Friday, November 19

The Rift (Endless Descent) (1989) - Shochiku Home Video Japan VHS

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In the nearly single year boom of deep sea monster flicks spurred by Cameron's The Abyss, Juan Piquer Simón's The Rift is the last place also ran of the bunch. The director behind the wonderfully grisly slasher, Pieces (1982), points-and-shoots his way through this potboiler with no flare either behind or in front of the bolted down camera. A high tech deep sea submarine is lost and its designer (Jack Scalia) is called upon to find its black box on a retrieval mission. Inevitably, the whole thing is a set-up and suddenly the group is menaced by a giant algae monster that sometimes looks like a fried egg white. A superior Ray Wise is regulated to second fiddle with a stallion-haired Scalia delivering the usual stubbled hero dude bullhockey. Decorated ex-drill instructor R. Lee Emery appears as the Naval captain leading the crew dependably sleepwalking through his performance.

Sensing this was going to be "one of those", I switched to a viewing perspective that totally rejects reality. Enjoyment levels rise when taking it as a good ol' Italian rip-off as it has many of the hallmarks. Some of the actors appear dubbed, the sets consist of bulky electronics randomly glued onto walls, and some gratuitous gore livens things up. Heads explode, limbs are torn off, monster tentacles tear apart like melons, gangrenous blanders pulse on victims, corpses call out for SOS, and claymation comes in for a few of the creature shots. The bio-suited cavernous gun/monster battles also echo Luigi Cozzi's Contamination (1980). Ultimately inoffensive crap at only seventy-nine minutes; although I'd suggest Antonio Margheriti's Alien from the Deep (Alien degli abissi) as the preferable 1989 trash alternative to The Abyss, Leviathan, and Deep Star Six.

I suspect Shochiku Home Video's VHS was simply taken from the standard English print since it has full English credits. In the same fashion as Grotesque, the Japanese's picture quality has a "baked", eroded appearance presumably compared to its U.S. counterpart. I have yet to see the stateside Live Home Video VHS, but the segmented videos on YouTube and pictures from the tapes around the 'net look vastly better. Shochiku's transfer also seems to have an extremely boosted color cast in many sequences, the cavern shots are GREEN, compared to a completely neutral palette seen elsewhere (like the trailer below).

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