AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Director: George P. Cosmatos (Dir)
Release Date:   17 Mar 1989
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 Mar 1989
Production Date:   began 18 Apr 1988
Duration (in mins):   98
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Cast:   Peter Weller (Beck)  
    Richard Crenna (Doc)  
    Amanda Pays (Willie)  
    Daniel Stern (Sixpack)  
    Ernie Hudson (Jones)  
    Michael Carmine (DeJesus)  
    Meg Foster (Martin)  
  With Lisa Eilbacher (Bowman) As Bowman
  And Hector Elizondo (Cobb)  
    Eugene Lipinsky (Russian ship captain)  
    Larry Dolgin (Helicopter pilot)  
    Pascal Druant (Winch operator)  
    Steve Pelot (Winch operator)  

Summary: 16,000 feet below the Atlantic Ocean a team of miners finish the eighty-seventh day of a ninety-day mission, when DeJesus’s suit malfunctions and loses air. Beck, the team leader, orders the miners to rush DeJesus to the habitat module. His next call to “Doc” for medical aid goes unanswered, but DeJesus gets aboard just as his suit runs out of oxygen. Later, the crew’s resentment against Doc grows when he joins them in the mess hall and does not apologize for not being at his station during the crisis. To prevent a mutiny, Beck tells the crew if they do some light maintenance on the habitat, they can have the next day off. “Sixpack,” a redneck drill jockey, plants a crab in DeJesus’s suit to scare Willie, a British woman, when she repairs it. He is chastised by Bowman, a red headed woman, who orders him to clean the day room. Down in the engine room, Cobb, an older mechanic, shows Jones, another drill operator, how to fix the carbon recycler with chewing gum. Beck calls topside to talk to Martin, a high powered female executive who insists Doc is a qualified researcher although a serum he developed killed some people. Beck turns down her offer to talk to Doc about his lax attitude. The next day, Sixpack is drilling when he falls off a cliff and loses radio contact. Willie goes after him, and discovers a sunken ship named Leviathan. Bowman runs the name through the computer to learn the ship is listed as being on active duty in the Baltic Sea. Willie pushes on and discovers Sixpack carrying a safe and proclaiming his new-found wealth. Onboard, the crew opens the Leviathan safe to find a videotape of the Captain’s log, a flask of vodka, which Sixpack steals, and files marked deceased. As Beck views the videotape, Doc translates the Russian Captain reporting his whole crew is down with a strange disease, but the tape cuts off before he can give any details. Later, Sixpack and Bowman share the stolen vodka. The next day, Sixpack reports to sickbay where Doc discovers Sixpack’s skin is becoming scale-like. Beck calls Martin to request a medical evacuation, but after being informed that an early departure will be a black mark on his record, he decides to wait for their scheduled pick-up. In sickbay, Doc takes a skin sample from Sixpack and discovers his cells are mutating. He sends his findings topside to a Naval hospital, and learns that this is an unknown disease. After Sixpack dies, Doc and Beck teleconference with Martin and demand immediate evacuation, but she tells them a hurricane is nearing, preventing pick-up for at least twelve hours. Not wanting to alarm the crew, Doc and Beck keep Sixpack’s death a secret. Meanwhile, Bowman gets so sick that Willie and Jones carry her to sickbay. They go to find Doc, leaving Bowman to discover her skin is also becoming scaly and her hair is falling out. She goes to see Sixpack and finds his dead body mutating into a monster, then she runs into a shower and slashes her wrists. Beck finds her body and puts it with Sixpack’s. He calls a conference to explain about the hurricane. Hearing glass breaking in sickbay, Doc and Beck rush to find both corpses have merged and are further mutating. Fearing contamination, they put the bodies into a body bag and have the crew carry them to the airlock. A