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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Leviathan (1989)




If watching eighties creature features has taught me anything it is that you shouldn’t ever mine under the ocean. It never ends well and there is always a body count. With Leviathan we have a mining team nearing the end of their three-month shift under the ocean. Oh, short timers… the dreaded double whammy of horror movies. While trying to meet quotas one of them disappears over the edge of a pit and when they go looking for him, they find the wreck of a Russian ship named the Leviathan.

Six Pack, the diver that fell, shows up with a safe proclaiming himself to be rich. Well you know what happens. They bring the safe back to the base and crack it open. This unleashes a virus that changes DNA and mutates the human body into something monstrous. The remainder of the movie is the crew attempting to escape while the company tries to keep them below. Why? Not so much to save the human race as it is the bad publicity involved in accidentally destroying the world.

I like this movie a lot and always have. The cast is filled with familiar faces like Peter Weller, Daniel Stern, Hector Elizondo, Amanda Pays, Ernie Hudson, and Richard Crenna. If you ever watched movies in the eighties these are people you have seen before. They are all great in their roles and are a heck of a lot of fun, but I was especially pleased with Ernie Hudson and his character. He gets all the best lines and steals every scene he is in. This is one of those monster movies that has a wisecracking comic relief character. I also enjoyed Daniel Stern who is at his scuzzy best and would give the company’s HR department fits with his antics and comments.

The script, while familiar, is executed in an entertaining manner keeping the action flowing. We get situations that were clearly inspired by and in some cases lifted right from other movies. There are the characters sneaking around the tight corridors with improvised weapons including a flame thrower and another that almost has a creature burst from his chest (I think even they drew the line there…) that should remind everyone of a well-known movie set in space. The creature absorbs its victims and their knowledge rather than just kill them. We know this because we see the faces of those killed in the twisted form of the monster as it changes into different configurations. Now that reminds me of a certain other movie set in an arctic climate. Hell there is even a little bit of Die Hard in the very end!

While not as good as the movies it is “referencing” Leviathan does manage to pull off the special effects work really well. The various forms of the monster all look great and are disturbing. We get giant monsters as well as smaller wormlike ones that burrow into the victims. Hell, it even starts off as a rash before it gets rolling so there is some variety here. I think that the most disturbing part of all is that the monster is people. Infected and mutated but still just made up of people. The effects help support that with some vaguely terrifying shapes that are sort of human looking in many of the creature designs.

Good cast, funny dialogue, and well executed special effects work makes Leviathan a fun if not terribly original monster movie. I go back every few years and watch it and I’m never disappointed. I recommend you check it out.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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