New On Blu: LEVIATHAN (1989)

Leviathan released on Scream Factory Blu-ray on August 19.

When I popped the Leviathan Blu-ray in, I honestly couldn’t say for sure if I had seen it before or not. I frequently confuse it with Deepstar Six, another underwater-set science fiction film. These two films famously jockeyed for customer dollars in 1989, along with James Cameron’s The Abyss, which ultimately proved to be the undisputed winner of that particular battle.

The film is directed by George P. Cosmatos, who is mainly known for his great 80’s action résumé with Rambo: First Blood Part II and Cobra, and later 1993’s Tombstone.

Turns out I had seen this before. After putting the disc in I gradually recognized it. The plot concerns a team of miners operating from an underwater station. Nearly finished with their tour, they are anxious to finish the job and go topside. While working on the ocean floor in pressurized suits, they stumble on the unexpected wreckage of a Russian vessel and salvage its safe, realizing too late that something mysterious killed the Russian crew, and they’ve just brought it on board.

The underwater scenes are particularly fascinating; after watching the film I learned that they were faked using special effects to simulate aquatic particulate, and shot in high speed to create slow, weighty movements. It works extremely well; I had no idea while watching the film that I was being viewing an elaborate optical illusion.

Probably the first thing you’ll notice about Leviathan is that it has a heck of a cast. Peter Weller, fresh off of the success of Robocop, is surrounded by a stellar group of very recognizable character actors including Ernie Hudson, Daniel Stern, Hector Elizondo, and Richard Crenna. Rounding out the mining crew are female cast members Amanda Pays and Lisa Eilbacher, and one Michael Carmine, whose life was tragically cut short just months after the film’s release, at the age of 30.

Not to pigeonhole the film, but Leviathan really channels a couple a better-known sci-fi horror movies. It’s set in an underwater mining operation with set design and shadowy corporate political overhead reminiscent of the Alien franchise, and the creature is sort of a fishier version of The Thing: a host which takes over living hosts and adapts its genetic structure to absorbs whatever life forms it encounters.

A pretty great “gearing up” sequence has the surviving team members firing up their mining power tools — flamethrowers, saws, and bombs — to use as weapons, but with a weak payoff as they don’t get a whole lot of actual combat. This is perhaps a good metaphor for the film as a whole. Overall, it’s an enjoyable but also fairly disposable piece of action-horror, mainly notable for its great cast, interesting setting, and practical effects from Stan Winston’s team.


Scream Factory brings Leviathan to Blu-ray in a pretty nice package, if not as “deluxe” as their upper tier releases. No slipcover on this release, but we do get a pretty sweet reversible cover with dual artwork.

Special Features

Surprisingly robust extras here. The disc includes three featurettes, all new to this Scream Factory release.

Leviathan: Monster Melting Pot (40:26)
 Members of Stan Winston’s effects team reminisce on the making of the film, which sounds like it was rather difficult and contentious. Features interviews with Tom Woodruff Jr., Shannon Shea, and Alec Gillis.

Dissecting Cobb With Hector Elizondo (12:35)
 Elizondo talks about his experiences on the film, including that time he almost died.

Surviving Leviathan With Ernie Hudson (15:01)
 Ernie reminisces and give us his thoughts on the creature and why his character’s arc should have ended differently. I agree!

Theatrical Trailer (1:51)

More From Scream Factory
 Trailers for Scream Factory titles Without Warning (1:42), Lake Placid (1:58), Saturn 3 (2:55), and Swamp Thing (1:31). Note these are vintage trailers, so even in HD they’re a little rough.

A/V Out.

Get it at Amazon:
 Leviathan — [Blu-Ray] | [Instant]

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