"When you are talking about saving human beings, there is no
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 05/17/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I knew I was in trouble the moment the credits started scrolling down the screen and the name Rene Cardona Jr. came up as both the writer and director of the film Cyclone (1978) aka Terror Storm. In case you aren't familiar with the man, he's the prolific (prolific and good aren't necessarily synonymous here) Mexican producer/director/writer behind such features as Survive! (1976), the Jaws rip-off Tintorera (1977), Guyana: Crime of the Century (1979), and Beaks: The Movie (1987) to name a few...appearing in the film are Cardona regulars Andres Garcia (Tintorera, The Bermuda Triangle) and Hugo Stiglitz (Survive!, Tintorera), along with Carroll Baker (Giant, How the West Was Won), Arthur Kennedy (Lawrence of Arabia, Fantastic Voyage), Olga Karlatos (Zombi 2), and Lionel Stander who's probably best know for his reoccurring role as Max on the popular television series "Hart to Hart".
As the movie begins we see a bunch of slack-jawed tourist type schmucks on glass bottom boat tour in the Caribbean. Soon after we're on a populated island as the local authorities get word that a cyclone is approaching, and the order is issued to batten down the hatches. Now we're on a mid-sized aircraft and one of the passengers relates how he wants to be an oceanographer...I think he's about to get a crash course, if you know what I mean. Soon enough the weather begins to sour and three main events occur...a fishing boat sinks (a handful of fishermen make it onto a lifeboat), the plane crash lands into the ocean (this is illustrated by someone spraying the passengers in the plane with a fire hose), and the glass bottom boat becomes stranded in open water. Eventually the fishermen in the lifeboat come across the surviving passengers from the aircraft and that group soon hooks up with the schmucks on the glass bottom boat. Now comes the psuedo drama as the now good sized group struggles to survive given how little food or water is available (a foo foo dog is sacrificed early on in an effort to fend off starvation). As some of the critically injured begin checking out, the survivors decide to use bits and pieces of their corpses as bait to catch some fish. They're partially successful, but given the large amount of people on the small boat (something like fifteen to twenty), there's only one real viable alternative if they're not rescued soon...cannibalism! As the idea is brought up, so begins a series of overly long, heated debates between the wide range of remaining survivors on the boat, including a priest, a medical doctor, the fishermen, an idiot businessman, and so on...eventually they partake in the unspeakable (oh Mannelo, we hardly knew ye, but we appreciate your tastiness), but more life threatening hardships follow, some of them sporting large dorsal fins and row upon row of serrated cutting teeth...
What's interesting with this film is Cardona, who had a penchant for purloining his ideas from more popular American features, actually recycled the idea here from one of his previous features, a film titled Supervivientes de los Andes (1976) aka Saved!, which was based on the 1972 true life events of a Uruguayan rugby team involved in a plane crash in the Andes Mountains, the survivors forced to subsist upon the flesh of the fallen until they were rescued (many probably remember the more popular film Alive, released in 1993, which was also based on the same events). The only real difference here was instead of a mountainside we're in the ocean. Was the movie any good? My response is mixed...while this was a hell of a lot better than Tintorera, his Jaws homage (i.e. rip-off), it was still an ordeal to sit through...I say this because Cardona seemed to like to utilize as much of the shot footage as possible, making his movies extremely lengthy (this one is just shy of two hours). Seriously, if you were to strip away all the unnecessary padding from this film, you'd probably end up with about half hour of running time. I've also noticed another commonality in Cardona's films, that being a lack of continuity, the most noticeable being the plane switching from a propeller type while in the air to a jet engine type while sitting in the ocean. The performances, which tended to range from overly dramatic to barely there, were slightly better than what you might expect from a Mexican disaster film, but that doesn't mean they were awesoma. Some of them were downright dreadful, but at least there were enough characters running around as so we didn't have to spend an inordinate amount of time with any one person. As far as the dialog, here is a typical bit, as the authorities ponder the possibility of survivors of the plane crash as time wears on...
"If they did fall into the sea, hope to God they're all dead because survival in the sea without food or water is a fate worse than death."
Not quite the attitude I'd want for my would be rescuers...the story drags unmercifully at some points, and the temptation to press the fast forward on my DVD remote was great, but I held out only because when it comes to movies, I dislike taking short cuts no matter how warranted they may be...if I start it, dagnabit, I'm going to finish it...in true Cardona form, Cyclone features a fairly realistic sequence of something getting gutted, in this case a foo foo dog. It was difficult to watch, but at least it tied in with the plot in terms of the people needing food to survive (in Tintorera a hapless sea turtle was butchered for no apparent reason other than to show some blood). There are a decent number of sequences with people getting attacked by sharks (most near the end), but these usually involve someone screaming on the surface, and then a cut to a shark underwater swimming away with some indeterminate bloody entrails in its maw. The one aspect that annoyed me the most was the pointless, drawn out debating and moral pontificating among the survivors with regards to water (who should get what and so on) and food (should we eat the dead and so on). The funniest bit for me came as the doctor is tasked with hacking up one of the dead for food. One moment we see the doctor and corpse on the roof of the boat, and then the next we see bits of meat strewn all over the roof, set out to dry in the sun. Shortly afterwards the survivors begin heading towards the roof, partaking in sort of a smorgasbord of human flesh. Okay, you know what? They had only been stranded for like four or five days, and already they're resorting to eating the dead...it would take me a few weeks at least before I was desperate enough to do something like that. Another really funny part comes during a rainstorm. At this point the fresh water had run out, and people were plenty thirsty. As they begin collecting and sopping up the blessed water with whatever was handy, we see one grungy sailor holding up a dirty, toe-jam ladened sneaker in an effort to catch some rain...uh, okay dude, whatever you collect in that sneaker is yours and yours alone to drink.
Synapse Films provides a solid DVD release here, presenting the 118 minute English language international version. The picture, in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1), looks clean and has only a few, minor flaws, and the Dolby Digital mono audio comes through well. Extras include liner notes by David Hayes, an alternate opening credits sequence (the title here being Terror Storm), and trailers for other Synapse releases like Tintorera (1977), Danger Girls (1967), The Deadly Spawn (1983), Thriller: They Call Her One Eye (1974), Bizarre (1970), Olga's Girls (1964), and God Has A Rap Sheet (2003). By the way, there's a separate DVD release out there for this film from VCI, so buyer beware...
Robert A. Olds | cleve. oh. | 09/22/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"EVEN THOUGH IT IS A FOREIGAN MADE MOVIE,IT WAS WELL PRODUCE AND WELL WRITTEN.THE STORY WAS NOT HARD TO FOLLOW."