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Cyclone (1978)

DVD Cover (Synapse)
Genres / Traits:
Disaster Film, Natural Horror, Thriller, Sharks, Weather
Director:
René Cardona Jr. René Cardona Jr.
Starring:
Arthur Kennedy Arthur Kennedy
Carroll Baker Carroll Baker
Lionel Stander Lionel Stander
Andrés García Andrés García
Hugo Stiglitz Hugo Stiglitz

4.8 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: December 22, 2005
A couple of years ago, Lions Gate released a movie that is similar to today's offering of Cyclone in the form of Open Water. In fact, the general gist of the storyline is quite similar, and it goes a little something like this. A plane is headed towards an island, with a crew consisting of obnoxious American businessman Taylor (Lionel Stander) and a number of other passengers. Meanwhile, a tour boat is going on an, ahem, three hour tour with a number of tourists, including Sheila (Carroll Baker) and her adorable poodle "Christmas", a priest (Arthur Kennedy), and the pregnant (and almost-due) Monica (Olga Karlatos). Note that there were about ten people divided up amongst this plane and the tour boat that were relevant to the overall storyline, but sadly, I missed their names. In yet another part of the ocean, a fishing boat is loaded up with four fishermen who are out plying their daily trade. A pretty normal day out in this ocean... until, that is, the titular cyclone hits and turns everything around for all involved. The three groups become stranded in the middle of the ocean, until they eventually find one another and take refuge on the tour boat. Now, the waiting game begins, and survival soon becomes the only thing that these cats have to hope for.

Much like the aforementioned Open Water, this movie features a group of people stranded in the middle of the ocean, and yes, there are also man-eating sharks to contend with in this film. The key difference between the films, however, is the fact that Open Water had the stars stranded in the middle of the ocean as easy targets for the sharks with no boat and no supplies. Cyclone takes a different approach to the storyline; our stars here have a boat, a small amount of rationed supplies, and the sharks turn out to be the least of their worries for the majority of the film.

Now then, instead of focusing on the fear of the sharks and leaving our heroes bobbing up and down on the waves, director René Cardona Jr. focuses his attention on the much more realistic situation at hand - there's a very limited amount of food and water and there are a lot of hungry mouths to be fed in order to keep all aboard alive. Greed becomes a factor when some people feel that they deserve more rations than others, there's back-stabbing and massive amounts of cash being transferred over mere mouthfuls of water, and yes, the idea of cannibalism is explored when things start getting extremely desperate. Although I found that it got a bit too slow in the pacing department at points, especially considering the two-hour running time of the movie, I found that this approach to the stranded-at-sea disaster flick worked out much better than the approach Open Water took.

When used, the effects featured here range from great to, well, decent. However, as I've already mentioned in this review, the shark attacks are the least of their worries and we don't get a whole lot of time to see human dismemberment's and such. Personally, this approach worked out quite nicely for yours truly, but if you're looking for a ton of gore and loads of bodies being torn apart, you'll likely walk away from this one disappointed. There are a few shark attacks, and yes, some people die from them, but there's not enough to warrant a rental if that's all you're looking for. I've heard that real human corpses were used in these shots, which I obviously can't deny with any sort of authority, but personally, I don't believe it. When the sharks attack, you see a pool of blood forming in the water, and you then see the shark with clothes and random pieces of flesh in its mouth. This effect could have easily been performed by stuffing a side of beef into a shirt and feeding it to the sharks, but again, I can't say for certain that that's how they pulled it off. Regardless, it was a decent effect, but nothing spectacular. On the other hand, there's this one scene... well, I won't ruin it, but dog-lovers may want to turn away at one point in the film. We get to witness the death of this pooch in all its "glory", and I'm not going to say that it was a legitimate dog-slaughtering, but I definitely can't say that it was faked either. If it was faked, my hat is tipped at whomever was responsible for this effect for pulling off one of the most realistic deaths that I have ever seen.

Overall, I'd give this one a recommendation for those who enjoy disaster flicks such as this and for those who can tolerate a slow-paced film. If you enjoyed the pacing of Open Water and walked away from that film feeling like you'd got your moneys worth, then you'd likely get a kick out of this one as well. On the other hand, however, if you're expecting a huge body-count or a more horror-oriented shark-attack film similar to Jaws, you'd probably do best looking elsewhere for your entertainment purposes. 8/10.
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