Wednesday, 2 July 2014

COMPLETING FILM SHOWDOWN - Deepstar Six vs Leviathan

Looking at film and television. Sometimes two very similar films come out close together, let's see which one is better...
Undersea Base Showdown
(Match 1)

In January 1989 DeepStar Six was released months before March's Leviathan.  Both were about monsters attacking undersea bases.



Both trailers.

HOW DID IT HAPPEN?
It is assumed that the success of Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986) and an attempt to cash James Cameron's big budget follow-up to Aliens, the undersea film The Abyss lead to these films being made.

Round 1
TITLE
"Under every deep a lower deep opens" ~ Burciaga quoting Emerson (DeepStar Nine)

DeepStar Six
An evocative name, named after the base.  Of course, after 1993 the name becomes a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine joke.

Leviathan
A biblical name, named after the Russian ship the monster's from.

TIE.


Round 2
PLOT
"I think we're in big trouble boss" ~ McBride (DeepStar Nine)


Days away from returning to the surface the crew of a undersea base are killed off one by one by a menace that they disturb.

DeepStar Six:  Scientists and military work for months at a time on the DeepStar Six station.  It's purpose: to build undersea weapons platforms, with the scientists allowed to use the base if they help with the mission.  Discovering a cavern under the new site - and running out of time to complete their job, they decide to blow up the cavern, unleashing a creature from billions of years ago which has been attack people throughout history.

Leviathan:  Undersea miners find a sunken Russian ship and accidentally brings a experimental Russian retro-virus designed to created aquatic humans aboard with turns some of the crew into a hideous creature.

Leviathan is more convoluted and silly, DeepStar Six is pretty much a 50s monster fill idea.  I'm going with Leviathan.

WINNER:  LEVIATHAN.

Round 3
HORROR
"Loosely translated:  Don't fuck with mother nature." ~ Doc (Leviathan)

DeepStar Six tries the go with the tension with an unseen creature on sonar for most of the film, and quick cutting and "something in the water" for the rest of it.  There is some gore and a alien looking monster.  Tries to be Alien and Tremors underwater but fails.
Leviathan has more jump scares.  Tries for "anyone could be infected" when the source was pretty obvious.  The creature itself is strongly body-horror.  Tries to be The Thing underwater, but fails.

Both are trying to be other, better films, mainly Alien, but Leviathan pulls it off a little better.

WINNER:  LEVIATHAN.

Round 4
THE MONSTER
"This thing that attacked you... would you say it was more like a natural force or an aggression type of thing?" ~ Snyder (DeepStar Six)

An ancient monster.  Standard weird creature with multiple mouths and a solid body.  Also appears to be both as big as a whale or sub and small enough to get into the base.
  • Indirect:  4, though damage to vehicles and bases or the results of them.
  • Direct:  2.
  • By others:  3, one killed by accident by another crewman, one explosive decompression and one electrocute herself when trying to kill the creature.


An attempt to make aquatic humans gone wrong.  A dismorphic body absorbing mess that becomes a standard weird creature.

  • By virus/infection:  2.
  • Directly killed:  3.
  • By other:  1 suicide.
Although it killed less people, the virus/creatures in Leviathan had a smaller victim pool, and a higher proportion.

WINNER:  LEVIATHAN.


Round 5
THE EFFECTS
"Whatever it is... it's apparently some kind of genetic aberration." ~ Doc (Leviathan)

The underwater stuff was poor.  The creature was OK, but nothing spectacular.  There was a hideous green-screen moment at the end of the film.

Leviathan used dry-for-wet (filming underwater scenes without water).  Cutting to actual underwater footage just made in more obvious.  The creature effects varied.  The creature changed from rubber faces to generic creature, but had some great transition moments, which give it to that film.

WINNER:  LEVIATHAN.

Round 6
CHARACTERS & ACTORS
"I've never been in one place long enough to know somebody let alone settle down." ~ McBride (DeepStar Six)

Hero:  McBride - Greg Evigan (DeepStar Six) vs Steven Beck - Peter Weller (Leviathan)

  • Weller is a better actor, but is too stoic in the role at times..
  • McBride has the standard fears-commitment-but-changes story, Beck is the a more interesting character, a weak leader trying to cope in a role he doesn't want, usually a much weaker character who dies in these things.  Just for that, I'll give this to Leviathan.
Heroine:  Joyce Collins - Nancy Everhard (DeepStar Six) vs Williams - Amanda Pays (Leviathan)

  • Everhard doesn't look like a Navy Seal, but Pays seems to be phoning it in.
  • In terms of story, they are really both love interests to the main character.  With Williams/Beck is seems the usual tacked on Hollywood love story, Collins/McBride has more meet to it.
  • Williams feels like the tougher character, though, so Leviathan.

