Over the weekend I watched two 1989 sci-fi horror films. I thought it might be interesting to compare George Cosmatos’ Leviathan and Sean Cunningham’s Deep Star Six.
What they share is being films about crews at the bottom of the sea dealing with monsters. Leviathan aims for a rather lofty goal of being Alien At the Bottom of the Ocean. Deepstar Six is more of a straightforward monster movie. Both are special effects heavy. Both films are a whose who of character actors. Leviathan features Peter Weller (Robocop), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, the Crow), Daniel Stern (Home Alone), Hector Elizondo (Nothing In Common), Meg Foster (Stepfather 2, They Live) and Richard Crenna (First Blood, Rambo 2 & 3). Deepstar Six has Matt McCoy (Police Academy 5 & 6, L.A. Confidential), Greg Evigan (My Two Dads), Nia Peeples (Fame), Miguel Ferrer (Robocop) and the go to Russian Guy of the 80’s Elya Baskin.
Leviathan is the story of deep sea miners who have been trapped under sea for months, days away from returning to the surface. Weller is the boss, Richard Crenna the doctor who doesn’t normally show up… everyone else are miners. They are kinda of on edge, anxious to get back to the surface…one day, they stumble on a Russian ship at the bottom of the ocean. Stern discovers a safe. They open the safe and things start to get mysterious. There is vodka and a series of folders marked deceased. And the ship is supposedly still afloat somewhere with a fleet. Stern takes up sick, with Crenna unable to determine why. Eventually, they determine that the Russians were trying to create an aquatic fish man, and Stern wasn’t sick, he was changing. Like in alien, the crew is systematically killed by the creature until the survivors find they have to get to the surface, because the base will implode.
Deepstar Six is about a military crew creating an underwater military base. They open a hole in the sea floor to a cavern that turns out to contain some giant crab like creature. It eventually gets into the base (in the memorable moment of the film which was used for the covers and posters, a guy gets bit in half). Soon, they find there is a reactor going to blow (it’s nuclear), so they have to the surface. But the creature is confined to one room full of water. So the script has to come up with all sorts of reasons to send the characters back in. It gets tedious.
Of the two, Leviathan is the better film and certainly more entertaining. One way is they both have the “last minute scare”, but it only makes sense in Leviathan. The monster in Leviathan is also a bit freakier. It’s a little weird to think that Cosmatos would go on to direct 1993’s Tombstone (one of his final films). Cunningham did not do much directors, sticking more to the producer’s chair ever since.
These are not great films, but Leviathan is passable as pure entertainment.