Friday, October 30, 2020

Mack Bolan, The Executioner #276: LEVIATHAN (2001)

When ER cover artist Neil Vokes and I started kicking around cover concepts for issue 53 we tried zeroing in on something that would tie together the issue's dual themes of Bolan and anthology flicks. From the initial phrase “Bolan vs monsters mashup” we ended up going a Lovecraftian route (“tentacles and gooey creepy stuff”) because it seemed like a great way to link the two and, in my own fateful words, “No, [Bolan’s] never done anything like that…” 

Fast forward a few moths and it comes to my attention that, well, I’m not quite right. In fact, The Executioner battled cult beasties from the dark depths in LEVIATHAN (2001), not to be confused with the Peter Weller film of the same name (itself part of the brief underwater horror craze of the late 1980s). 

After a search at the nearby Bolan-laden thrift store proved fruitless I hit Amazon, paid a whopping penny and waited for the 267th installment of the series to hit my mailbox. 

Set on an abandoned oil platform turned nation state pledged to make high-quality drugs, LEVIATHAN spins a Lovecraftian-inspired action yarn as Bolan, feisty special agent Mallory Harmon and Miskatonic University’s twitchy nano-technology expert Donovan (Don’t Call Me Herbert) West must infiltrate the CIA-funded nation/ghost platform in the seas off Bermuda to cut off the drug operations and get to the bottom of the recent attacks from the ocean’s dark, briny depths. 

Toss in a nebulous CIA revenge plot against Bolan and a bevy of Bermuda-based cult members and you’d think LEVIATHAN would add up to one of those off-beat Executioners (a la PRISON CODE and NIGHT KILL) that I love. Eh, not so much. In fact, Gerald Montgomery’s sluggish outing is probably the first Executioner adventure I’ve read that I’d recommend to completists and the curious only. 

LEVIATHAN’s problems are legion: the revenge plotline never gels; Bolan’s half-assed plan quickly falls apart and he’s easily bested by the rogue Company man running security (a guy in a Hawaiian shirt and Birkenstocks no less!); the 220-pager is padded with a pointless appearance from Bolan’s PI brother; and, Montgomery spends far too much time describing everything in exhausting detail from the various levels of the oil platform (which eventually gets needlessly confusing) to the van transporting Harmon and West to Stony Man. 

On the plus side, Harmon’s escape from the clutches of a clan of inbred Southerners is right out of a low-budget, straight-to-video serial killer movie and the author name-checks classics like THE HOWLING and JAWS. Unfortunately, all the references and pantie-clad shootouts did was make me wish I was watching (or reading) something of their ilk. Hell, I’d have settled for a re-watch of the mini-series based on Peter Benchley’s THE BEAST (also referenced) starring a pre-CSI William Petersen as “Whip Dalton” (one of my all-time favorite character names). 

What should have been a breezy read for the Halloween season turned into a dull chore. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor/publisher of Exploitation Retrospect and he wishes everybody a happy, spooky and healthy Halloween! A version of this review first appeared in our super-sized anniversary issue still available at Amazon and direct from the publisher.

The Executioner #276: LEVIATHAN is available from Amazon.

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