This movie originally broadcast as a part of ABC’s Movie of the Week, a concept they set in motion on September 23, 1969 averaging 75-minutes for each movie and a commercial break 17 to 20-minutes thereby setting-up the cliffhanger (fade to back) all designed to fit a 90-minute cycle of film, which started to incorporate once named stars into their productions, one of those memorable films, Satan’s Triangle which incorporates both occult themes and unknown mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle. The unique movie had the talented cinematographer Sutton Roley (Chosen Survivors ) in the director’s chair and used a script from noted photographer turned screenwriter William Read Woodfield (The Hypnotic Eye ), a movie perhaps when it first aired as thrill, but nowadays a yawn and lacking major interest from modern audiences. One only needs to recall that when this air, screens were small, knobs on the box and limited entertainment, therefore let’s enter the portal to another time.
The particular move, gone to become a cult film, thanks mainly to the cast and the crew of the production, who made an effective thriller with both a reference to horror films and elements in those occult movies, such as Ghost Ship (1955) and The Exorcist (1973). In the 1970s, the Bermuda triangle brought an air of worry from many individuals, namely Leonard Nimoy often had TV-specials about the numerous stories concerning it, in ranked of another place to exploit with tales of horror, similar to those of Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, UFOs, and countless paranormal incidents. All of it used to prey upon the fears of the average American television audience, so many led the innocent life, coming from an era of basic, limited sources of information, simply innocence not yet corrupt.
It all starts with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) receiving a distress call, (the film uses actual helicopters of the USCG) sirens blare loudly and 3-man crews run toward their assigned places, except for our heroes a two man team, headed by religious Lieutenant Commander Pagnolini and brash womanizer rescuer Lt. J. Haig, (Michael Conrad and Doug McClure, respectively). The two choppers head into the triangle, suddenly one of the rescuers experiences all sorts of magnetic instrument failure and turns back, while our heroes continue onward. On their flight, they discuss the Devil’s Triangle, where ships, planes, and people all vanishing without a trace, this all serves to introduce the location to the audience, remember there’s no internet or smartphones. They arrive at the vessel, and badly beaten sail boat destroyed by high seas and swirling winds. Haig descends to the ship while Pagnolini circles the above, Haig searches the deck discovering a priest hanging upside from the high mast, another draped over the wheel of the ship (reminiscent of the infamous scene in Nosferatu ); more horrors down below, before finding one terrified looking survivor Eva (Kim Novak (Vertigo ). Fates conspire to prevent Haig and Eva to return to his chopper and with problems arising he must spend the night aboard the ship of death. The main story starts here, with Eva retelling what occured, Stickland (Ed Launter (Cujo ) owned the power-sailboat, named Requite (aka Revenge) hired by a wealthy big game hunter fisherman Hal (Jim Davis), who sought to outdo his brother, and crew welcomed aboard a priest (Alejandro Rey (TerrorVision ) on board who they found on floating debris. Then a series of freakish lightning storms occur causing turmoil and the strange deaths. Haigh leads Eva around the ship explaining away all the deaths with rationale, as if doing his version playing Clue. However, in the end all is not what seems, and demonic occurrence soon begin to reign once more.
Roley used his skills and talents to create a fine spooky tale, complete with a strong narrative and a few dazzling camera angles, some that still amaze even today, one even required a special rig to make the shocking scene appear even more realistic. Also, the musical composition for film came from well-known and highly accomplished jazz musician Johnny Pate (Dr. Black, My Hyde ), the movie layered the fear and showed subtle moments of good versus evil, you just need to look for them. Novak’s performance clicks perfectly, her tone and look hints to a secret eroticism and yet a boldness in her character’s choices, rather a mere meekness, often found in female characters of the decade. By the way, some horror fans might recognize the name Doug McClure, as he started in director Barbara Peters’ Humanoids from the Deep (1980).
Needless to say, Satan’s Triangle might continue to shift in the currents of sea, but be forewarned one won’t omit the movie from horror’s history, after all evil never dies, it just awaits to board an unsuspecting vessel. Ahoy!
Tagline: A Terrifying Adventure in the Deadly Bermuda Triangle!
IMDb Rating: 6.6/10
Baron’s Rating: 6.0/10
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