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Film / Leviathan (1989)

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"Natura non confundenda est. Loosely translated: don't fuck with Mother Nature."
Dr. Thompson on the fate of the crew of Leviathan.

A 1989 underwater horror film starring Peter Weller, Amanda Pays, Richard Crenna, Ernie Hudson, Daniel Stern, Meg Foster, and Héctor Elizondo.

An underwater mining crew about to return to surface discovers a sunken Russian ship, the Leviathan (Левиафан). However, said ship is supposed to be currently operating in the Baltic Sea and suspicion arises. The captain left a video log saying that the entire crew has fallen to an unknown disease, but the log cuts short as someone enters the captain's quarters. A crewmember referred to as Sixpack keeps a bottle of liquor found in the ship but it makes him sick the next day, and everything goes horribly wrong.

Leviathan stole everything from Alien and The Thing and never tries to hide it. Special effects were done by Stan Winston, and the music was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, which only seems appropriate all things considered (see Trivia for an idea of what he thought of the movie).

Leviathan was released the same year as (and in the US some months before) The Abyss, and was promptly forgotten. B-movies starring Peter Weller and Amanda Pays seem to have this as a recurring theme.

Not to be confused with the 2014 movie of the same name made by Andrey Zvyagintsev.


  • Action Survivor: Both Williams and Beck by the end. Not trained combatants, but still able to fight the creature off.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • There are several scenes of Martin silently pondering after the messages sent from the station, one of them focusing on her Creepy Blue Eyes, which don't really follow on but seem to suggest... something. Her attitude also seems strangely ambivalent, as she initially tries to dismiss the infection and make the crew finish their turn normally, yet mere seconds later, when Beck asks for emergency extraction, she suddenly changes her mind, tells him a lie about a hurricane to retain them there, and writes a report leaving all of them for dead. Whether all of this has an explanation, possibly a hidden agenda, is never clarified.
    • Apparently, a Soviet experiment to try to give people gills turned them into something out of The Thing (1982), complete with the ability to infect and absorb any lifeform they come in contact with. An experiment which was also tested on an unknowing crew by pouring the mutagens into their vodka, of all things and procediments. Now, it is important to remember all of this is just an in-universe theory by Dr. Thompson. Were the Soviets really trying to just create fishmen? Was it really an experiment in the first place? At least a little of Doc's theory seems legitimate due to the fact the ship was torpedoed and sunk.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The video tapes the crew finds on the sunken Russian vessel turn into this as they watch them. The last entry is of a very nervous commanding officer saying something has gone wrong... and the door to his quarters slowly opening behind him...
  • Artistic License – Biology: The remaining crew would be too sick to move from the Bends after rocketing up from 12,000 feet undersea, never mind fighting sharks and sea monsters.
  • Assurance Backfire: When the crew contacts the surface after they see that Doc Thompson ejected the escape pods:
    Martin: I know you've been through hell...
    Jones: "Been through"? Bitch, we're still here!
  • Anti-Villain: Doc becomes this when he ejects the escape pods to keep the creature from escaping, trapping the crew in the process.
  • Bio-Augmentation: This is apparently what was attempted with the Leviathan crew. It did work, but definitely not in the way that it was supposed to.
  • Black Dude Dies First: An extreme and cruel inversion. The very last death, about 100 seconds before the credits roll, after the survivors reach the surface and are already being rescued by a helicopter crew is Jones.note 
  • Blatant Lies: Martin, the Corrupt Corporate Executive, says she can't evacuate them because of a hurricane on the surface. When they finally escape to the ocean surface, there's nothing but blue skies. Worse yet, she had the meteorological files for that day and a few days afterwards locked down so the crew can't find out, but she does nothing to prevent them from checking the faked news broadcast that says they died in an "accident" prepared in advance by the press department.
  • Body Horror: The mutation takes over the host body and makes it a creepy, eel-like mess of tentacles and teeth.
  • Body of Bodies: The dead/infected crewmembers eventually join together to form a mess that doesn't really look like anything, although in the later monster, it retains the faces and heads of Doc and DeJesus The latter of whom actually speaks to Beck and shows that despite being mostly melted alien goo, his consciousness is still alive in the creature.