claw rips open the bag and scratches Cobb. They hurl the bodies into the airlock and slam it shut, but a deformed leg is chopped off and falls unseen onto the deck. It rolls into a desalination unit where an eel-like creature wiggles out of the severed limb. After Doc and Beck view footage of the sunken ship, they realize the crew’s skeletons are malformed. Doc suggests the Russians were conducting genetic experiments to create humans who could live underwater. Later, DeJesus and Jones are in the mess hall when the creature leaps from an overhead compartment and chews its way into DeJesus’s chest. Jones rushes out of the room and activates the airlock. He returns with Doc and Cobb to discover the monster has chewed through a steel door. Then the lights go out. After finding Willie, Beck explains everything to the crew. Doc reports that the creature has eaten their blood supply, which means the creature is growing and getting hungry. Also, the fact that it knew where the blood supply was indicates it absorbs its victims’ memories. Armed with power saws, drills and flamethrowers, the crew searches for the creature. Doc and Cobb see sparks coming from a cable box. Cobb puts his saw down to fix it and the monster latches onto his leg. Doc cuts it in two with a saw, but both pieces wiggle away. Realizing they cannot escape, Beck decides to set a trap. He has Doc take blood from each of the crew, then he and Jones, armed with flamethrowers, smear a trail of blood to the dive platform at the outer airlock. Doc leaves Willie and Cobb, claiming he is getting bandages for Cobb’s wounds, but he goes to the bridge and releases the escape pods. He returns to Cobb and Willie to discover Cobb’s chest has something inside it. Cobb lifts his hands to reveal teeth growing in his palms and attacks Doc as Willie escapes. In a passageway she sees the first monster, which has become a biped with multiple arms. Before she can scream, Beck yanks her into a suit room. Realizing there are two creatures, Beck decides to abandon ship. He, Willie and Jones rush to the bridge and discover a message Doc sent to the company stating he released the escape pods to contain the disease and for them not to attempt a rescue. Beck calls Martin who claims the hurricane has worsened and it will be another forty-eight hours before they can be rescued. Beck attempts to check the weather report, but the computer denies him access. Willie pulls up a news report that lists the crew names as deceased due to an underwater accident. Alarms go off and a computerized voice states pressure is dropping and implosion of the complex will occur in ten minutes. Finding the main air vent damaged, Jones tells the crew their only chance is to use the diving chamber’s air supply. As they make for the airlock, one of the creatures attacks. They burn it to death with the flamethrowers. Another appears, but dripping water has extinguished both flamethrowers, so Beck rips out two wires and electrocutes the monster. The habitat begins to break up around them, as another creature, which still has Doc’s face, grabs Beck. Beck uses a saw to cut off its arm. Finding they are unable to reach the air valves, Beck orders Jones and Willie to get into their diving suits, then attaches floats to their suits. Another creature arrives wearing DeJesus’s face. Beck hits the button to lower his crewmen into the ocean, then pours flammable liquid onto the floor, lighting it with a flare. As the creature battles the blaze, Beck gets suited, and lowers himself outside the module seconds before it implodes. Upon reaching the surface, the three survivors find sunny skies. They fire a flare at a Coast Guard helicopter. As the airship descends, the DeJesus creature breaks the surface and kills Jones. Beck hurls an explosive into its jaw and it blows up. They are flown to an oil rig where Martin greets them. When she claims she knew Beck would survive, he punches her in the face and walks away with his arm around Willie. 

