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John’s Horror Corner: The Rift (1990), the same deep sea Aliens rip-off sci-fi-horror you’ve seen before… with more mutant monsters.

August 18, 2016

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MY CALL:  A title like The Abyss (1989) for a movie that marries The Thing (1982), Leviathan (1989), Deep Star Six (1989) and Aliens (1986). MOVIES LIKE The RiftLeviathan (1989), Deep Star Six (1989), The Thing (1982), Harbinger Down (2015) and The Abyss (1989).

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Also released as Endless Descent, this movie isn’t trying to hide what it is at all.  Essentially, this flick is competing with Leviathan (1989) and Deep Star Six (1989) to be the Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987) of deep sea sci-horror submarine movies.

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Some special ops guys awaken Wick (Jack Scalia; Red Eye) in his flea bag apartment to recruit him to find “his” lost submarine: the Siren-1.  Of course, our hero is jacked, has a raspy voice and is recently divorced (like all late 80s, early 90s antiheroes).

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Director and writer Juan Piquer Simón (Pieces, Slugs) has made some cult favorites in horror. But his skills haven’t exactly advanced.  The writing/dialogue are atrocious, Wick looks like Sgt Riggs (Mel Gibson from Lethal Weapon), and it only takes five minutes of running time before Wick is on the rescue vessel the Siren-2.  Oh, and just because The Abyss (1989) did it, Wick’s ex-wife is on the mission and she’s senior in rank.

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Crewman Robbins (Ray Wise; Swamp Thing, Cat People, RoboCop, Twin Peaks) is Wick’s closest ally, Captain Phillips (R. Lee Ermey; The Terror Within II, Se7en, The Frighteners) is the hardass military leader helming this mission, and as if to forecast what was going to go wrong, one crewman is an expert in “biogenics” for no good reason at all.

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After circumventing deep sea icebergs (if that’s even a thing) at depths of about thirty thousand feet down an “abyss” they encounter the Siren-1’s distress signal in an area surrounded by plants which, evidently, can’t grow down there due to the complete lack of sunlight.  So they take a sample in the name of science.  I feel like “let’s just take a sample for science” is the academic version of investigating a weird noise outside or saying “let’s split it.”

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Turbulence is experienced as if aboard the Starship Enterprise complete with shaky cameras and the effects budget is incredibly low.  When their sub is attacked by a giant sea slug this is made readily apparent.  And why are they not making a bigger deal over the GIANT SEA SLUG!?!?!  They just go on with the mission…like that shit didn’t even happen?  They end up in a conveniently pressurized super deep sea subterranean cave system following the distress beacon of the Siren-1.  The atmosphere is toxic and there is evidence of past human occupation.

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Playing strongly off of Alien (1979), not only do both movies feature a Kane (Alien) character and an important escape pod scene, but like Aliens (1986) we also we see the crew’s vital stats on a monitor as they are attacked by insectoid monsters in a close quarters cave armed with flood lights and guns.  We watch a digital on-screen schematic of the cavern layout with heat signatures for creatures.

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Only now do we get any satisfying semblance of gore…and plenty of it as they attacked by some sort of giant worm, these fly-headed bug monsters, mutant piranha-eel fish and what seems like a mix between a Komodo dragon and a piranha!  There are tentacle assaults and gooey slimy mutant monster fetuses in an egg chamber overseen by a giant mutant starfish plant monster.  It’s senselessly random!  It’s cool and all, but for my money I’d favor Galaxy of Terror (1981) or Forbidden World (1982).

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Speaking of Forbidden World (1982), the innocuous plant sample taken on board has grown and infested the lab with crusty xenomorphic webby roots like the brood chamber in Aliens (1986).  It’s all gushy slimy and pulsating, and it spews infectious gobbledy gook that melds (or melts?) to flesh like The Thing (1982).

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What’s strange is that Leviathan (1989) and Deep Star Six (1989) came out not only the same year as The Abyss (1989), but they were released in January and March with The Abyss (1989) following in August.  How did that happen when they feel like rip-offs???  Well I guess all of them play off the Aliens (1986) playbook.

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And despite being such multi-film sci-horror rip-off, I thought this was every bit as entertaining as all of the other referenced Alien-rips—all of which I enjoy.  It heavily delivers on the cheap gore and creature effects, hits a good level of creature diversity, and has its share of cheeky yet unoriginal plot twists.  I recommend it to any B-movie fan.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. August 18, 2016 9:45 am

    I’ve not seen this but the Rift certainly sounds like its worth checking out. I always like films with a scifi underwater setting, like the Abyss, even naff one’s like Levithan and Deep Star Six are worth a look for fun. Great review The Rift, might have to check it out.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      August 18, 2016 10:10 am

      If you like Deep Star six or Leviathan, then this is a must-see. Lower acting quality, higher zaniness on the cheese-o-meter.

      • August 18, 2016 12:56 pm

        Yes I did, Deep Star Six and Leviathan are good, so The Rift certainly appeals to me. Like the zany concept of The Rift, will have to see this now 🙂

    • John Leavengood permalink
      August 18, 2016 1:10 pm

      I couldn’t believe I had never heard of it. I just stumbled across it browsing through free streaming horror movies on Amazon Prime.

  2. August 18, 2016 12:00 pm

    Sounds like something I’d like! Which was the one with Jamie Lee Curtis on the boat, that was a good cheesy sci-fi on the Ocean flick too.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      August 18, 2016 12:12 pm

      VIRUS! Haven’t seen that one in way too long.

      • August 18, 2016 12:16 pm

        Oh yeah Virus…I’m going to get a bunch of these together and watch a marathon 🙂

    • John Leavengood permalink
      August 18, 2016 12:18 pm

      Yeah, they’re pretty fun.

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  1. John’s Horror Corner INDEX: a list of all my horror reviews by movie release date | Movies, Films & Flix

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