  • Chainsaw Good: The cast arm themselves with saw-like mining tools when the monster attacks grow in intensity.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Martin sends the crew to the ship, fully aware of what will happen. When the remaining crew eventually contacts her begging for help, she tells them that rescue can't arrive because of a hurricane (there is none — she even orders the meteorological reports of the next few days locked down so they won't find out) and goes on to order the press department to write an eulogy article for the crew's "accidental" deaths (which they do manage to access, due to Willie having shares in the company).
  • Crapsack World: At least, from Cobb's perspective. He states that there's no fresh air in town, his house "looks just like everyone else's," his wife's a fat harpy, and his kids are junkies, so he's not at all eager to go home.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: For forty minutes.
  • Disappeared Dad: Cobb proudly states that being stationed underwater allows him to be this to his family without repercussion, since he noted that he hates his family.
  • Driven to Suicide: Bowman after seeing Sixpack's corpse and realizing what was happening to her.
  • Dull Surprise:
    • Damn it Beck, if the base is falling apart and monsters are stalking through it, it means you should EMOTE SOME, PERHAPS!
    • As if Martin couldn't be a worse Corrupt Corporate Executive, she barely emotes or changes the tone of her voice from what she probably believes is a pleasant one. She comes off as being pretty creepy as a result, especially since she's played by Meg Foster who has distinctive creepy eyes.
  • Dwindling Party: As soon as Sixpack and Bowman drink the tainted vodka, it's all downhill from there. DeJesus, Cobb, Doc Thompson, and Jones also end up victims of the creature before the credits roll.
  • Eldritch Ocean Abyss: The film is about an underwater mining crew 15,000 feet below the surface that slowly dwindles due to attacks by a mutant creature.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: A two-fer while on the remaining three characters are on watch. Beck suddenly has an epiphany to check the meteorological files. He finds them sealed, which confirms his suspicions that the company isn't racing to their rescue. Beck muses the company is waiting to decide how to handle the situation, which prompts Williams to think to check the news articles and see how bad their situation really is. Considering the news article she reads indicates they've all been killed in a mining accident, bad is an understatement.
  • Fan Disservice: We get Bowman in nothing but a towel but she's infected with an illness that has scales growing on her neck and her hair falling out. Then later on we get her naked in the shower after she's slit her wrists.
    • Williams also gets a brief shower scene, but she's sobbing uncontrollably and scrubbing herself in a way that indicates she's trying to psychologically "cleanse" herself, as they've just been attacked by the creature made up of Six Pack and Bowman's corpses.
  • Fanservice: The movie manages to find an excuse to get Amanda Pays down to her underwear.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Cobb is obviously a goner when he mentions his family back up on the surface. In an odd subversion of how the trope is usually played, he hates them and is down here to keep away from them.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The crew members who get infected throughout the movie are shown to retain their consciousness far into the physical transformation, even past merging with each other.
  • Fold-Spindle Mutilation: Referenced in a conversation about a diver who got crushed into his own helmet when his deep-diving suit developed a leak in the toe.
  • Friendship Moment: Jones apologizing to DeJesus for their earlier argument and wrecking his puzzle. Sadly, DeJesus is attacked by the creature soon afterwards.
  • From a Single Cell: A piece of tentacle gets severed when the creature is thrown out the airlock. It mutates into a more deadly form that attacks DeJesus. Cobb is also infected when the creature scratches him before going out the airlock.
  • The Generic Guy: DeJesus gets the least characterization out of the crew.
  • Godzilla Threshold: What's left of the crew use the dive suits to get back to the surface. Jones outright calls this crazy, but with mere minutes before the station implodes and the creature trying to breach the nearby door, Beck says it's this or nothing.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: What happened with the eponymous ship Leviathan and subsequently to the mining station. It's almost a textbook example.
  • Hope Spot: Though horrified by what they saw in the airlock, the remaining crew at least think they're safe and can get their bearings, but they miss that a tentacle got severed and is now right under their feet. And growing.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Cobb right before the inevitable.
  • It Can Think: Doc theorizes that the creature obtains the knowledge of those infected and absorbed. This is demonstrated when the creature goes for stored blood in the medical bay. Later, the creature damages systems affecting air and pressure in a particular spot, and Beck immediately suspects it's deliberately trying to draw them out of hiding into an ambush. Given the location, Beck even surmises that it chose that spot because it's retaining Cobb's consciousness.
  • Jack up with Phlebotinum: The crew of the underwater mining facility find a sunken Russian ship and inside find what they think is vodka, which they gladly drink. It's actually a solution which has The Virus, mutating the crew into a hideous monstrosity.
