Cyclone, a.k.a. Terror Storm (1978)

Conacine.  Director: René Cardona Jr.

Creature Feature Bleachers Award: Worst. Dubbing Rhythm and.. Line. Delivery.

Fortunately I wasn’t paying much attention as the opening credits of “Cyclone” scrolled by.  Had I seen the name René Cardona Jr.— director of “Tintorera,” the worst sharksploitation film of all time— I probably wouldn’t have kept watching.  Like its irrevocably scarring predecessor, “Cyclone” includes performances by Mexican actors Andrés García and Hugo Stiglitz.  This time, however, they keep their clothes on.  For that and many other reasons, “Cyclone” rates leagues better than its unfortunate precursor, and goes a long way toward restoring my faith in the Mexican sharksploitation film industry of the late 1970s.  I highly recommend giving it a view.

A cyclone hits the coast of Mexico, wrecking vessels and stranding many people at sea.  An airplane crashes down into the ocean, a fishing boat begins to take on water, and a glass-bottom tourist craft uses all of its gas to avoid being smashed up.  Relatives and loved ones petition the authorities to do more, but resources are limited and not everyone can be saved right away.  As the survivors somehow find each other in the ocean and move onto the tourist boat, tensions begin to flare.  How long can they last without food and water?  How should their meager supplies be divided?  Is there a bigger threat lurking beneath the waves?

The DVD Cover

“Cyclone” begins very chaotically, as it can’t decide who to focus on: the imperiled airplane passengers, the fishermen in a lifeboat, the three-hour tourists without any gas, or the concerned loved ones back on shore.  We are faced with dozens of characters, and it is difficult to keep track of who is who.  Towards the second half of the film, though, “Cyclone” finally starts to pick up.  The survivors consolidate into one large group, while the hardships of being stranded in the ocean begin to set in.  Given the poor quality of this movie, you don’t actually feel scared by any of the events, but you can appreciate the film’s distant relationship to the blockbuster disaster films of the 70s.

The one characteristic that absolutely makes this movie is its awful dubbing.  The actors appear to be speaking English, yet their voices are (very unconvincingly) dubbed nonetheless.  Coupled with incredibly deadpan performances by everyone, the unnatural rhythm of the dubbing lends the characters a bizarrely calm, almost pod-like demeanor.  This phenomenon reaches the apex of its hilarity when supposedly distraught relatives on shore sedately demand that their loved ones be found, only to be told that they need to calm down.  The first two minutes of the film give a sense of just how awful the acting and dubbing are:

Despite the prominent location of a shark on the movie poster, I wouldn’t classify “Cyclone” as a full-on sharksploitation film.  Compared to the various others threats (the cyclone, drowning, thirst and starvation, to name a few), sharks actually play a relatively minor role in making the lives of the survivors miserable.  Oddly enough, the few shark attacks that do occur take place during the day, and in clear water.

Um, I guess that’s scary?

That being said, the sharks have some pretty awesome theme music.  Imagine if Andrew Lloyd Weber had a really off day and decided to compose a rock opera about sharks, but only wrote the first few measures of a song without any lyrics.  Play that over and over again, and you’d have the soundtrack to “Cyclone.”

For some reason, the sharks are attracted to rusty pants.

The trailer hits all of the gross points of the film, so if you’re of a weak stomach, don’t watch:

The Trailer

“Cyclone” is available on Amazon.

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