Leviathan is a 1989 science fiction horror film about a hideous creature that stalks and kills a group of people in a sealed environment, in a similar vein to such films as Alien and The Thing. It is one of many underwater-themed movies released around 1989, including The Abyss, DeepStar Six, The Evil Below, Lords of the Deep, and The Rift (Endless Descent).
Martin, CEO of Tri-Oceanic Corp, hires geologist Steven Beck to command an undersea mining operation for six months. While working outside their deep sea station in a pressure suit, one of the crewmembers, Sixpack, discovers a Soviet shipwreck, Leviathan. The crew salvage a safe from Leviathan, finding records detailing the deaths of several crew members as well as a video log from the captain. Sixpack also finds a flask of vodka which he shares with Bowman.
Doc and Beck review the captain's video, which describes puzzling medical problems amongst his crew. They also discover that Leviathan was scuttled.
The following morning, Sixpack feels sick and Doc discovers lesions along his back. He dies a few hours later, but Doc and Beck keep it quiet to avoid a panic. Doc checks the crew to confirm no one else is sick, but does not have the chance to examine Bowman.
While Beck and Doc confer with Martin on the surface, Bowman begins feeling ill. She finds Sixpack's corpse, which is mutating and growing. Beck and Doc request emergency evacuation, but Martin reports a severe storm on the surface that will delay evacuation for 12 hours.
Doc finds that Bowman killed herself. Her body is taken to sickbay, where it merges with Sixpack's. When the crew discovers the mutating bodies, they decide to dump both of them in the ocean. As they are about to "flush" the cadavers, the body bag begins squirming. Believing someone inside may be alive, the crew opens it.
The creature inside claws Cobb before they eject it. They realize that Leviathan was experimenting on its unwitting crew with mutagens. The mutagen was mixed with the vodka that the crew, and later Sixpack and Bowman, drank. The ship was scuttled when the experiment escaped control.
A piece of Sixpack's leg was severed when the corpses were ejected; it mutates into a lamprey-like creature that attacks Dejesus in the kitchen. Jones seals the kitchen's pressure doors and goes for help. He asks Cobb to watch the door, but when he searches for a weapon, the creature assimilates Dejesus and rips its way out of the kitchen. It then grows tentacles that attack the crew.
The creature attacks the medical bay, devouring blood and plasma from the cooler. This inspires Beck to use a freshly drawn pint of his blood to attract the beast, then attempt to flush it the same way they did with Sixpack and Bowman.
Doc ejects the escape pods so that no one can escape and risk bringing the mutagen to the surface. Beck consults with Martin for emergency evacuation. Martin assures them that they will not be left behind, but that she cannot carry out the rescue because of a hurricane.
Cobb's injuries worsen, causing him to mutate and infect Doc. Williams escapes as Beck and Jones try trapping the creature. They escape to another part of the station.
The crew tries accessing weather information through the computer, but it is blocked. Williams asks the computer for a financial report from the company and they discover that the Tri-Oceanic Corporation has declared them dead, labeling it an accident.
The creature damages vital systems, causing the pressure to drop and an implosion to occur in a short period of time. They decide to use their dive suits to escape.
The creature attacks them, but is crushed by the lift as Beck escapes. They make it to the surface, which is perfectly calm and sunny, where they are attacked by a shark. As they are met by a Coast Guard helicopter, the mutant surfaces nearby and tries to take Jones. He keeps it from escaping at the cost of his own life, and Beck throws a demolition charge into the creature's mouth, causing it to explode.
After they are dropped off on a Tri-Oceanic oil drilling platform, the two survivors are greeted by Martin. Martin tells them she believed they would make it, smiling insincerely and asking how Beck feels. Beck punches Martin in the face, knocking her out, and then answers her question by saying "Better. A lot better."
- Peter Weller as Steven Beck
- Richard Crenna as Dr. Glen Thompson
- Amanda Pays as Elizabeth 'Willie' Williams
- Daniel Stern as Buzz 'Sixpack' Parrish
- Ernie Hudson as Justin Jones
- Michael Carmine as Tony 'DeJesus' Rodero
- Lisa Eilbacher as Bridget Bowman
- Hector Elizondo as G. P. Cobb
- Meg Foster as Martin
Leviathan was directed by George P. Cosmatos. The film's story was written by David Peoples and Jeb Stuart. Stan Winston was the producer for the creature special effects.
The film grossed $15,704,614 (USD) in 1,393 theaters and was the #2 movie the weekend it opened. However, it was received poorly and currently has an 11% percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes with only two 'fresh' and 17 'rotten' reviews.
Writing for the New York Times, Janet Maslin was reserved in her praise and wrote that it "compares favorably with the other recent aquatic horror film Deepstar Six but probably not with anything else" and that "The latter half of the film is one long feeding frenzy, guided by a familiar horror-film principle: survival of the best-looking."
The score to the film was written by veteran composer Jerry Goldsmith. Goldsmith used a number of creative ways to identify the score to the film, such as incorporating the use of recorded whale sounds into the music during the opening credits. The soundtrack was released through Varèse Sarabande in 1989 and features eleven tracks of score with a running time just under forty minutes.
- "Underwater Camp" – 3:23
- "Decompression" – 3:16
- "Discovery" – 5:24
- "One Of Us" – 1:41
- "The Body Within" – 4:33
- "Escape Bubbles" – 5:37
- "Can We Fix It" – 3:25
- "Situation Under Control" – 1:49
- "It's Growing" – 3:10
- "Too Hot" – 3:27
- "A Lot Better" – 3:31
- Near the beginning of the movie, when Tony 'DeJesus' Rodero's oxygen is about to run out, the captain tries to do something with a computer on board. Between 3D animations and strange interferences on monitor, we see Luxo, Pixar's logo, with a ball, like in the first ever short film made by Pixar Luxo Jr. (1986).
- 50 to 60 spec drawings of the potential look for the creature were submitted to director George P. Cosmatos. All the drawings were combined for the final definitive look for Leviathan which was a huge, fish-headed beast with dagger like teeth with the ability to absorb recognizable characteristics from its victims.
- There are very few scenes in the film that were actually shot underwater, as production went for the "dry for wet" look. With most of the scenes inside the Shack taking place on soundstages and a tank measuring 130ft x 270ft.
- According to the sleeve notes on the DVD, a dry for wet lighting test by Alec Thomson used an old army tank for the wreck of the Leviathan,and some make shift diving suits were made using padded football suits and helmets from 2010:The Year We Make Contact.The final suits in the film were designed by Steve Burg and built by Stan Winston's crew.
- Chicken feathers were used at one point of shooting the underwater sequences to suggest things were floating around in the water. According to Alex Thomson this did not work because the feathers floating side to side instead of up and down and the idea had to be scrapped all together.
- In designing the creature of the film, Stan Winston and George P. Cosmatos went through a mini-library of marine life pictures and medical reference books. They were inspired by the physiology of the natural world, and came up with the idea of combining human body parts and elements of deep sea marine life into an unnatural creature never seen on film before.
- Hector Elizondo's character of Cobb is named after the film's production designer, Ron Cobb. Also, 'Michael Carmines character of Tony 'DeJesus' Rodero, shares the same last name of the film's first assistant director, 'Kuki Lopez Rodero'.