  • Lamprey Mouth: The severed tentacle sports one after mutating.
  • LEGO Genetics: The Soviet Superscience experiment Gone Horribly Wrong was a serum to recombine people's DNA and probably give them underwater breathing abilities... which also somehow manages to turn them into a copy of The Thing.
  • Little "No": Beck after seeing the escape pods have been launched, leaving what's left of the crew trapped on the station.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: With mining tools, which (because of the Ocean Punk setting) include such things as a freaking flamethrower.
  • The Medic: Doc, albeit a particularly incompetent one, although it's arguable that it's not incompetence and more laziness from being bitter about being a formerly prestigious man of medicine reduced to working in an undersea station because it's the only place that will take him. He has some sound, and intelligent theories about the creature, and most of them seem to likely have been accurate. Also, once the infection has been noted in Sixpack he works quickly to make sure none of the rest of the crew are showing the infection as well. In fact, in the early goings, Doc takes the situation FAR more seriously than Beck does, though Beck soon catches up to Doc in the worried factor.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Doc regrets having inadvertently killed his patients.
  • The Needs of the Many: As the situation gets worse, Doc ejects the station's escape pods to keep the surface world from being exposed to the infection.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: As the climax ramps up, the creature's final form is initially only glimpsed at, showing either close ups of particular parts or the whole thing out of focus in background. We get a better look at it when Beck is making his escape, though the footage is still cut in ways for more rapid glimpses.
  • Ocean Punk: The mining station has definitely seen better days and mining 15,000 feet beneath the ocean's surface is pretty dangerous business.
  • Oh, Crap!: Doc's expression indicates this when the computer tells him Sixpack's illness is potentially genetic alteration.
    • He gets another when Cobb turns and a mouth opens in his hand, which he slowly lowers to struggling Doc's face. Doc loses the fight.
    • Played for laughs when Jones discusses the experiment theory. He says the mutagen was put in the vodka because it was a Russian crew, so he muses it would've been put in coffee for an American crew. Just after hearing this, Cobb hesitates taking a sip from a freshly poured cup, and he can't help but look at it nervously.
  • Only Sane Man: After dumping the bodies out the airlock, everyone else is a wreck and discussing what just happened. DeJesus, however, just wants to calmly work on his puzzle, saying he can't affect the things beyond his control and thus won't stress over that.
  • Poor Communication Kills: After seeing what's happened to the first two victims, Doc and Beck decide to have the corpses thrown out the airlock, only telling the crew that they died of infection. So when the bodybags start twitching, the crew naturally want to open them thinking someone is still alive.
  • Pragmatic Hero: Doc. As the situation keeps escalating further and further out of control, Doc decides (on his own) to release the escape capsules and thus ensure that the creature that is trying to kill them will remain trapped at the bottom of the ocean. Beck, Jones, and Williams view him more as an anti-villain after he's been infected by the Cobb creature and they find out he's removed one of their options to escape.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Peter Weller gets a great one before putting a grenade in Leviathan's mouth, blowing it up. (Ironically the monster's screech does sound a bit like an ARRRRGH!)
    Steven Beck: SAY "AHH," MOTHERFUCKER!
  • Properly Paranoid: Doc is certain that Martin knew what would happen by sending the crew to that ship. He's also fairly certain that there is no hurricane and Martin and company are leaving them down there while they decide what to do with them In this case, he's proven exactly right.
  • Quarantine with Extreme Prejudice: Implied that it happened to the Russians when Doc points out that the Leviathan was sunk with a torpedo.
  • Race Against the Clock:
    • The Dwindling Party is told that the hurricane means they'll have to wait 48 hours to be rescued. This, however, is a lie, as Martin is effectively leaving them to die. After getting to the surface, the surviving characters even comment on how pleasant the weather actually is.
    • When the creature later damages the systems, the remaining crew have nine minutes before the station suffers an implosion. They try to make repairs, but the damage is too severe, leaving them only six minutes to escape the station.
  • Recycled In SPACE: Leviathan is basically Alien set in an underwater mining base, with a monster resembling The Thing. So The Thing from Space Recycled Underwater!
  • Sex Sells: The female character on the poster (Williams) doesn't really rise from the crushing depths in a bathing suit while her male colleagues wear JIM suits... OK, most of the way. Beck and Jones keep their regular clothes while at some point before getting into the JIM suit Williams changed to a legless diving suit.
