Director: Tsugunobu Kotani (billed as Tom Kotani)
Writer: William Overgard (screenplay), Arthur Rankin, Jr. (story)
Cast: Leigh McCloskey, Carl Weathers, Burl Ives, Connie Sellecca, Julie Woodson, Ruth Attaway
Running Time: 97 min.
By Alvin George
A live-action TV movie from Rankin/Bass Productions (the same company that put out the cartoon “Thundercats” and that deathless stop-motion classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”), “The Bermuda Depths” has acquired a significant cult following over the years. The main protagonist is Magnus (future “Dallas” regular Leigh McCloskey), a young white dude who was orphaned when he was a young boy. As a young adult, he is back in Bermuda after traveling around to various places. Jennie Haniver (Connie Sellecca, who would later appear opposite William Katt on the TV show “The Greatest American Hero”), a dark-haired beauty who had played with Magnus as a child, mysteriously re-enters his life. Magnus hooks up with his black friend Eric (Carl “Apollo Creed” Weathers) and an eldery marine biologist (Burl Ives, the voice of the Snowman in the aforementioned “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”) to help him with matters. Former Playboy Playmate Julie Woodson plays Weathers’ wife, while “Conrack” actress Ruth Attaway plays an old lady who has a disturbing story to tell about Jenny.
Helmed by Japanese director Tsugunobu Kotani, “The Bermuda Depths” is…something. I admit to being somewhat of a pushover for vintage made-for-TV movies. There has been “Black Water Gold,” “Hunters of the Reef,” “Contract on Cherry Street,” “The Hunted Lady,” “The Norliss Tapes,” “Terror on the Beach,” etc.
Curiously, none of the three principal black actors (Weathers, Woodson, and Attaway) seem to utilize a noticeable accent. Lou Gossett, Jr. utilized one in “The Deep”, another Bermuda-based movie. Weathers, Woodson, and Attaway all admittedly came from the continental United States, but so did Gossett. The special effects are not the best (this is a TV movie from the late 1970s, after all), and that giant sea turtle might evoke Gamera in some people’s minds (though I can’t say I ever really watched a Gamera movie). “The Bermuda Depths” is not bad, and there are some nice shots of Bermuda in it–not to mention an aura that’s eerie and ultimately downbeat. However, the story isn’t super-compelling, and the dated special effects might make this flick worthy of the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” treatment.
Alvin George’s Rating: 6/10