I sometimes watch and love movies that as a professional script consultant I really should not. These films are often B Movies, or low budget horror pictures, films that I love despite my professional instincts and years of craft, screaming in my ear–this doesn’t work!
Leviathan (1989) is a film that was most likely rushed into production in the few months before James Cameron’s The Abyss–which was expected to be a tremendous success (it wasn’t). Director George P. Cosmatos was essentially making a film that was ‘cashing in’ – a quick cheapie similar to big budget fair. The hilarious thing is that Leviathan (1989) despite its MANY faults is the much better and more entertaining film.
The Abyss has always kind of bored me, whereas Leviathan (1989) is a ripoff of The Thing, and Alien – set underwater, and has very little pretensions to be any other thing that an entertaining (sometimes corny) B-Movie.
It’s actually not bad at all, moves at a whip, has some semi-decent performances and performers (step forward, Richard Crenna, Daniel Stern and Ernie Hudson). The rubbery special effects are by Stan Winston’s studio, and the film was made before CGI took over so the sets and a lot of the effects are practical, in camera stuff. The budget limits a lot of this, but the film bats above average, and gets a lot of bang for your budget on screen.
Ultimately, towards the end of the film it throws everything at the screen, and the ending kind of confirms that nothing here was meant to be taken seriously, but even now, the films remains good natured, daft and entertaining as hell.
The director also made Tombstone (1993) a ridiculously popular modern western. That film was also helped by not taking things too seriously and great casting – Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer make a great Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.
Tombstone was also made around the time of ‘Wyatt Earp’ another big budget western – starring Kevin Costner as Earp. I really like the Costner film–but far fewer people saw it, or remember it as well as Cosmotos’ ‘Tombstone’
So, it appears that this director, of entertaining B films, had a habit of beating the big guns at their own game. You could watch this film, and Tombstone, in about the same running time of The Abyss or Wyatt Earp, and you might be a lot better entertained too.
Matthew Cooper has been a scriptwriter for hire, UK Script editor and UK script consultant for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award-winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. His UK script coverage service, Script reading service and script development service are highly sought after.
You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb.