Reed Alexander's Horror Review of 'Leviathan' (1989)
Greatest Bandwagon Movie in the History of Horror!
Decided to re-watch Leviathan. I don't know, I always have a soft spot in my heart for the monster movies from my childhood. Or maybe that's cancer... whatever.
You have to remember when you're watching the 80s classics, even one that was on the cusp like Leviathan, they didn't have a lot to work with. CGI was brand new, seldom used, and total garbage. 80s horrors like this were all about the set and the practical FX. That's what made movies like The Thing and Pumpkinhead so brilliant. All you got are camera filters, a smoke machine, and a rubber monster. But, what they did with it was amazing.
What you'll be shocked to find out about this gem, is that it actually has some pretty stellar actors, who were close to making the A list. You've got my favorite Ghost Buster, Ernie Hudson. You've got Robocop's Peter Weller, Hector Elizondo, Daniel Stern, and Richard Crenna. That's a pretty amazing cast for a shit 80s rubber monster movie. And, they didn't stop at just the cast. The writer gave them dialog that actually worked and felt natural. It was frankly, brilliant!
Again, the set and practical FX, coupled with the cinematography, was just fantastic. You can tell the underwater scenes are really just shot in a dark room through a blue filter. But it works. They didn't have the kind of budget The Abyss had to rent a reactor stack and fill it with water. The set was phenomenal. It could easily be compared to 1979's classic Alien. The only thing that made it cheesy was the rubber monster and the some of the larger plot holes.
Any-who, it's a late 80s movie so the tech is pretty cheap and their big rubber monster kinda silly. But, in those days it was THE SHIT! You know what? It's also a lot better than some of the shit CGI monsters the industry has been spitting out lately. Those are so cheesy it makes your head hurt.
Don't come into this expecting Ridley Scott material. What am I saying? After Prometheus, we can't even expect Ridley Scott material out of Ridley Scott. Just watch it for what it is; a pre-90s B horror. If you like that sort of thing you will enjoy this. After all these years I can give it a pass as one of the best creature features of its day and age. It's pretty fun and that's all that really matters.
This movie was desperately trying to be The Abyss, Alien, and The Thing, all wrapped into one. That's okay, I guess. After Alien, there was a huge bandwagon through the 80s to ride its coat tails. The Abyss was just about to be released and if you're going to rip off both those ideas, why not go for broke and some how shoe horn The Thing in there. This, unfortunately, lead to some plot holes based entirely on the setup. If you remember from The Thing, you have to destroy it on a cellular level with fire. Kinda hard to kill a monster with similar abilities while under the fucking ocean. The crew keeps doing things like flushing it out into the water. What exactly is that supposed to do? It's a fucking mutant fish person!
This blows open the biggest plot hole in the movie. They discover a mutagen that turns people into fish mutants that was hidden in the vodka supply of a Russian ship called, The Leviathan. They find out The Leviathan was sunk by the Russian military to kill the mutant fish people ravaging the ship. Sooooo, their plan was to sink the mutant fish people into the ocean? How come the ocean isn't already fucking full of these things then. They're fish people that regenerate like fucking starfish. You're not sinking them, you're sending them home.
But it gets dumber! They find the body of a dead one and they're like, "It must have starved to death." Why?! Did it forget how to fucking swim or something? The best part is the ending, when they blow the mutant fish monster to pieces. Is that supposed to be a happy ending? This thing made more of itself when a limb turned into another one. There are now half a dozen pieces of it just floating around. That means anywhere from four to six new mutant fish people. Love the ending line though "Say Ahh!" as he throws a mining charge in the creature's mouth.
My biggest grudge though? They killed off Ernie Hudson. How you gonna kill my favorite Ghost Buster! At least it wasn't 'Black Guy Dies First.' That's saying a lot for the 1980s. They actually killed off two developed white characters, before killing off the first minority.In the end, this movie is still fun and, I recommend it to horror heads as required viewing.