Production Company: Gordon Company  
Production Text: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Luigi & Aurelio De Laurentiis present
A Gordon Company Production
A Film By George P. Cosmatos
Leviathan from Filmauro
Brand Name:

Distribution Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (An MGM/UA Communications company)
Director: George P. Cosmatos (Dir)
  Juan Carlos Lopez Rodero (1st asst dir)
  Matt Earl Beesley (1st asst dir)
  David Turchi (2d asst dir)
  Luca Lachin (2d asst dir)
  Marco Alberti (2d 2d asst dir)
Producer: Luigi De Laurentiis (Prod)
  Aurelio De Laurentiis (Prod)
  Lawrence Gordon (Exec prod)
  Charles Gordon (Exec prod)
Writer: David Peoples (Scr)
  Jeb Stuart (Scr)
  David Peoples (Story)
Photography: Alex Thomson (Dir of photog)
  Mike Valentine (Underwater cam op)
  Ramon Bravo (Underwater cam op)
  Giuseppe Maccari (Addl photog)
  Nick Milner (1st asst cam)
  Chyna Thomson (2d asst cam)
  Phil Barthropp (Asst underwater cam)
  Roy Larner (Gaffer)
  Fernando Massaccesi (Gaffer)
  Tony Cridlin (Key grip)
  Ennio Brizzolari (Key grip)
  Marco Carosi (Video playback)
  Robert Habros (Optical cam, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  David S. Williams, Jr. (Optical cam, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  Frederico Del Zoppo (B cam op)
  Gaby Bzdega (B cam asst)
  Sergio Strizzi (Still photog)
  Francesco Bellomo (Still photog)
  David James (Spec still photog)
  JVC (Video equip by)
  Panavision® (Underwater cam by)
Art Direction: Ron Cobb (Prod des)
  William Ladd Skinner (Supv art dir)
  Pier Luigi Basile (Supv art dir)
  David Klassen (Art dir)
  Franco Ceraolo (Art dir)
  Steve Burg (Conceptual artist)
  David J. Negron (Storyboard artist)
  Fred Lucky (Storyboard artist)
  David J. Negron, Jr. (Prod Illustrator)
Film Editor: Roberto Silvi (Ed)
  John F. Burnett (Ed)
  Richard Leeman (1st asst ed)
  Gillian L. Hutshing (Asst ed)
  Beverly Pinnas (Asst ed)
  Giorgio Conti (Asst ed)
  Roberto Olivieri (Asst ed)
  Kevin Angeletti (Apprentice ed)
  Aldo Manni (Negative cutter)
Set Decoration: Robert Gould (Set dec)
  Bruno Cesari (Set dec)
  Alfredo Vincenti (Const coord)
  Craig Edgar (Set des)
  Jim Teegarden (Set des)
  Maria Teresa Barbasso (Set des)
  Alessandro Alberti (Set des)
  Daniela Giovannoni (Set des)
  Susanna Giovannini (Asst set des)
  Marco Trentini (Asst set des)
  Etta Leff (Asst set dec)
  Cynthia Sleiter (Asst set dec)
  Boni Fraulo (Prop master)
  Paolo Luciani (Asst prop master)
  Giuseppe Cancellara (Asst prop master)
  Domenico Mancino (Asst prop master)
  Ivano Tedeschi (Painter)
  Agostino Bivi (Painter)
  Alvaro Belsole (Const coord, Malta)
Costumes: April Ferry (Cost des)
  Carla Latini (Ward supv)
  Gianpietro Grassi (Dresser)
  Augusto Grassi (Dresser)
Music: Jerry Goldsmith (Mus)
  Kenneth Hall (Supv mus ed)
  Alan Snelling (Mus rec eng)
  Arthur Morton (Orch)
  Nancy Beach (Orch)
  Forum Studio, Rome (Mus score rec at)
  The National Academy of Santa Cecilia Orchestra (Performed by)
  Jerry Goldsmith (Cond by)
Sound: Robin Gregory (Sd mixer)
  Terry Sharratt (Boom op)
  Mike Le-Mare (Supv sd ed)
  Terry Porter (Re-rec mixer)
  Mel Metcalfe (Re-rec mixer)
  David J. Hudson (Re-rec mixer)
  David Lewis Yewdall (Sd eff ed)
  Karola Storr (Foley ed)
  Virginia Cook-McGowan (Dial ed)
  Teri E. Dorman (Dail ed)
  John Post (Foley artist)
  James Dean Fisher (Foley artist)
  Jay Engle (A.D.R. ed)
  Steven J. Schwalbe (Asst sd ed)
  Desmond Cannon (Asst sd ed)
  Janelle Showalter (Asst sd ed)
  Laura Graham (Asst sd ed)
  Carmen Hocson (Asst sd ed)
  Chris St. Clair Gribble (Apprentice sd ed)
  Buena Vista Sound Studios (Re-rec at)
Special Effects: Stan Winston (Creature eff prod by)
  Stan Winston Studios (Creature eff des and created at)
  Alec Gillis (Creature eff des and created at Stan WInston Studios by)
  Richard Landon (Creature eff des and created at Stan WInston Studios by)
  Shane Mahan (Creature eff des and created at Stan WInston Studios by)
  Shannon Shea (Creature eff des and created at Stan WInston Studios by)
  John Rosengrant (Creature eff des and created at Stan WInston Studios by)
  Tom Woodruff, Jr. (Creature eff des and created at Stan WInston Studios by)
  Nick Allder (Mechanical eff supv)
  Barry Nolan (Visual eff supv)
  Grant Arndt (Creature eff crew)
  John Blake (Creature eff crew)
  Roger Borelli (Creature eff crew)
