Leviathan (1989)

DVD Cover (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
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Overall Rating 58%
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Ranked #3,107
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Perched on the hull of a wrecked Soviet freighter, a team of deep-sea miners led by head oceanographer Steven Beck comes face to face with a mutant creature that's the product of a failed genetic experiment. --IMDb
Review by Chad
Added: November 29, 2011
If the storylines for The Thing and Alien were mixed together and it all took place on the ocean floor instead of in space or Antarctica, the result would be remarkably similar to Leviathan. Call it an homage or call it a rip-off, but the fact remains that the movie is actually entertaining in a cheesy sort of way. It is by no means in the same league as the two aforementioned films, but for a night of mindless entertainment, it works out rather nicely.

The story finds eight deep-sea miners doing their thing with only days to go before they can return from their three-month journey to the bottom of the ocean. Led by Steven Beck (Peter Weller) and Dr. Glen Thompson (Richard Crenna), the team - Sixpack (Daniel Stern), Willie (Amanda Pays), Jones (Ernie Hudson), DeJesus (Michael Carmine), Bowman (Lisa Eilbacher), and Cobb (Hector Elizondo) - are counting down the hours to freedom, when they happen to stumble across a sunken Russian ship. After doing a little digging, they discover a locked safe amongst the wreckage and bring it back to their base, and upon opening it, they discover a few items of interest: notes of deceased crew, a cryptic video message about bizarre illnesses from the ship's captain, and some good old Russian alcohol.

Of course, the alcohol is the real item of interest here due to it usually being prohibited on this mission, but unfortunately for the crew, they should have paid a little more attention to the other items. You see, the Russians were toying with the idea of genetic alteration to create a race of man that could live underwater, and the experiments didn't go so well: hence all of the crew dying and the ship being intentionally sunk. How were these genetic alterations administered to a crew of seafaring men? By way of the alcohol, of course... the same alcohol that these people are now drinking. Before you know it, we have a monster on our hands, and the superiors back home (Meg Foster) refuse to evacuate.

As mentioned, the storyline is heavily influenced by The Thing and Alien, with a lot of the look of the ship's design taken from the latter film. There's really no way around it: this film unashamedly "borrowed" liberally from those two films. Still, if you can get past that, it's an entertaining slice of sci-fi cheesiness with a great cast, great monster effects, and a few moments of genuine tension.

The cast is the real highlight of the film - I mean, you've got a ton of big eighties names doing their thing, and none of them disappoint. You're obviously going to figure out who the stars of the movie are pretty early in the movie, but aside from that, there's really no "padding" in the casting department: nobody is there simply to stack out the body count, and each of the cast members genuinely bring something interesting to the table.

Of course, there is a body count in the movie with a blood-thirsty (literally!) monster running around, and again, I have to give the movie credit in this department as well. There's nothing as memorable as the chest-bursters from Alien to be found here, but there is definitely plenty of the red stuff and the monster itself looks great when we finally get to see it. Again, that is another way that the film borrowed from those other two releases: it relies more on tension and fear of the unknown, and even though it doesn't match up to either of them in the tension department, it still works rather well here.

Aside from the "something borrowed, something else borrowed" approach to the film, the only thing that truly hurts the movie is the ending. I'm not going to ruin it, but the film is a legitimate attempt at a horror film with a lot of unintentional cheesiness. That worked for me and I'm not going to bitch about it. However, that went out the window during the last fifteen minutes, and it seemed to be an attempt to cram as much goofiness into the last bit of running time before wrapping things up. That really left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and I have to wonder if that ending was even shot by the same guy who shot the rest of the movie. It'd be like somebody from The Asylum (bless their hearts) shooting an ending to The Thing - it just wouldn't work and would stick out like a sore thumb.

Still, Leviathan is an entertaining slice of b-movie cheese, and if you're looking for a night of mindless fun in front of the tube, you could do a lot worse. It is by no means perfect and there are a lot of valid complaints that one could make about it, but at the end of the day, I watch movies to be entertained. Leviathan entertained me, and for that, I'm giving it a thumbs up. 6/10.
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