Peter Weller is one of those actors that I’m so intrigued by that I’ll pretty much watch him read the phone book. He straddles the line between leading man and quirky supporting character. Weller, most famously known for portraying Robocop and Buckaroo Banzai, plays the leader of a deep sea mining crew who encounter a soviet submarine wreck on the ocean floor. The crew discover some bizarre cargo, bring it aboard their deep sea base and then… well, you can probably guess what happens from there. Things go poorly for the deep sea miners. Body horror, monsters, and claustrophobia abound.
Leviathan was released in 1989. It’s a fun mix of high concept, practical effects, and B-movie actors. As I’m sure you can tell by the log line, Leviathan is a shameless Alien rip off. You can practically hear two producers sitting in a room saying, “y’know what was awesome? Alien. We should totally make a movie like Alien…but underwater.”
In addition to Peter Weller, Ernie Hudson, from Ghostbusters fame, and Richard Crenna, from Rambo notoriety, and the woman who played Evi-Lynn in the Masters of the Universe all deliver fun performances.
Unfortunately, the finished product isn’t necessarily the best crafted or most intriguing film. It has a lot of flaws. The second act drags a bit. But the creature design is pretty successful and there’s just nothing better than practical effects from this time period. Everything feels visceral and extremely potent.
Leviathan is one of those films that seemed primed for a low budget franchise. If Ghoulies and Critters can launch franchises, what stopped Leviathan from getting a few sequels. The film is fun, has a lot of energy, and successfully establishes a tone that most B-movies would kill to have.
Leviathan may have started off as just an ‘Alien but in the sea’ high concept rip off, but the finished film is one of those highly watchable not quite Cult Classics that every horror movie hound needs to watch.