Supporting Heroine:  Scarpelli - Nia Peeples (DeepStar Six) vs Bowman - Lisa Eilbacher (Leviathan).

  • Bowman is the slasher film "slut" character (although she doesn't sleep with anyone), while Scarpelli is a far more interesting character who had the characteristics of a potential survivor.  DeepStar Six.

Token Black Guy:  Philip Laidlaw - Taurean Blacque (DeepStar Six) vs Jonesy - Ernie Hudson (Leviathan)

  • Laidlaw is the captain, but gets killed early (as is custom).  Jonesy survives to the very end, only to die at the last minute.  Leviathan.


Joker:  Richardson - Matt McCoy (DeepStar Six) vs Six Pack - Daniel Stern (Leviathan)

  • Richardson was more playful, Six Pack more of a jerk (see below).  DeepStar Six.

Coward:  Snyder - Miguel Ferrer (DeepStar Six) vs DeJesus  (Leviathan)

  • Dejesus had a panic attack for no real reason other than adding tension at the beginning of Leviathan.  The character of Snyder may have been written badly, but Ferrer made it great.  DeepStar Six.


The Jerk:  Snyder - Miguel Ferrer (DeepStar Six) vs Bowman - Lisa Eilbacher (Leviathan)

  • Haven't I done these 2 characters already?  Sure, but these characters are so complex that, yadda, yadda, OK, just go with me on this one.
  • Both are responsible for causing a lot of the problems and needless crew tension.  As noted above Ferrer does well in the role, but there's a repulsive charm about Six Pack that gives this to Leviathan.


Token Russian:  Burciaga - Elya Baskin (DeepStar Six) vs Russian Ship Captain - Eugene Lipinsky (Leviathan)

  • Not really fair, as the Russian captain is a moment of footage and, well, Elya Baskin is always great, but there's no need to be fair: DeepStar Six.


Medico:  Diana Norris - Cindy Pickett (DeepStar Six) vs Doc Thompson - Richard Crenna (Leviathan)

  • Norris is pretty nothing until her heroic death at the end of the film, Crenna gives Thompson, his more complex story and necessary evil actions a certain charm. Leviathan.


Canon Fodder:  Hodges - Thom Bray, Osborn - Ronn Carroll (DeepStar Six).

  • No equivalent in Leviathan.

Wise Older Guy: John Van Gelder - Marius Weyers (DeepStar Six) vs GP Cobb - Hector Elizondo (Leviathan)

  • Actually, Van Gelder probably has elements of Cobb and Doc Thompson and even a touch of Martin, making him more interesting.  DeepStar Six.


Evil Company Exec:  Martin - Meg Foster (Leviathan)


    • No equivalent in Leviathan.

    TIE

    Round 7
    HORROR FILM RULES
    "I did everything by the book.  I followed by orders." ~ Snyder, (DeepStar Six)


    Using The Film Rules for Slasher Films comparing how well they fit the genre.   (Sure, neither are a slasher film, but the rules vaguely fit the genre.

    1.  Warning.

    DeepStar Six:  Scarpelli talked about legends and previous expeditions.  No one listed.
    Leviathan:  No warning prior to finding the vessel, but a cryptic video of the captain's log.
    More warning in DeepStar Six.

    2.  T&A.

    DeepStar Six:  Suggested nudity in a shower scene, a little wet t-shirt action later in the film.
    Leviathan:  Underwear during check-up, wet underwear in shower.  Naked in the shower (bits cover). 
    Both showed little (but not much for the genre), more was shown in Leviathan.


    3.  Punishment.

    DeepStar Six:  Death is a punishment for blowing up caverns and being under the sea.  Osbourne & Hodges go where they shouldn't.  Two couples in sexual relations, both members of one survive.  Two men discuss porn.
    Leviathan:  Punishment for drinking vodka, mostly just killed after that.  The first victim had porn.
    More punishment going on in DeepStar Six.


    4.  Die When you go...

    For a shower:  Scarpelli survives a shower (but dies later) but there is only the suggestion of nudity (DeepStar Six).  Jonesy showers while getting a check-up, also only suggested nudity, but Bowman suicides in the shower not really the same thing being killed "because" of showering.
    Out-buildings:  In DeepStar Six the Sea Track obeservation pod counts: 2 die in it, one who was in it when the monster attacked and one of the rescuers.  Two survived.  There is no "outbuilding" in Leviathan.
    Anywhere remote:  Deep ocean bases are about as remote as you can get, and are both.  Going off into the cavern to find the damaged remote (DeepStar Six) probably counts too.


