Undersea horrors were pretty popular in the late 1980s with movies such as THE ABYSS, DEEPSTAR SIX, LORDS OF THE DEEP and LEVIATHAN all from 1989 ironically enough. This apparently inspired director Juan Piquer Simon (PIECES, SLUGS, WHERE TIME BEGAN) to direct his own undersea horror film entitled THE RIFT. This movie does take bits and ‘pieces’ (pun intended) of those other undersea films. In fact, Dino De Laurentiis, who produced LEVIATHON, went on to finance this film as well.
Also known as ENDLESS DESCENT, THE RIFT is your basic story about an expedition searching for a lost submarine called Siren I. A small crew goes undersea via Siren II, to find that lost submarine. Wick Hayes (Jack Scalia, 1996’s THE SILENCERS, DALLAS) creator of Siren I, leads the expedition under the command of Captain Phillips (R Lee Ermey, BODY SNATCHERS, FULL METAL JACKET) with a crew that includes Robbins (Ray Wise, ROBOCOP, CAT PEOPLE, TWIN PEAKS), Lt. Nina Crowley (Deborah Adair, FINDER OF LOST LOVES TV series) and a few others which are basically victims for the horrors that wait deep below the sea. The crew encounters many man-eating creatures and other hideous beasts while searching for the missing submarine. It is later discovered that the company that the expedition is working for are doing genetic engineering which has created the creatures. Yes, another one of those secret experiments with humans that turns them into monsters. One by one, members of the expedition either get killed by or mutate into the fierce creatures.
THE RIFT is no classic by any sense of the imagination, with average effects, lack of any real character development – which is amazing considering the cast – but JP Simon isn’t the greatest director when it comes to having characters that you either love or hate. It’s directed with indifference as if he only made the film to cash in on the undersea action thriller craze. Despite all of the shortcomings, the film has some good action, gore and the creatures are decent. THE RIFT is actually one of this reviewer’s guilty pleasures and actually pushed hard for this movie to receive its first official release in disc format.
Kino Lorber, with the recommendation of Walt Olsen of Scorpion Releasing has given THE RIFT its debut on Blu-ray. After all of these years where it was only available via VHS or the black market route where the image was simply unwatchable, THE RIFT can now be enjoyed in glorious high definition. You can throw away your VHS tapes and crummy bootlegs. With it’s all new HD master in 1080p in its original aspect ratio of 1:85:1, THE RIFT is absolutely stunning with sharp detail, vivid colors, and it loks fantastic overall. You can now see the monsters and gore one hundred times more clearly than that old VHS release. The audio quality is excellent as well. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 audio track has the dialog, screams and monster roars all coming in perfectly clear (there are no subtitles however).
Extras for THE RIFT, which were produced by Scorpion Releasing, include three separate Interviews with Ray Wise (24:12), Jack Scalia (31:05) and R. Lee Ermey (7:26). Both Wise and Scalia had lengthy stories about how they wound up in the film, the production, the working conditions, the cast, working with a Spanish crew, and the monsters, while Ermey more or less said very little about the film, not remembering much other than the impression that he didn’t like the movie and wanted to wash his hands of it. Rounding out the extras are trailers for THE RIFT (under the ENDLESS DESCENT title), THE PASSENGER and KILLER FORCE.
This is such a great release that it’s a shame that the movie isn’t up to par with other films with similar themes; however THE RIFT does have the JP Simon touch which will certainly please his fans. Those looking for a decent B movie with some good gore effects should not be disappointed. The picture quality, audio quality and extras make this release a winner. Let’s hope that other horror and science fiction titles that have only been available on VHS or the black market get official releases so that they can be enjoyed that much more in high definition. (David Steigman)
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