The Rift (1990)

Look, the pun is there, but between 1989 and 1990 there really was something in the water, as studios churned out The Abyss, Leviathan, The Evil Below, Lords of the Deep and DeepStar Six all in the span of several months and exploitation directors took notice, particularly Juan Piquer Simón, the man who gifted us with PiecesSlugsSupersonic Man and Cthulhu Mansion.

Released in the U.S. by Trimark and silently executive produced by Dino De Laurentiis — who shh, also produced Leviathan — this may have been the best budget that Simón would ever enjoy. That’s how he got a cast like Jack Scalia, R. Lee Ermey and Ray Wise. I mean, let’s think on that a bit. R,. Lee Ermey went from Francis Ford Coppola in Apcalpyse Now and Kubrick in Full Metal Jacket to the guy who made Pieces. Man, I love movies.

Written by Simón, Mark Coleman (who never did anything else), David Coleman (who directed Southern Shockers and wrote Cthulhu Mansion) and an uncredited British writer Colin Wilson, who wrote the novel Space Vampires that Lifeforce is based on, The Rift is all about Wick Hayes (Scalia), the engineer of the Siren I, a ship that is lost deep in the ocean and must be retrieved by a team that includes Captain Phillips (Ermey), navigation officer Robbins (Wise), a bunch of people doomed to die and, you guessed it, Wick’s ex-girlfriend Nina (Deborah Adair). Also, if you’re wondering, yes Edmund Purdom is in this.

Like The Abyss, there are aliens on the bottom of the ocean. Unlike that movie, this is made the old fashioned way with miniatures and stop motion and you know, I love that. There’s no fancy getting in a gigantic tank and CGI here. Colin Arthur, who did the special makeup effects, has a crazy resume, working on everything from 2001 to On Her Majesty’s Secret ServiceToomorrowThe Abominable Dr. PhibesHorror HospitalZardozKeep It Up Jack, Vampyres, Barry LyndonSinbad and the Eye of the TigerThe AppleChristiane F.Conan the BarbarianThe Fan and Edge of the Axe. That’s seriously the most all over the place career and I love it.

Other effects are by Basilio Cortijo, who worked with Simón on all of his big films, plus Carlo De Marchis who did effects on Yellow Hair and the Fortress of GoldAlienMonster DogHundraDeep Red and A Lizard In a Woman’s Skin. María Luisa Pino, an effects assistant, was the wife of Arthur at the time and beyond working on several films in the effects field, she also was an editor on The Golden Voyage of SinbadThe House By the Edge of the LakeJaguar Lives!The AppleSolarbabies,  Edge of the Axe and Rest In Pieces.

Did the Spanish exploitation film industry get work or what?

Also: If you can’t get Jerry Goldsmith, who did the score for Leviathan, get his son Joel, who did the scores for LaserblastOlivia and Hollywood Hot Tubs.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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