  • Shower of Angst: Bowman kills herself while in the shower.
    • Williams also takes one After the bodies of Six Pack and Bowman show they've been genetically altered and attack before being removed from the underwater base.
  • Single Tear: Doc does this, while being overcome by the infection.
  • Slime Ball: Sixpack is a real piece of work. Casually sexually harasses his female coworkers, makes dick jokes at the dinner table, mocks his boss to his face, and hares off in the middle of his shift.
  • Soviet Superscience: The Leviathan was a Russian vessel, and the testing was done by the Soviets.
  • Super-Strength:
    • After the first attack, a crewman shuts the infected crewman behind a pressure door and runs to get a weapon. When he returns there's a massive hole ripped in the door.
    • The survivors go to don a JIM suit and find a creature staring at them from behind it. The creature promptly rips apart the suit like tissue paper to get at them.
  • Tested on Humans: The Soviet scientists the worked on the Bio-Augmentation project in the Leviathan just gave the serum to the crew members by slipping it into their vodka, with no apparent concern about such things as seeking volunteers or keeping it isolated (as well as a control group, though in this case we could assume people don't usually mutate into abominations through mere placebo).
  • This Is Gonna Suck: While discussing their options, Jones suddenly sees Doc's face in a darkened area and is more confused than anything else. Beck immediately tells Jones to get moving, readying his flamethrower and fully expecting this to be bad. He's absolutely right.
  • Threatening Shark: When the crew finally manages to get to the surface, they are briefly attacked by sharks.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: The underwater version of this is attempted twice in the film and it still backfires both times.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sixpack and Bowman drink liquor found on a sunken ship where the crew had mysteriously died from a contagious illness.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Beck, who's a simple geologist, and Williams.
    • Doc also gets one, although it's more mental that physical. After seemingly being detached and lazy in the early goings, once he discovers what they're dealing with, he goes into overdrive to try to understand the situation and protect the remaining members of the crew.
  • Town Girls: The three females in the movie. No-nonsense Olympic runner Williams is the butch, sexy secretary Bowman is the femme, and Corrupt Corporate Executive Martin is the neither.
  • Two Girls to a Team: The crew of the mining station is two women to six men.
  • Underwater Base: The mining station.
  • Used Future: Taking obvious cues from Alien. We never see much of the surface, and we never know what year it is, but judging by what Cobb says, it's the sort of near-future Crapsack World that was popular in sci-fi films of the 90s, with dense pollution, out-of-control drugs, and corporations like Oceanic that don't care much for the safety of their employees.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Inverted. The more feminine Bowman dies, while the tomboyish Williams lives.
  • The Virus: The unintended result of the Leviathan experiment.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Secretly feeding a ship crew chemicals that will cause mutations doesn't sound like a good idea in any context. Seriously, how were the Soviet scientists intending to monitor the results?
    • Smuggling booze off of a ship where the entire crew was killed by some sort of contagion? One wonders how Sixpack managed to survive this long.
  • Wham Line: As Dr. Thompson analyzes the results of Sixpack's skin test with the computer and asks it for answers to the "unknown organism."
    Computer: No idea.
    Thompson: Goddamn it, take a guess.
    Computer: [processing] Genetic alteration?
  • Wham Shot: After Sixpack has been pronounced dead, an unaware Jones visits the infirmary and briefly talks to him. The corpse suddenly starts moving, enough that Jones is convinced he's actually still alive.
  • Would Hit a Girl: And does — in the last shot of the film before the credits, Beck lays out Corrupt Corporate Executive Martin, who's female, with one punch when she asks how he's feeling. ("Better," he answers as she hits the ground. "A lot better.")
  • Zombie Infectee: Cobb is a strange subversion. He's clearly infected and everyone is much aware of this but he keeps fighting the monster with the other remaining survivors until his transformation finally kicks in with full force. Although, while it's obvious to the audience that Cobb isn't well, it's questionable how obvious it is to the crew. Sixpack and Bowman die after ingesting the contaminant, and Doc Thompson may not be aware that it can also spread by physical contact. (He never offers it as a theory, and neither does anyone else.) Doc is also completely at ease around Cobb right before he turns and attacks and kills Doc. If Doc was truly clued in that Cobb was infected, it would be assumed he'd take more care when being around Cobb. Further, Cobb only really shows signs that something is physically wrong with him (he's sweating and pale) RIGHT before he turns and attacks Doc.