive, and we even get a fair sense of biology thrown into the film regarding the leviathan organism.
Director George P. Cosmatos(Of Unknown Origin, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Cobra, Tombstone) did a fine job with this film, and managed to bring many nice visuals on screen to the viewer. Each of the sets was well crafted, and managed to provide a dark and creepy feel to the film, complimenting the usage of the creature. Speaking of the creature, Cosmatos did a fine job giving us some sweet live-action carnage at the hands of the creature, a creature that looked awesome and brought about some good gore as well. The look and feel of the film can come off a bit cheezy(non-campy type) at times, but given this is a late 80s film with a few Hollywood names, what would you expect?
Overall, this is a fun and enjoyable creature feature that comes off as Alien underwater. Fans of such films should find this a pretty positive watch, just be prepared for some cheeze.