I love me some Juan Piquer Simón and I’ve written about that love here on Bloody Disgusting a couple of times now. His 1982 gem, Pieces, is one of my all-time favorite slashers and part of what I like to call the Holy Trinity of Sleazy 80’s Slasher Trash. In 1988 Simón gave us Slugs — a gory little creature feature that shows a lot more polish than Pieces. I view both those films as true classics of the 80’s and if you haven’t seen them I’d recommend you do so. Simón released his follow up to Slugs in 1990 with a little film called The Rift, AKA Endless Descent. The Rift doesn’t reach the same heights as Pieces and Slugs but it’s still great fun that is absolutely deserving of your time.
An experienced crew is hired to take a new submarine known as the “Siren II” out on an exploration to find the lost “Siren I.” The crew manages to locate “Siren I” stuck in a deep ocean rift — it’s the other, unexpected things they find that cause a problem. The crew discovers that the company that hired them have been engaged in some shady genetic engineering experiments that have created an underwater world of hideous mutants. What started out as a rescue mission turns into a fight for survival by our rescuers.
The Rift is basically a really poor man’s version of The Abyss, the hobo-Abyss if you will. It feels quite cheap and somewhat poorly made at times, which is interesting since Simón made it directly after Slugs. If you start at Pieces and work your way to Slugs you can see some progression with Simón. He appeared to have gotten better over the years as Slugs shows a lot more skill than Pieces. The Rift is a bit of a step back. This could be a budgetary issue of course, and The Rift is a lot more ambitious than both Slugs and Pieces, but whatever the case the film certainly feels a bit clunky. It’s also worth noting that Simón didn’t really speak much English and he was working with an English-speaking cast so there wasn’t great communication on the set, another obvious factor in the film’s overall quality.
Clunkiness aside, The Rift manages to be thoroughly enjoyable. There is some pretty gnarly gore including a head explosion and I’m always up head explosions. The creatures looking pretty good, all things considered, especially this giant starfish-like thing (pictured above). The Rift sort of has that Corman-produced B-movie vibe. So if you’re into that kind of thing as I am, then you’ll likely get a kick out of this. If you can’t get past the cheapness though, well then don’t bother because you will not be amused.
The cast is made up of entertaining characters. Jack Scalia is the leading man and he’s quite charming and dashing. I’d follow him into the underwater depths of Hell and back. Captaining the whole enterprise is R. Lee Ermey and he’s just as angry as ever, constantly shouting at everyone and anyone in sight. Ray Wise is also aboard “Siren II” as a supporting character and Edmund Purdom of Pieces make an appearance. It’s a good crew.
The Kino Lorber Blu-ray looks terrific. It appears as if they were working with a brand-new HD transfer and it shows. Prior to this release, I believe The Rift was only available on VHS so this is a major step up. Despite the overall cheap aesthetic to the film, there is a fair amount of detail to be had and Kino Lorber does a very nice job bringing that all to life with crisp clarity.
Kino Lorber doesn’t typically have a ton of special features, but The Rift actually contains three, fairly lengthy interviews with Scalia, Wise and Ermey, which is a bit of a nice surprise. All three interviews are worth a listen but the Scalia one is my favorite. Scalia talks about how he was offered the role after meeting with Dino DeLaurentiis, the film’s producer. DeLaurentiis told Scalia that Simón insisted his character smoke throughout the film. Scalia didn’t want to do it because he had given up smoking a number of years prior but eventually gave in and a result picked up smoking again in real life. I find this story to be hilarious, but also kind of sad. At any rate, it’s a fascinating tidbit to come from a fairly obscure B-movie.
I’m all about The Rift. It has its problems and it’s not quite as good as Juan Piquer Simón’s previous classics, but it’s still an enjoyable ride. The Blu-ray is fantastic and fits in line with the type of films Kino Lorber seems to rescue from the darkest depths. I fully recommend picking this one up.
The Rift is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.