    5.  Order.

    DeepStar Six:  Osbourne & Hodges, Burciaga, Laidlaw, Richardson, Scarpelli, Van Gelder.  Snyder.  Norris.
    Leviathan:  Six Pack, Bowman, Dejesus, Cobb, Doc, Jonesy.

    Pretty much the same order.  However, rather than the dying early, the black guy dies at the end, meaning the one that follows this rule is DeepStar Six.

    6.  Cannot Rely On...

    Lighting:  They can't use the lights because the creature hunts by following light in DeepStar Six.
    Vehicles:  Had to swim for the sub in DeepStar Six.
    Authorities: The evil company is evil in Leviathan.
    Weapons:  Accidentally used on one of their own in DeepStar Six.
    Escape Routes:  The nuke stopped their ability to decompress, and thus unable to use the escape pods in DeepStar Six.  A convenient inconvenient hurricane stops them leaving in Leviathan, and Doc jettisons the escape pods.  Tie.

    7.  Final Girl.

    In DeepStar Six Scarpelli looked tougher and had shorter hair than Collins, although Collins was the Navy Seal.  Scarpelli got more naked (just) with a shower scene, then again Collins had a wet t-shirt action.  But both women were in sexual relationships.
    In Leviathan, Bowman has the bigger boobs and hair and was proud of both, she wondered around in a towel while feeling sick and was naked when she commited suicide.  Williams dressed more masculine and wanted to be an astronaut (traditionally male occupation).
    However, the guy is the real hero in both cases.    All the women are known by nicknames/surnames (a masculine trait).  The Final Girl the dynamic is most obvious in Leviathan.

    8.  The Killer.

    Connected to the location:  Cavern (DeepStar Six) vs Sunk Russian ship (Leviathan).  The cavern wins, I think.  No real connections to the victims (although, it did literally in Leviathan that isn't the point of the cliche).  No real distinctive look as both copied other creatures.  DeepStar Six.

    9.  Evil Never Dies.

    It didn't seem to come back from the dead at the end in either film.  The creature in Leviathan dies if it can't get blood, whereas the creature lived in a cavern for billions of years and survived electrocution, in DeepStar Six.


    10.  Sequels.

    Neither film has a sequel.  Tie.

    WINNER:  DEEPSTAR SIX


    Round 8
    MORAL VICTOR
    "This company's commitment is to the almighty dollar." ~ Doc (Leviathan).

    As stated above, both seemed to be made to cash in on better films, so neither can claim moral victory. 

    TIE.

    Round 9
    SO BAD IT'S...
    "Get out of here.  Save yourself." ~ Laidlaw (DeepStar Six)

    When a film is "so bad it's good" it's usually funny to watch people try so hard and fail so badly.  Neither of these films do that.  They are a combination of people trying and succeeding being let down by people who don't seem to be trying at all.  Part of it is budget, part is the blatancy of trying to cash in on earlier horror films (and the later Cameron film) without trying anything to be anything more.  So neither is so bad they're good.  They're both not very good horror films but not as hideous as Leviathan is probably the better and more watchable film, but Deepstar Six isn't as bad as people accuse it of being, so I'll throw it a bone.

    WINNER:  DEEPSTAR SIX

    Round 10
    BOX OFFICE
    "You take your money too seriously." ~ Williams (Leviathan)

    US Opening Weekend (Box Office Mojo):

    US Box Office (Box Office Mojo):

    WINNER:  LEVIATHAN.


    Round 11 
    RATINGS
    "Is it hot?  Is it wet?  It is ripe?  Is it smooth?" ~ Snyder, DeepStar Six.

    IMDb user rating:
    Rotten Tomatoes - Tomatometer
    Rotten Tomatoes - Audience (Want to See It)


    WINNER:  LEVIATHAN.


    Round 12
    SHOWDOWN REVIEWS
    "The Valiant report is pure speculation." ~ Van Gelder (DeepStar Six)

    Blogs:
    Podcasts:

    WINNER:  LEVIATHAN.


    Round 13
    READER'S POLL
    "It absorbs the intelligence of its victims." ~ Beck (Leviathan)

    Do the reader's poll.


    RESULTS SO FAR
    "Will someone let the rank and file in on what you're talking about?"

    DEEPSTAR SIX:  3.5 (2 wins, 3 ties)

    LEVIATHAN:  8.5 (7 wins, 3 ties)
    ~ DUG.

    1 comment:

    1. Watched them both over the last couple of days (DeepStar Six first). leviathan is clearly the better movie: better actors, better production values, better dialogue. But it's not a great film either ...

      ReplyDelete