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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Day 194: Leviathan

Great Mastodon album, so-so movie

We know more about outer space than we do about the ocean. Despite the majority world being covered by it, we know very little of the underwater world. That's why every few years we hear about new marine life being discovered as we delve deeper and deeper into the watery unknown. These creatures are not the cute and cuddly type either. Just google “bioluminescent fish” and sleep tight. These things are just reminders that we know so little about our own world and that we can still be killed by monsters. It's no surprise that the ocean is a great location for horror.

Leviathan is a 1989 horror movie starring Peter Weller (Robocop, Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across The 8th Dimension) as geologist Steven Beck. Beck is in command of an undersea mining station owned by Tri-Oceanic Corp. The crew's 90 days on the job is almost up when they come across a sunken Russian ship called “Leviathan.” One of the crew members, Sixpack (Daniel Stern, C.H.U.D., Rookie of the Year) discovers a box containing documents, a videotape, and a flask. Sixpack secretly drinks from the flask and shares it with another crew member named Bowman (Lisa Eilbacher, An Officer And A Gentleman, Beverly Hills Cop). Dr. Thompson (Richard Crenna, First Blood, Hot Shots! Part Deux) and Beck view the video tape which they believe talks about the Russian crew's poor health. When they study the Russian ship, Doc believes that it was a sunk by a torpedo. The next morning, Sixpack wakes up sick with a strange rash. He gets progressively worse and Doc consults his computer which guesses his condition is due to a genetic alteration. Sixpack dies hours later with Bowman also becoming sick. Rather than meeting the same fate, she commits suicide. Doc and Beck find that Sixpack and Bowman's bodies have begun to mutate and are merging together. They get the rest of the crew to aid in dumping of their bodies, but are attacked by the mutated bodies which have no become a horrible monster. They are able to jettison the bodies, but a mutated piece remains. The crew discovers that the Russian crew were being experimented on and the ship was scuttled when the experiment grew out of control. The remaining piece of the monster regenerates, attacking and absorbing the crew. Beck asks Tri-Oceanic Corp's CEO, Martin (Meg Foster, They Live, Masters Of The Universe), for help, but she says a hurricane is blocking their rescue. How will the rest of the crew survive?

"(Sigh) I miss Detroit."

How have I never heard of a movie with a cast that includes Peter Weller, Daniel Stern, Ernie Hudson, Meg Foster, and Richard Crenna? All of these actors have been in popular movies so you'd think Leviathan would be more well known. One reason why this may be the case is because Leviathan came out the same year as The Abyss, a far better and far more popular underwater movie. It's hard not to make comparisons to The Abyss as both are very similar. The mutating and adapting monster that can take the form of it's victims is straight out of The Thing. They even use flamethrowers to attack it, just like in The Thing. The scenes of the crew running through a sterile, industrial environment and a big slug-like creature coming out of someones chest is just like Alien. How could no one notice that these scenes had already been done before and done far better? Maybe they though that the inclusion of Martin and the soulless corporation would create a new story, but that subplot is unnecessary window-dressing. No one cares about the evil CEO because she's not given enough time on screen for us to hate her.

The story itself is pretty basic and not very exciting. It is essentially a monster movie that doesn't get to the monster until about halfway through and then doesn't have the decency to completely show it until the end. It's a shame they do this because the monster actually looks very good. Of course, it still looks like an earlier design from The Thing, but that's more of a compliment than a diss. When I watch a monster movie, I want to see the monster. A movie like Alien is scary because it creates a terrifying atmosphere and fear of the unknown. Leviathan is too well lit and lacks subtlety to be scary. There is no mystery of who could be the monster, like in The Thing. Without these things, we just have to rely on the actor's performances and action. The acting is good thanks to the impressive cast playing all their parts perfectly. The action is decent, but not enough to carry the movie. When your monster movie lacks action and excitement, what is the point?

Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck

Leviathan is your average monster movie that contains ideas and scenes from far better horror movies. Sadly, it has nothing to do with Thomas Hobbes political book, Leviathan. The acting is good, but that shouldn't be a surprise considering the caliber of actors involved. The monster looks very good, but we do not see it enough. The subplot involving the evil CEO from the evil corporation attempts to make the movie unique, but not enough time is given to develop anything important. The action is decent, but only comes towards the end of the movie. Leviathan isn't a bad monster movie, it is just too similar to movies that are much better and scarier.


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