Sunday, 17 March 2019


Title: Leviathan
Director: George P. Cosmatos
Released: 1989
Starring: Peter Weller, Richard Crenna, Amanda Pays, Daniel Stern, Ernie Hudson, Michael Carmine, Lisa Eilbacher, Hector Elizondo

Plot: A group of deepsea miners discover a Soviet shipwreck, Leviathan only to bring back with their salvage an entity which soon begins working its way through the crew. 

Review: One of a slew of Underwater Sci-fi horror released in the wake of The Abyss alongside Deep Star Six a film which proved as tricky to get hold of. Unlike Deep Star Six this one actually proved to be worth the effort as it plays like a more horror focused version of The Abyss with a dash of John Carpenter’s The Thing thrown in for good measure.

Directed by George P. Cosmatos whoat this point was coming into the film hot after directing both Rambo: First Blood 2 and Cobra; here though he calms things back alittle as he introduces a crew of blue collar deep sea miners headed up by geologist Steve Beck (Weller) who like the rest of the crew is looking forward to the shift change in 4 days. However the chance discovery of the scuttled Soviet ship soon brings with it all kinds of problems when the experiment which was being tested on the unknowing crew is soon wreaking havoc on the mining team.

Despite the B-movie roots of the film each of the crew are given enough depth to help them standout more than disposable monster chow, though at the same time most of the crew for the first quarter are overshadowed by the pervert antics of Six Pack played here by Daniel Stern who spends most of his time in the film trying to hit on or just straight up sexually harass the two female crew members which is the kind of thing that you could never get away with now, especially with his boob mug and the centrefolds he plasters across his bunk. The crew in general though are a likeable bunch with Ernie Hudson getting a few great lines while Weller is enjoyable as the lead his performance remains as diversive as ever especially in the first quarter were he seems to actually be confused about what he’s supposed to be going while his payoff line of “Open wide Motherfucker!!” comes off a little more amusing than I think it was originally planned.

Shot on sound stages in Rome the layout of the Miner’s “Shack” is actually very similar to the Deep Core research station of The Abyss in that everything is raw steel and exposed pipes but at the same time we see throughout this station subtle details such as the screens playing footage of landscapes and sunlamps to strive away the effects of being underwater for long periods. Such a functional setup of course only works the better during the final were the high pressure of the surrounding ocean slowly crushes the station causing the internal structure to collapse and spectacularly implode. At the same time the lack of sterile work areas and clunky diving suits designed to deal with the high pressure really give the film a presence and memorable look which complements this crew of blue collar workers, striving off the boredom and cablin fever of their surroundings till the next shift change.

While the monster action is alittle slower than expected to start as what initially starts out seemingly as an infection after two of the miners consume vodka they fund amongst their salvage from the ship and because seemingly no one told this pair about why you don’t drink things you find on sunk ships the film soon mutates into body horror before the film just turns into a full blown monster on the loose movie. Much like as in Alien though the crew also have to deal with the shady plots of the company higher ups here represented by an almost otherworldly Meg Foster who communicates with Beck via the station video monitor, though it’s soon becomes clear that they might be working their own agenda as always seems to be the case in these movies.

With Stan Winston handling the creature effects they still look impressive if never going as crazy as Rob Bottin’s effects for The Thing. However watching the film now it doesn’t really matter as with these kind of movies now just being the preferred output of the Asylum and the SYFY channel to actually have a half decent film with practical effects leaves you feeling kind spoiled to not be subjected to subpar CGI. At the same time the monster does have a few unique quirks of it’s own as we see crew members absorbed into it’s skin adding a nice moral quandry for those attempting to fight it as they are faced with the prospect of having to kill their friends in order to kill the monster.
A fun throw back which serves as a reminder as to how far this sub-genre has fallen and while it might not reach the same heights as The Abyss it’s a notable step up from Deep Star Six and perhaps if the tension was built upon more it might be more fondly remembered. Regardless there is still plenty for genre fans to enjoy here.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

The Cult of Chucky

Title: Cult of Chucky
Director: Don Mancini
Released: 2017
Starring: Fiona Dourif, Michael Therriault, Adam Hurtig, Alex Vincent, Jennifer Tilly, Brad Douriff

Plot: Four years on from the events of Curse of Chucky Nica (Fiona Dourif) has been confined to a mental institution after being framed for the murder of her family by Chucky (Brad Douriff). Now transferred to a medium security unit, only to soon find herself tormented once more by the killer doll.

