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Monday, August 18, 2014

REVIEW: Leviathan (Scream Factory Blu-ray) - Ernie Hudson Said What?

When I was a kid I was confused. Not in general but specifically regaring three different releases featuring under water Sci-Fi/Horror adventures. There was DeepStar Six, the Abyss and the subject of today's review, Leviathan. I've seen each of these movies, and while DeepStar Six is still my favorite due to the gore factor, I used to have a love affair with Leviathan as well. Sure Abyss is a great flick, but it never really stuck with me like the two monster features with blood and guts a la carte; perhaps it was simply too pretty and less gratuitous. Up until a few days ago I had all but forgotten specifics regarding Leviathan save for the WPIX trailer from when it first aired on network TV and the trailer. It wasn't due to dislike, I just didn't own the movie. With Scream Factory's release I had the chance to relive memories of watching it on repeat, taped off TV and missing some of the good bits only this time I could watch it complete, full of monster effects and blood.

Synopsis from Scream Factory:

On the dark and forbidding ocean floor, the crew of a deep-sea mission rig discovers a sunken freighter that harbors a deadly secret: a genetic experiment gone horribly wrong. With a storm raging on the surface and no hope of rescue, the captain and his team are propelled into a spine-tingling battle for survival against the ultimate foe – a hideous monster that cannot die...and lives to kill!

The reason to watch Leviathan isn't for the monster effects because any one who has seen it will tell you that they aren't all that impressive. Sure they hark back to Rob Bottin's work on The Thing and try to play at a unique underwater creature, but with such a limited budget to play around with you'll rarely get a monster that can scare or even hold up its end of the bargain. The suits are ramshackle, but the underwater effects that don't really occur underwater are actually something to see. I like the ship design though I kept feeling like I was watching a space feature and not an underwater feature. What will surprise you is that this is Stan Winston's team. He's a genuine master of effects. If you have any questions regarding the effects or story behind their less then perfect appearance check out the Interview with Alex Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr.  The real reason you watch is for the exquisite cast of B listers.

Peter Weller plays the lead (or maybe it's a duel lead with Ernie Hudson). He's just past his first peak with a host of 80's successes, but he delivers a strong, power command role as our trusty hero. Combine that with Daniel Stern. Yes, the Daniel Stern from Home Alone, City Slickers and CHUD. He's the perfect blue collar scum bag with hints of humor overshadowed by utter comedic stupidity. Then of course there's Ernie Hudson, the Ghostbuster! He's great along side Peter Weller and I agree with most of what he asserts in this interview regarding the end of the picture (no spoilers here of course). Also, Amanda Pays used to be a star crush of mine... still is come to think of it. The group comprises the underwater excavation team who operates almost like a family at times with innuendo and playful hijinx in the forefront of the first 30 minutes of the movie. Meg Foster plays the head of the company sponsoring the underwater mining operations with the perfect balance of corporate evil and mechanical creep.

This being the first time I've enjoyed Leviathan since I was a kid, and that was on network TV I am astonished at the transfer and quality of the picture. It really does have a great look and the underwater sequences are pretty damn cool. The highlight of the extras is the interview with Ernie Hudson. He puts the whole production in perspective and comments with little censor on the ending of the picture. He's the kind of stand up, candid person you want to see on a special feature. Aside from that the creature effects interviews help to explain some of the less extravagant moments in the picture. There is also interview from Hector Elizondo and a trailer.

You watch Leviathan to remember which of the three under water movies it is because you killed those brain cells in college. You watch Leviathan because it came from 1989 just on the cusp of an age that produced some high budget flops and didn't exactly give a whole lotta love to the horror genre. You watch this edition of Leviathan from Scream Factory because it looks amazing especially after you confuse it for The Abyss fro the 100th time and can't remember which one had more gore, DeepStar Six or Leviathan. Leviathan is a cross between Alien and The Thing underwater and with way less atmosphere, but what it makes up for in perfection it capitalizes on in pure fun. Enjoy the monster and the performances. Enjoy a monster movie.

Now we can only hope that DeepStar Six gets the same treatment though I believe it is locked up in the cold dead hands of Lions Gate.



YOU CAN ORDER LEVIATHAN NOW!

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