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Leviathan Blu-Ray Review

Blu-Ray Review- Leviathan

Distributor: Scream Factory

Street Date: August 19th 2014

Technical Specifications: 1080P Video, Color, 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Runtime: 98 Minutes

Leviathan (Scream Factory)

Leviathan (Scream Factory)

The Film:

Released in 1989 in direct competition with two other aquatic-themed science fiction films (Deep Star Six and The Abyss), Leviathan may not have blown away the critics or scored big at the Box Office, but it has slowly and rightfully developed a cult following over the years. Featuring one of the most underrated movie monsters in film history (designed by Stan Winston) and solid performances from a talented cast with great on-screen chemistry, Leviathan remains a wildly entertaining creature feature that deserves more recognition.

Directed by George P. Cosmatos, Leviathan stars Peter Weller as Steven Beck, geologist and captain of a deep sea mining crew in charge of mining for precious metals for the Tri-Oceanic Corporation. With only a few days left on the job, the crew is looking forward to getting back home to their families and back to the real world. The team consists of the always absent Dr. Glen Thompson (Richard Crenna), soon-to-be astronaut Elizabeth “Willie” Williams (the beautiful Amanda Pays), the horn-ball Buzz “Six-Pack” Parrish (Daniel Stern), the cool and calm Justin Jones (Ernie Hudson), and the seasoned veteran G.P. Cobb (Hector Elizondo) among others. Each of the ragtag crew are fully fleshed out in a short amount of time, letting the viewer inside their claustrophobic world of dirty jokes, pranks, and bitching about the job.

Things take a turn for the worse when two of the crew members fall off the mining platform and stumble upon a soviet shipwreck. Dr. Glen is able to translate the Russian name of the ship to Leviathan, a vessel that oddly shows up on “active duty” when they search their computer database. “Six-Pack” decides to bring a rusted safe back from the wreck, which the crew happily explores, finding some alcohol and other souvenirs. But that’s not all they brought back with them! One by one, the crew becomes sick with an unidentified virus that mutates them into a terrifying creature capable of absorbing their bodies and minds, and continuously sprouting horrifying appendages. With a hurricane on the surface affecting their escape, and an ever-growing list of excuses from Tri-Oceanic Corp as to why they can’t be rescued, the crew is forced to battle the creature and find their own way to survive.

Twenty-five years after its theatrical release, Leviathan remains an incredibly exciting creature feature with top-notch performances, brilliant special effects from Stan Winston, and exciting action sequences. While it may borrow elements from other movies in the genre, the execution from Director George P. Cosmatos is near perfection, leaving the viewer on the edge of their seat for the entirety of the film. Revisiting the film on Scream Factory’s brand new Blu-Ray edition was a treat, and makes for one of my favorite releases from their Summer of Fear lineup.

Video Quality:

I was incredibly pleased with this transfer of Leviathan from Scream Factory, and this is without a doubt, the best it’s ever looked on home video. Color grading is important on a release like this, especially with a film that features such deep underwater blues and metallic shine, and the work here is consistently solid. Detail in facial features, clothing, the mining gear, and especially the creature itself is very clear in High Definition. The transfer is clean and virtually free from any artifacts or anomalies as well. The natural grain structure has been left intact, making for a beautiful and authentic presentation.

Audio Quality:

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track sounds terrific on your home theater system, and I was actually taken aback by how dynamic and balanced this sounds in HD audio. The underwater mining station has some very fun background effects that envelop the audience, dialogue is always strong and clear, and the frenetic mayhem in the latter half of the film is powerful on this track.

Special Features:

Scream Factory has provided fans of Leviathan with an array of great special features for this Blu-Ray release. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included:

  • Leviathan: Monster Melting Pot– This 40 minute documentary focuses mostly on Stan Winston’s creature effects, featuring entertaining stories and anecdotes from the team that worked closely with him, and is an absolute treat for Leviathan fans. This is very well assembled, mixing entertaining highlights from the individual interviews with clips from the film. Breaking down everything from concept drawings to effects rendering and assembly, as well as the occasional awkward tension and arguments between Stan and Director George P. Cosmatos (chalk it up to egos and creativity), this is yet another fine addition to the phenomenal special features that Scream Factory has come to be known for. The Leicht/Scream Factory team strikes again!
  • Dissecting Cobb with Hector Elizondo- How can you not adore this guy? Hector Elizondo is fascinating to listen to, and comes off as such a seasoned professional and joyful human being. Discussing everything from the heavy fiberglass suits to a particularly claustrophobic moment on the set, he’s ridiculously entertaining! I loved hearing about the advice that Lee Marvin gave him on one of his first movies, as well as his thoughts on the late, great, Stan Winston.
  • Surviving Leviathan with Ernie Hudson- Ernie Hudson sits down with the folks at Scream Factory to discuss his experience making the film. Ernie is very engaging from start to finish, discussing his thoughts on everything from the monster design (“I thought it looked like a chicken.”) to working with the politically incorrect George P. Cosmatos, and seeing the film with an audience in South Central, Los Angeles. I had no idea the filmmakers achieved the underwater segments by simply floating small feathers in the air underneath the actors. It’s very clear that Ernie didn’t agree with a particular death scene in the film as well…very clear. His stories are fun, and this extended interview is well put together!
  • Theatrical Trailer- The original theatrical trailer for Leviathan, fast paced and fun, and genuinely gives the viewer a decent look at what they’re in for.
  • More from Scream Factory- Vintage trailers for other titles in the Scream Factory line including: Without Warning, Lake Placid, Saturn 3, and Swamp Thing.

The Packaging:

As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this Blu-Ray edition from Scream Factory features the original theatrical poster design for Leviathan (which also makes for a fun animated menu on the disc). The poster is one of my favorites! Honestly, who doesn’t remember that image, the tagline (“How long can you hold your breath?”), and those cheeks on Amanda Pays while perusing their local video store during their childhood? On the reverse of the packaging you’ll find a plot synopsis, a list of special features and technical specifications, as well as select production stills from the film. On the interior of the packaging is the Blu-Ray disc and some fun reversible cover art.

Leviathan (reverse)

Leviathan (reverse)

Leviathan (interior)

Leviathan (interior)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Report:

Twenty-five years after its theatrical release, Leviathan remains an incredibly exciting creature feature with top-notch performances, brilliant special effects from Stan Winston, and exciting action sequences. The Blu-Ray transfer from Scream Factory boasts impressive detail, authentic color reproduction, and is virtually artifact-free. I was taken aback by the dynamic power of the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track as well. Once again, the special features are the standout aspect of this release, with some truly terrific documentaries and interviews with the cast and crew from the film. Leviathan is one of my personal favorite titles from Scream Factory’s Summer of Fear lineup, and this brand new Blu-Ray edition comes highly recommended.

Yours Truly,

Doctor Macabre

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