  Craig Caton (Creature eff crew)
  Greg Figiel (Creature eff crew)
  Steve Frakes (Creature eff crew)
  Mark Garbarino (Creature eff crew)
  Karen Mason (Creature eff crew)
  Pat McClung (Creature eff crew)
  Mike McCracken (Creature eff crew)
  Jim McPherson (Creature eff crew)
  Hal Miles (Creature eff crew)
  Brian Penikas (Creature eff crew)
  Jon Price (Creature eff crew)
  Kevin Reter (Creature eff crew)
  Andy Schoneberg (Creature eff crew)
  Russel Seifert (Creature eff crew)
  Mike Spatola (Creature eff crew)
  Michiko Tagawa (Creature eff crew)
  Mike Trcic (Creature eff crew)
  Robert Bernacchi (Creature eff crew)
  Rachel Resnick (Creature eff crew)
  Nick Espostos (Creature eff crew)
  Steve James (Creature eff crew)
  Steve Johnson (Creature eff crew)
  Jeff Kennemore (Creature eff crew)
  Giovanni Corridori (Mechanical eff coord)
  Allan Bryce (Mechanical eff crew)
  John Hatt (Mechanical eff crew)
  Renato Agostini (Mechanical eff crew)
  Tonino Testa (Electronic eff coord)
  Perpetual Motion Pictures (Visual eff and computer graphics)
  Richard Malzahn (Computer graphics, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  Charles L. Finance (Visual eff prod mgr, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  David B. Sharp (Model shop supv, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  James Belohovek (Model maker, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  C. Mitchell Bryan (Model maker, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  Eric Skipper (Model maker, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  Ed Thompson (Asst model maker, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  Niels Nielsen (Asst model maker, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  Paul Stewart (Asst model maker, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  Jurgen Heimann (Asst model maker, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  Michael Shukausky (Model stage crew, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  Steve Mesner (Model stage crew, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  Richard Marchewka (Model stage crew, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  Fidel Gruber (Model stage crew, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  Rene Clark (Model stage crew, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  Gaetanino Corsetti (Video ed, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  Eric Graham (Computer graphics software, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  Jeff Knaggs (Computer graphics software, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  Isobel De Luca (Admin, Perpetual Motion Pictures)
  Industrial Light & Magic (Addl visual eff by)
  Cinema Research Corporation (Addl visual eff by)
  Title House, Inc. (Titles by)
Make Up: Zoltan Elek (Key makeup artist)
  Katalin Elek (Makeup artist)
  Aldo Signoretti (Key hairstylist)
  Marina Marin (Asst hairstylist)
Production Misc: Mike Fenton (Casting)
  Jane Feinberg (Casting)
  Lynda Gordon (Casting)
  Maurizio Amati (Exec in charge of prod)
  Lucio Trentini (Prod supv)
  Paolo Gargano (Unit mgr)
  Amedeo A. Ursini (Prod assoc)
  Gabriella Toro (Prod coord)
  Ceri Evans Cooper (Scr supv)
  Dennis Parrish (Prod advisor)
  Roberto Malerba (Unit coord)
  Mike Seares (Underwater coord)
  Gianna Di Michele (Prod accountant)
  Alfio Tempera (Buyer)
  Daniela Vecchi (Asst prod coord)
  Hope Lemberg (Asst to Mr. A. De Laurentiis)
  Renata Bellotti (Asst to Mr. A. De Laurentiis)
  Ulrika Ljungberg (Asst to Mr. G. Cosmatos)
  Luigi Scardino (Asst prod accountant)
  Otello Tomassini (Asst prod accountant)
  Clementina Obriot (Computer op)
  Giorgio De Vincenzo (Post prod supv)
  Franca Tasso (Prod coord, Malta)
  Francesca Ghiotto (Scr supv, Malta)
  Bill Edwards (Unit pub)
  Cinecitta' Film Studios, Rome (Filmed on loc at)
  Mediterranean Film Studios, Malta and the Gulf of Mexico (Filmed on loc at)
  Warner Hollywood Studios (Post-prod at)
Stand In: Randell Widner (Stunt coord)
  Rocco Lerro (Stunt coord)
  Ottaviano Dell`Acqua (Stunts)
  Fabiola Tocca (Stunts)
  Alessandro Ponti (Stunts)
  Charles Tabansi (Stunts)
  Massimo Giovannucci (Underwater stunts)
  Bobby Rhodes (Underwater stunts)
  Paola Giacomini (Underwater stunts)
Color Personnel: Carlo La Bella (Col supv)
  Technicolor® (Col by)
MPAA Rating: R
Country: Italy and United States
Language: English

