And you know… it still has.
I’m not entirely sure why I like it so much. It could be because of the awesome cast – from always reliable leading man Paul Weller to character acting legend Richard Crenna and excellent supporting actors like Daniel Stern and Ernie Hudson. Oh, and don’t forget Hector Elizondo (who I saw in the fantastic The Taking of Pelham 123 recently) and of course the lizard-eyed Meg Foster. Everyone is good and the dialogue is realistic and all of the characters, with the exception of Lisa Eilbacher, is written with depth and intelligence. I’m pretty sure screenwriters David Webb Peoples (who also wrote Blade Runner and Twelve Monkeys) and Jeb Stuart got the orders from the producers to try to copy the realistic style of Ridley Scott’s Alien, with the same fast and witty dialogue.
Alien isn’t the only inspiration – the atmosphere and characters is directly from that film, but much of the storyline and twists is taken almost directly from John Carpenter’s The Thing. With some slight changes of course. Personally I love this, because I could watch Alien and The Thing rip-off’s all day long, especially if they’re so ambitious and drenched with money as Leviathan. It never reaches the excellent paranoia of The Thing – and it’s not the focuseither, this is more the anxiety over the infection, people looking for signs of illness etc. It works, but in all honesty it could have ripped The Thing even more here.
Leviathan is foremost a monster film and the special effects, the action, is extremely well executed. It goes from the usual slime and gore to a fifties sci-fi film complete with a silly (but cool) looking fish monster, just bucket or two of slime from being black & white and starring opposite Richard Carlson! It looks quite cool, but I guess there’s a reason why it’s kept quite hidden most of the time with just a few wide shots which lasts less than a second. It’s a pity, because the man behind the monster effects is Stan Winston and he and his crew has done a fantastic job.
Leviathan is produced by the nephew of Dino De Laurentiis and like his uncle he knows who to spend the money on the production. It’s big and gory and has a sensational cast, which must have been a dream for talented director George P. Cosmatos. The rumor says he got fired from one production for spitting in the face of an employee at the production office! One of the last movies he was involved with was Tombstone, but he was just hired to pretend to be the director. He just sat around the sent, relaxed and watched Kurt Russell do the job. But he still did good work and Leviathan, while lacking a personal stamp of some kind, still is one of my favorites from his interesting filmography.
There’s just one question left regarding the film: what use did the crew have of big, futuristic flame-throwers down in the underwater base?
I guess we will never find out…