The Bermuda Triangle

Your parents are DEAD, Billy!
★★
☆☆☆☆
Released: 
1978
Director: 
Rene Cardona Jr.
Starring: 
Andres Garcia, Hugo Stiglitz, Gloria Guida, John Huston
The Setup: 
Group go out on a boat into the Bermuda Triangle, mysterious shit happens.
Discussion: 

So I found this movie Cyclone, which is supposed to be about a plane that crashes in the ocean, and then the survivors spend the rest of the time fighting off bloodthirsty sharks. Sounds like a cinematic classic, right? I mean, how can you go wrong with that? PLUS, it’s directed by Rene Cardona, Jr., director of Tintorera!, so there’s a very good chance that many of the people in it might be buff attractive men in Speedos. So I see that it’s available on a DVD with this other Cardona movie, The Bermuda Triangle. And the more I read, everyone says that Cyclone fucking SUCKS and is BORING, but Bermuda Triangle is pretty good! So I watched that one first. Aren’t you glad you read all this? I’m sure it really contributed a lot to your day.

So we begin with footage [I’m guessing from an earlier film] of a 19th century sailing ship in a storm. There is a little blonde girl in a pink dress aboard, and she seems to be alone. She turns and scowls at the camera, then—present day! We’re aboard the Black Whale III, this modern large pleasure craft. The people aboard are all headed into the Bermuda triangle to search for some underwater ruins they believe may be the lost city of Atlantis. We totally just need to shoehorn bigfoot in here somehow. This obnoxious blonde little girl, Diane, sees something floating in the water 100 yards away. They divert the boat to pick it up, and it turns out to be this eerily lifelike doll—a blonde girl in a pink dress. Her dad, played by John Huston [yes, THAT John Huston, the director] tells her once it dries off she can keep it.

Anyway, then we suddenly cut to some documentary-style footage of this squadron of jets, complete with voice-over narration. The hunky leader of the squadron with the mustache says he’s suddenly disoriented. The command tower tells him to turn West, and he asks “How the hell can we tell which way is West?” to which you want to respond: “Well, do you see that giant glowing orb in the sky?” They then claim to be unable to see the water—it’s a little problematic as the film is showing US the water—and then they vanish! What did this have to do with the rest of our story? I leave that for you to decipher.

So soon after we return to the boat, Diane says of the doll “I-ee found her so she-ee’s mine!” Diane wants a cookie—but her dolly wants raw meat! We see that the navigator is played by the hunk from Tintorera!, and the captain is his buddy from that movie. Diane’s brother is Billy, and they both speak in these somewhat bizarre voices—halfway through I realized that is because their voices are dubbed by adult actors trying to sound like kids.

Also present are Peter and Sybil. He’s a drunk, and she bickers and makes bitchy comments about it. He’s a broken man since he lost a patient on the operating table, which helpful Sybil tries to help him get over by saying “Okay—you killed her. Everyone knows that you killed her.” By now we’ve also noticed that the entire ship is decorated with framed engravings of ships getting attacked by sea monsters, perfect for lingering on at the beginning and end of shots.

So around 18:41 we have a marvelous cut from a pleasant conversation, accompanied by lighthearted calypso music—to a vicious bird attack! All these exotic birds have apparently flown miles from the nearest last just to attack little Diane and her demonic doll. But who’s attacking whom—as the birds are found dead, with their throats ripped out! And the little doll has blood on it’s mouth! This shit is freaking me out!

So that night they enter this mysterious fogbank, and all the power on the ship dies. The navigator goes out to check, when suddenly the mustache guy from the plane that couldn’t tell which way West was flies up out of the water—in innovative footage of him jumping IN the water, run backwards. Then the film forgets the whole thing, and in the next shot the power has been mysteriously restored.

So a bunch of stuff happens. Little Diane has turned into a real asocial little brat, always piping off about how her dolly tells her the way everyone going to die—amusing in this adult-trying-to-sound-young voice. Then she locks the cook in the freezer. Then, after more marital bitchiness between Peter and Sybil [joined by her sister], everyone goes diving to find Atlantis. First they spear two sharks. It’s a good idea to clear the area of sharks before diving, and it’s no problem that they then go swimming around trailing clouds of blood behind them. It’s obvious that the director just wanted to shoot some sharks—and we’re talking real sharks getting speared to death here—to goose up the excitement of his movie. The people find some underwater columns—could THIS be the lost city of Atlantis?—and then the columns collapse and trap the pretty blonde under them. Etc., she’s rescued, but Pete, the drunk doctor, says he can’t save her legs, leading the imperious captain to say “Doctor! I feel sorry for you. You’re a coward.”

Now comes some dialogue that amused me. The first is this exchange, as the ship was drifting toward some rocks inexplicably in the middle of the ocean, and avoided them: “We’re moving away from the rocks, Mark!” Mark responds: “We’re drifting!” and the first guy bitchily replies: “Well, at least not toward the rocks.” Then there’s a sudden hurricane [those things just spring up like THAT!], and evil demon child wanders out on deck, causing her parents to go after her and get washed overboard. At one point you get a close up of the doll, and it is obviously a real little girl wearing makeup. Then another favorite piece of dialogue, when overlooking a corpse of a guy who fell on a bottle and cut his neck: “Poor Simon. He slipped on a bottle and cut his neck.” I mean, do YOU announce the cause of death while lamenting a lost loved one’s passing? “Poor Aunt Matilda. Her pills stuck in her throat and she stumbled to the living room, then collapsed! And her body wasn’t found until a week later, after her fingers had been eaten off by her cats!” I know, it’s exposition, and otherwise we’d have no way of knowing how poor Simon died, but come on guys, do it BETTER.

So after some guy gets sucked into the propeller [quick and brutal—and actually inadvertently effective], the huge and hunky mechanic says he wants to throw the little girl’s doll overboard, but the captain won’t hear of it—which is dumb, I mean, even if he doesn’t believe it, what’s the harm in tossing the thing overboard?

Then they start hearing all these distress calls, some from planes and boats missing for decades—and then they hear their own distress call. It’s inadvertently creepy, and someone should steal it for a better movie. Then more classic dialogue, to a tender young boy: “Your parents are dead, Billy! And nobody is coming to our aid!” That’s it, the harsh truth is always best. Anyway, then we suddenly cut to these guys in an office, one of them saying he wants to send rescue boats after the Black Whale III, and this other guy saying they disappeared… 12 YEARS AGO! The end.

That’s it, the story just goes on to a certain point, then ENDS. Just up and stops. No conclusion, no nothing.

So—worthwhile? Not really. I mean, I was vaguely amused from beginning to—well, til about halfway, at which point I started fast-forwarding, but it’s so low key and generally awful—yet somehow intriguing—that I can totally see making it to the end. There’s something amusing about the way the people just blurt out their lines, which in no way match their lip movements, and it’s even worse for the kids. Then there’s the whole vague mysteries with the evil doll and ominous stuff happening every now and then… it’s enough to keep your attention, but that is really about all I can say for it.

Should you watch it: 

There really is no reason in the world to.