Traumatized, orphaned college dropout Magnus Dens returns to Bermuda to find the cause of his father's mysterious death years before. At the Bermuda Biological Station, he finds Eric and Dr. Paulis, friends and colleagues of his late father, and joins them on a quest for gigantic sea creatures. He also meets Jennie Haniver, a mysterious young woman who was once his only childhood friend. Dr. Paulis' housekeeper, an island local, warns Magnus that Jennie is dangerous. The beautiful but vain young woman had sold her soul with the Devil centuries before and lives forever young deep in the waters of the Devil's Triangle (a.k.a. Bermuda Triangle). Nobody heeds the folklore and the researchers trap the giant sea turtle, setting the stage for a deadly confrontation with both minions of the Devil.
Directed by: Tsugunobu Kotani
. Starring: Leigh McCloskey
, Carl Weathers
, Connie Sellecca
, Julie Woodson
, Ruth Attaway
, Burl Ives
, Elise Frick
, Nicholas Ingham
, Kevin Petty
, Nicole Marsh
, George Richards
, John Instone
, Jonathan Ingham
. Music by: Maury Laws
A young man returns to Bermuda hoping to discover why his father died 13 years earlier and becomes entranced by a mysterious young woman who turns out to be the childhood friend who disappeared into the sea that same day. Somehow, she is connected to his father's strange fate, but the answers lie out there, in the Devil's Triangle.
I first saw 'The Bermuda Depths' many years ago and while the plot had faded from memory long since, there was something about it that remained with me. A recent reviewing went some way toward explaining this, although it also suggested that my tastes were probably less demanding back then. What I see now is a film that has not aged well, unraveled in its designs by bad acting, dreadful special effects and a premise that proves effective only while under the influence of Valium. The nonsense of the Bermuda Triangle too was perhaps more alluring in 1978, but seems painfully artificial now, perhaps because the coast guards of the region have been trying to get it through to people that nowhere near as many ships disappear in the area as pop culture would maintain, and those that have did so with a far more mundane explanation than some want to believe.
Others may suggest I'm missing the point of course, and 'The Bermuda Depths' rides high on the wave of piffle the previous decades have built up surrounding this supposedly supernatural island chain. Throw in an emotionally-damaged young man, a family tragedy, an attractive siren in a black swimsuit and legends of archelonian leviathans, and herein is the tale intended to ensnare us from the distractions of logic. Well-done, these elements should come together to form an intriguing mystery and a haunting story of star-crossed love, but the delivery is off both before and behind the camera.
The central character of Magnus Dens, for example, is potentially the most intriguing. Dens, we learn, is an aimless drifter, orphaned by the tragic loss of his parents and direction-less as a result. Upon returning to Bermuda, he finds himself entranced by a woman invisible to everyone but the local 'wise woman' who places her existence within the framework of a centuries-old curse. Rejecting the madness of the one person who believes him, Dens is treated with pitied sympathy by his friends, certain his crumbling psychological state is torturing him with the hallucinations of an imaginary friend. This, to me, demonstrates wonderful scope on the part of the lead that should lend true anguish and drama to the conflict. Unfortunately, actor Leigh McClosky brings this complex character to life with all the energy of a deflating balloon, his languid stares and lethargic movement interrupted at times by over-the-top aggression meant to signal an unleashing of his inner turmoil, but coming across as two-dimensional over-excitement. While I have no problem with the supporting cast, their efforts cannot make up for McClosky's inability to act. Even the lovely Connie Sellecca's superior performance as the almost spectral seductress Jennie -' a subtle miasma of innocence and eternal regret -' can only do so much when this is whom she must play against, although it's likely no coincidence that it is with her that McClosky gives his best performances, Sellecca seemingly bringing out in him capabilities elsewhere hidden from view.
That said, William Overgard's script clearly isn't interested in being the character study it ought to in favour of a shallow pastiche of 'Moby Dick' vying for time with the elements of unrequited love. There's no reason we can't have both, but efforts to champion one direction come at the cost of another, perhaps in a desire to provide spectacle. This unfortunately is where the film's low budget really becomes evident, with some very cheap and unconvincing model shots, special effects and atrocious day-for-night shooting , which admittedly I don't recall being such glaring problems 20 years ago. 'The Bermuda Depths' is one of those films that holds together far better not simply in the distant past when it was made, but in that hazy distance of memory, which over time smooths out the inconsistencies. It's a little like being reunited with your first love and finding that much of what you recall about it has been rose-tinted in the years since.
The soundtrack too is an odd mish-mash of styles reflecting the shifting, unevenness of the plot. A haunting period theme song suggests temptation and seduction, giving way to a recurring (and indeed familiar) classical guitar motif, both of which must coexist with a strange retro thriller score that reminded me at times of orchestrations Malcolm Lockyer was creating in 60s sci-fi matinées. The final element of what one today might call 'muzak' fills out the dramatic downtime. The overall lack of coherence suggests the differing perspectives behind the scenes and a loss of clarity.
One thing that has not suffered from the passage of time, however, is the location itself. All exterior scenes were shot in Bermuda and its sleepy urban landscape, powder-white beaches flanked by picturesque rocky outcrops and azure sea go a long way toward compensating for other deficiencies. The local government, credited for assisting in the making of the film, would doubtless have seen it as an enticing travel promotion and deservedly so -' it certainly worked on me. The natural landscape lends itself perfectly to the storyline and ultimately, it is only the artificial enhancements of post-production, weak plotting and character development that don't stand up to scrutiny -' especially to a modern audience.
Ultimately, these are the dangers of revisiting the past and the way it is often defeated by the ravages of time and the changes we undergo as a result. Ironically, this mirrors 'The Bermuda Depths' rather well. The film itself is the beckoning siren, luring the rose-tinted memories of an ageing audience toward potential heartbreak, and like the ancient mariners, I failed to lash myself to the mast in time.
Review by Muldwych from the Internet Movie Database.