One of the greatest treasures in the world of cinema, well, b-movie cinema, is the crop of amazingly awful films that scrambled to capture the hype of Alien and Aliens. Some of these films are classics in the realm of “so bad it’s good” and The Rift is certainly no exception. Dino De Laurentiis had already created a b-movie ripoff of Alien, the 1989 George P. Cosmatos directed Leviathan. Not content with just one low budget gamble on this bizarre subgenre of wannabes, he gave money to his daughter Francesca De Laurentiis to produce yet another take on Alien with an even smaller budget. With cult horror director Juan Piquer Simón (Pieces, Slugs) in tow, the De Laurentiis family created an odd and fascinating entry that proudly sits on the shelf next to other more successful ripoffs such as Deepstar Six, Contamination, and the great Leviathan. The Rift isn’t a good film, but it’s pretty great in a garage assembled sort of way.
When the top-secret experimental submarine known as Siren 1 goes missing, the military recruits its designer, Wick Hayes (Jack Scalia, Dallas, Devil Connection) to accompany a rescue team aboard Siren 2 lead by Captain Phillips (R. Lee Ermey, Full Metal Jacket, Mississippi Burning), the scientist Robbins (Ray Wise, Twin Peaks, Robocop) and Wick’s wife Nina (Deborah Adair, MacGyver, Melrose Place). As the Siren 2 team makes their way to the mysterious rift that swallowed the first submarine, the group will find themselves traveling deeper than any other vessel has ever gone and will come face to face with indescribable evils that surely would make H.P. Lovecraft giddy with excitement and terror.
Originally released as Endless Descent, The Rift is b-movie schlock at its finest. Director JP Simon made a career on shooting quick, cheap, graphic horror films and The Rift delivers nothing more than what you would come to expect from his body of work. The dialogue is stilted and corny, the submarine and underwater effects are cheaper than a network television show from the 70s, but the gore is quite good. In fact, the film becomes needlessly graphic in its finale, which is a bit of a redeeming factor, although how can you not fall in love with giant ocean monsters attempting to swallow the Siren 2 whole? The plot bounces around a multitude of science fiction plot tropes, ranging from underwater mystery to alien aboard a ship to mega-monster catastrophe. I think at one point in the film you can actually see the producers kitchen sink as everything known to man is thrown in this film. Despite this barrage of plot beats, the film works. Sure, this isn’t The Abyss. No revelation in this film will cause ponder or instill the joy of wonder, but you will have a blast watching alien/sea creatures pop out of the rocks and rip off the legs of Siren 2’s crew.
Kino Lorber has done a terrific job of presenting this film in a brand new HD master. The film itself is presented at 1.67:1 with huge clarity. The deep blues, purples, and unearthly greens pop without displaying overt contrast. This is an excellent transfer. The accompanying audio is well mixed and places the looped dialogue front and center. Bonus features include trailers and interviews with Ray Wise, R. Lee Ermey, and Jack Scalia. If you enjoy Alien ripoff films of the b-movie variety, consider this a must own.