Ah, Leviathan, the poor man’s The Abyss. Or is it The Thing or The Alien underwater? Whatever the case may be, the fact that a film like this, that owes its existence to an entire list of other monster movies, is still thought about enough to be given the Blu-ray treatment by a company like Scream Factory is a testament to its charm. A low budget contrivance of elements of similar films that “worked”, but still has enough going for it to remain memorable. Is it the cast? That’s one thing that Leviathan has going for it. It may be a low-budget knockoff of Aliens, The Thing, and other monster movies, but they assembled a cast of genre rockstars to play these derivative characters, and play them well. Ernie Hudson, Hector Elizondo, Peter Weller, Daniel Stern, and even Meg Foster and her entrancing blue eyes makeup the cast. Foster isn’t submerged with the rest of the players, but she still maintains an important role as the cold-hearted corporate pencil-pusher, that has ultimately written the crew off, and left them stranded at the bottom of the ocean, so that the company can cut its losses. Couple in some really inventive practical monster effects, and you have yourself an entertaining monster movie, even if it does borrow heavily from some of the genre’s similar heavy-hitters.
“Alien underwater!” – The Los Angeles Times
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!
Starring Peter Weller (Robocop), Amanda Pays (Max Headroom), Richard Crenna (First Blood), Daniel Stern (Home Alone) and Ernie Hudson(Ghostbusters) and directed by George P. Cosmatos (Tombstone, Of Unknown Origin), Leviathan features a solid script by veteran screenwriters David Peoples (Blade Runner) and Jeb Stuart (Die Hard, The Fugitive) and amazing creature effects by the one and only Stan Winston (Aliens, Predator, Terminator 2, Jurassic Park).
Much like the creature being ripped off from JC’s The Thing, there are other, entire sequences within Leviathan that are ripped off from other films, such as Ridley Scott’s Alien/Aliens. There is a full-on chest-burster sequence, where Hector Elizondo has somehow been incubated by one of the space-alien-vampires, and it bursts through his chest. You’ve seen it before, but it doesn’t make it any less effective as a sequence. The truth is, throughout much of Leviathan, if for some reason you’ve never seen it before, will remind you of some other film you’ve seen, and that’s because it is a studio knock-off of that film you’ve seen, and that’s okay. The world of cinema has room for knock-offs, so long as they are professionally produced and acted, and Leviathan is that, if it is anything at all. You’ve seen these movies before, so you know the first two thirds of the film will be slow going, setup for the third act, which will consist of the final showdown, and the survival of key characters. And that’s exactly what happens. I have always been a fan of Leviathan, though it has been nearly fifteen years since the last time I watched it. It still holds up, in my opinion.
Scream Factory have put together an impressive Blu-ray release of Leviathan, and I’m glad that they did. It will give the new generation of genre fans a chance to check out a competently made, low budget monster movie, that they probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise. If you take a glance at the back cover of the Blu-ray, it may seem like there are far less extras than there really is. I don’t know if it’s to save space on the cover, or what, but this is a common occurrence with some of these releases. Yes, technically what they list is what you get, but rather than just being crude cast and crew interviews, the interviews come in the form of three separate retrospective documentaries. The first of which is the best, and it is called Leviathan: Monster Melting Pot. This is a special effects retrospective, with interviews with the people responsible for giving us the monster in the film. There are two other retrospectives on the disc, one that features a new interview with Hector Elizondo, and one with Ernie Hudson. Granted, it doesn’t compare to the extras on Scream Factory’s recently released Collector’s Edition Phantom of the Paradise Blu-ray, but what we get is far more extensive than if this disc had been released by the studio that licensed the rights out to Scream Factory.
This isn’t my first time viewing Leviathan in HD. The film was licensed out for digital On Demand services as well, so I do have an image to compare the transfer on Scream’s Blu-ray. I don’t know if this transfer was taken from the same master, but either way, it looks much better than it did when I watched it on VOD. The colors are more vibrant, and the details are fare more precise. You also have to remember that this was a film that was shot in the latter portion of the Eighties, and some of those films suffered due to several different factors, including lighting, as well as the particular film stock that was popular/cost efficient at the time. All I know is, Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of Leviathan was the best looking/sounding experience I’ve had with the film. For a non-Collector’s Edition release, I was really quite impressed.
Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of Leviathan will be available on Tuesday, August 19th, and is highly recommended, even for those that have never actually seen the film. You can pre-order your copy by visiting their website, right here.
|Discs: 1||Format: NTSC|
|Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1|
Leviathan Blu-ray (Scream Factory)15.89
- - Exceptional picture quality
- - Exceptional audio quality
- - Loaded with behind-the-scenes extras
- - Not a "Collector's Edition"
- - No new cover art