Review: The Seventh instalment in the Chucky franchise its actually quite staggering that there is still any life left in this series and while the other icons at this point were heading to space, crossing over to other franchises or in the case of Pinhead just constantly feel like has just wandered into the wrong movie. Chucky on the other hand has just become a more grotesque visage over the course of the films to the point were he has just been now reduced to a heavily mutated head being kept in the wall safe of series mainstay Andy (Alex Vincent) or has he?

Certainly it’s clear from the start that Mancini much George Romero with his zombie saga that he making these films for the fans rather any kind of critical audience but despite this it’s fun seeing him trying to sew the series together by giving Andy more of a cameo as he’s opens the film on a date which quickly turns sour when his date discovers his troubled past of being tormented by the killer doll with mention of his babysitters murder giving us a flashback to her demise in the first film. Sadly we don’t get to see any more of these classic even though Andy does mention them in the same scene.

Focusing once more on Nia as we pick up her story four years on from Curse of Chucky were she has been confined to a mental institution and now left questioning if Chucky was even real. However being moved to a medium security unit it’s not long before Chucky is up to his usual antics helped largely by the fact that somehow these good guy dolls keep showing up at the facility. Initially as a therapy tool if one which is soon being passed around the residents as Mancini somehow manages to play the long game in dragging out the inevitable reveal that Chucky is very much alive. Considering how we are so deep in the series the fact that he is able to still pull off such mind games with this character really is a credit to Mancini as he really builds the tension by having the usual methods of having Chucky reveal himself such as burning the dolls hand all fail.

The location itself is suitably isolated to make such a small cast effective while the sterile whiles and snow covered landscapes make nice change for the series even if we are denied a rewarding show of blood sprayed across snow. Equally considering that the majority of the potential victims are all paitents helping with the early mind games as a early murder is written off as suicide.

Curse of Chucky had felt in many ways like a reboot for the series and a chance to rework its formula  with the more obvious slasher shocks being traded out for genuine tension so it feels like something of a step back in many ways to see the film slipping back into old habits even though the revel of what the cult of the title is certainly an interesting move for the series. Of course with the upcoming remake it did leave me wondering if we’d ever get to see this angle come to fruition especially ending on the cliffhanger of sorts it does. Seeing Andy though potentially being setup as the franchise’s Dr. Loomis is an exciting prospect which sadly doesn’t come to fruition thanks largely to Andy kind of failing in the hero department.

Thankfully the character of Chucky still feels as fresh as ever with Dourif seemingly showing no kind of acting fatigue from playing the character for so long there is certainly fun to be had, more so when he’s as creative a lil psycho as ever giving us an incredible kill sequence involving a skylight and a compressed air cylinder finally delivering the payoff that was sorely missing from the greenhouse kill in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle . The main issue here is that Chucky is clearly here a character being crushed under the weight of his own mythology which is certainly not helped by Mancini’s determination to make everything tie together rather than starting the journey afresh as the previous film had seemingly set things up to be this especially coming to a head when Jennifer Tily’s Tiffany has to confirm that she’s not actually Jennifer Tilly, which is infact a throwback to Seed of Chucky than the kind of baffling logic seen in Oceans Twelve were Julia Roberts imitated Julia Roberts! Regardless it was only after I looked it up on IMDB that this plot element became clear, while certainly not helped by Seed being the forgettable mess that it is.

While Cult is far from the worst entry in the series it’s unquestionably a step down from the previous film and with remake on the Horizon it’s unclear if Mancini’s vision for the franchise will ever materialise despite claims of more film and a TV series to follow whether this will happen or not remains to be seen.
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