The Rift (a.k.a. Endless Descent) (1989) Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review
The movie is fun despite its flaws and the HD transfer is excellent with some decent special features.
Plot: An experimental submarine, the “Siren II”, is sent to find out what happened to the “Siren I”, which has mysteriously disappeared in a submarine rift. Things go awry when they begin to find things that shouldn’t be there.
Review: Choose your boat! On the big, wide cinematic ocean of 1989, you’ve got James Cameron’s The Abyss, and on the slightly lower scale, you’ve got MGM’s Leviathan. Go a little deeper into the sinkhole and you’ll find two much lower budgeted water monster movies: Sean Cunningham’s underrated Deepstar Six, and the pure exploitation flick The Rift, or sometimes known as Endless Descent. All four movies share the deep, dark ocean as their unforgiving, unexplored frontier setting, and all four movies have their version of the alien-type monster that the characters encounter at some point.
In The Rift, an experimental submarine with a science crew goes missing somewhere in “The Rift” in Scandinavian waters, and a new crew in Norway is put together to go find the previous crew. A rogue architect of a brand new submarine is called in to assist the new crew, but the architect – Wick Hayes (“B” star Jack Scalia) – isn’t too interested until he finds out his soon-to-be-ex-wife is also on board the watercraft. Suited up and under the leadership of Captain Phillips (R. Lee Ermey), the crew goes deep and dark into the big drink until they come upon a weird, sinister-looking fungus growing like seaweed near The Rift, and curious, they bring it aboard. BIG MISTAKE. The fungus plant assimilates organic matter (into gloppy pod people) and suspicion arises as to who’s actually the alien organism amongst them, which causes unrest and violence in the sub. When that matter is resolved, the crew somehow manages to find itself in a hollow world-type cave where the previous submarine crew had settled and began performing experiments on the new species found only in this part of the ocean. The old crew is found dead, but their computers still work and their experiments are all out in the open, leading the new crew to believe that they were killed by some of the monsters they may have helped to create. The following scene is very similar to the one in Alien where the Nostromo docks on the Alien planet and finds all the pods, only this time the crew has to fight off a gigantic pod monster with fire extinguishers and bazookas, leading to some goopy special effects, which is essential to these kinds of movies. Realizing that the only way any of them are going to make it back home alive is to cut their losses and get the heck out of this strange hell, the crew scrambles to survive the next few hours as the monsters overpower and assimilate them one by one.
Easy to watch and ultra simplistic, The Rift (at only 83 minutes) would only have been better if it had gone the sleazy route, but as it is, it’s a fairly humorless exploitation riff of a sub-genre that virtually began and ended in 1989, thanks to James Cameron. The Rift is the least interesting film out of the four water monster films of that year, but even with that low standard it’s mildly entertaining. The director was J.P. Simon (Juan Piquer Simon), who didn’t speak English, so the film has an awkward clunkiness to the writing, but it’s all part of the film’s charm.
Kino Lorber and Scorpion Releasing have just released a brand new Blu-ray of The Rift, and it’s the first time the movie has ever been on DVD or Blu-ray. The film’s HD transfer is excellent, and the special features include new interviews with the cast, and reversible artwork. It’s worth adding to your collection if you’re a collector of cult films or even if you’re just curious. I might watch it again some day.