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The Rift - Blu-ray Review

2 beersIt is essentially a cheaper version of Ridley Scott’s Alien, but underwater.  That’s the best description of The Rift (aka Endless Descent).  This knock-off is only one of the several underwater exploitative films that were rushed out from almost every studio – no matter the size – as they tried to beat James Cameron’s The Abyss to its water-soaked punch.  The flood (pun intended) of these pictures definitely stole Cameron’s thunder, impacting his film's financial gains. 

From Deepstar Six to Leviathan, the flurry of water-set monster pictures released in 1989 were merely in anticipation of a science fiction film that was not at all about monsters in the water.  Unfortunately, the damage was done and The Abyss, while critically well-received, was a financial disappointment for 20th Century Fox.  And, yes, we can blame movies like The Rift for The Abyss’ under-performance at the box office.

People were tired of what Cameron’s trailers appeared to hint at.  It was assumed the mystery would be a monster … like in Lords of the Deep and The Evil Below, also released that year.  In director Juan Piquer Simón’s The Rift – starring Ray Wise (Twin Peaks) and R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket) - submarine designer Wick Hayes (Jack Scalia of Dallas fame) is blamed for a faulty design when one of his submarines goes down – way down below the sea– and unresponsive.  It couldn’t possibly be the results of genetic tampering… 

The hothead pushes back and blames Contek, the corporation who made a bunch of ill-advised modifications to the sub.  Placed aboard another Contek-supervised submarine, Hayes joins forces with its ragtag crew (now including his ex-wife) to discover the truth behind the fate of the downed submarine.  And it all involves mutants and monsters and electrified seaweed … and a hell of a lot of glue.

There are maybe two or three different sets utilized by the movie.  They appear flimsy and the glue marks on the walls are especially rich.  We have only a couple of out of the water sequences with which to find our footing.  And those first steps are problematic at best.  The film’s financial limitations are obvious.  And the practical effects – lots of models and monsters – get pretty hokey along the way.  All of this is to be expected in a point-and-shoot flick. 

The Rift’s saving grace is the healthy use of gore in the mutant attacks toward the end of the movie because the script – which completely falls apart – doesn’t float that well to begin with.   It’s logically challenged, full of clichés, and leaves no impression upon its audience.  It’s all a bit awkward but not enough to actually tickle the funny bone.  For a talent like Ray Wise, this film is more of a humorous embarrassment.      

Considering all that is wrong with the movie, Simón (who also directed the cult favorites Pieces and Slugs) somehow makes The Rift his career pinnaccle.  He’s a hack director, for sure.  Yet, he’s present enough throughout this sunken adventure to make it feel complete.  That’s not saying much, I know.  Just munch on the buttery popcorn and enjoy The Rift for what it is: the cheapest entertainment possible.


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The Rift (1990) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
82 mins
: Juan Piquer Simón
David Coleman
Jack Scalia, R. Lee Ermey, Ray Wise
: Action | Sci-fi
You Can't Hold your Breath & Scream at the Same Time
Memorable Movie Quote: "I think it's coming from inside."
Theatrical Distributor:
Trimark Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
October 5, 1990
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 20, 2016
Synopsis: 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.


[tab title="Blu-ray Review"]

The Rift - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - September 20, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English, Spanish
 English: LPCM Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Region A

It could be argued that the 1080P transfer from Kino-Lorber is far superior to the film itself. Perhaps some would say much better than the film deserves. This is dual-layered with a max'ed bitrate and is easily as good as the film has ever looked on digital. There is a tightness and depth - skin tones and colors look balanced. The only issue is that the high resolution further identifies the modest effects. Contrast is layered with no noise or damage and overall the video is quite solid. The linear DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel does a competent job of exporting the film's verbose effects of 'creature' and 'native' sounds without being too weak.



  • None.

Special Features:

There is literally nothing new here.  On camera interviews with Ray Wise, Jack Scalia and R. Lee Ermey are ported over from the DVD release.  While there is now reversible artwork, there’s little added to this one to recommend a purchase.

  • Ray Wise Interview
  • Jack Scalia Interview
  • R. Lee Ermey Interview
  • Trailer


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The Rift - Blu-ray Review