Source Text:

PCA NO: 29642
Physical Properties: Sd: Spectral Recording Dolby Stereo in Selected Theatres
  col: The majority of this film was photographed on AGFA XT Color Negative
  Lenses: Cameras and lenses by J-D-C

Genre: Adventure
Sub-Genre: Action
Subjects (Major): Betrayal
  Genetic engineering
  Sea monsters
Subjects (Minor): Asphyxia
  Divers and diving
  Sea rescues
  United States. Coast Guard

Note: The following title cards appear after opening credits: “Atlantic Ocean, 16000 Feet Deep,” “Tri Oceanic Mining Corporation,” “Mission: Extraction of Silver and Other Precious Metals,” and “Classification of Mission: Extremely Hazardous.”
       The following statements appears in end credits: “The producers would like to thank The Italian Ministry of Defense, The Italian Air Force - 15th Squadron, Alitalia, AGIP - Saipem, for their contributions to the making of Leviathan” and "Special thanks to Tag-Heuer, Penthouse, Trackluce by Sames, Carl Zeiss West Germany, Pepsi Cola."
       According to an article in 11 May 1988 Var, producers Luigi and Aurelio De Laurentiis learned in Aug 1987 that De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG) did not have the finances to produce Leviathan. With the help of Seven Greenwood of DEG, they were able to acquire the rights for the project and self-financed it. Although producer Dino De Laurentiis was not directly involved with production, his Film & Television Co., was in charge of foreign sales.
       Various contemporary sources estimate the film’s budget was between $22 to $25 million.
       Although the 26 Jan 1988 HR stated that principal photography was scheduled to begin in Mar 1988, an 11 May 1988 Var news brief reported it began 18 Apr 1988 in Rome, Italy. Almost all the interior shots took place at Cinecittá Film Studios, while the sea-based filming took place in Malta.
       The 11 May 1988 Var article reported that on 6 May 1988, members from three different unions employed at Cinecittá called a strike to protest being forced to work a six day week. Despite Aurelio De Laurentiis arguing that all salaries were based on a six day week and exceeded what the workers had negotiated with the Italian film industry, he and fellow producer, Luigi De Laurentiis, agreed to a five day work week.
       According to an Apr 1989 AmCin article, director George P. Cosmatos had originally planned to build a water tank to film the underwater scenes, but quickly realized that building such a structure for one production was cost prohibitive. The wreck of the Leviathan alone was eighty feet long and forty feet high, and a track used for the miners to load their ore was another ninety feet long, which meant the tank would have to be even bigger than Cinecittá’s 130 foot by 270 foot water tank, which was used for some of the scenes. Also, shooting underwater with the actors would require the deep sea suits to be practical instead of fiberglass mock-ups. Cosmatos decided to use “dry for wet,” which is the technique of using smoke and lighting to give the effect of being underwater. Visual effects supervisor, Barry Nolan, and director of photography, Alex Thomson, decided to conduct tests where they constructed a temporary set and heated vegetable oil in pressure lamps to produce smoke. To create the illusion that plankton was floating in the water, they had two workmen spend three days cutting up chicken feathers that they then dropped in front of fans. Unfortunately, the feathers dropped in straight lines instead of floating about and collected on the floor. Thomson later fixed this problem by using candelotti, a slow burning solid alcohol used in camping stoves. After being lit and the flame blown out, the fuel will smolder and produce fine white flakes. Italian filmmakers had been using candelotti for years as artificial snow. These flakes are so light they float in the air for several minutes and swirl in eddies before landing and dissolving.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library, each dive suit was individually cast from hundreds of pounds of fiberglass and molded rubber at the cost $30,000. The suits restricted movement and even with built-in fans became hot and humid.
       A 23 Jun 1988 DV news brief reported actor Hector Elizondo was almost crushed when a technician pressed the wrong button on his dive suit.

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
American Cinematographer   Apr 1989   pp. 30-33.
Daily Variety   23 Jun 1988.   
Hollywood Reporter   26 Jan 1988.   
Los Angeles Times   17 Mar 1989   p. 4.
New York Times   17 Mar 1989   p. 18.
Variety   11 May 1988   p. 7.
Variety   22 Mar 1989   p. 22.

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