Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Cyclone (1978)

          Mexican B-movie helmer René Cardona Jr. hit some kind of personal-best record when he concocted Cyclone, which mashes together cannibalism, natural disasters, and sharks. Why stop with just one lurid element when three would be better? The funny thing is that while most of Cyclone is inept and schlocky, with poorly dubbed English-language dialogue and nonexistent characterizations, several sequences are genuinely unsettling. By relying on the old Lifeboat device of trapping people aboard a vessel that’s floating in the ocean with no hope of rescue, Cardona evokes feelings of claustrophobia, despair, horror, and paranoia. Alas, like the waves of nausea that afflict some of the characters, these moments of emotional truth pass quickly, allowing the movie to settle back into its rut of sensationalistic drudgery. Notwithstanding the film’s title, Cyclone gets the whole business of a vicious tropical storm over with rather quickly. In the first 10 minutes, viewers are introduced to folks on a fishing vessel, a glass-bottom tourist boat, and a plane. Then comes the storm, which is depicted with bargain-basement FX and grainy stock footage, so by 20 minutes into the 100-minute movie, the cyclone is over.
          After a few twists of fate, all of the survivors end up on the glass-bottom boat, and they endure excruciating hunger until killing and eating the scruffy little dog whom one of the passengers regards as her surrogate child. That sequence is tough to watch. After consuming the dog, it’s a short leap for the survivors to consume human flesh once people on the boat begin dying. Sharks hit the scene a bit later, and rest assured Cardona manufactures a feeding-frenzy sequence that’s just as half-assed as the aquatic horror in his previous opus, Tintorera: Killer Shark (1977). Although the characters in Cyclone are largely interchangeable, some notable actors appear, including Carroll Baker, Arthur Kennedy, and Lionel Stander, as well as Mexploitation fave Hugo Stiglitz. As a final note, Cardona and his team demonstrate their usual penny-pinching approach to musical scoring in Cyclone, because the exact same ominous music cue gets played every 10 minutes or so. In other words, if you watch the movie and feel like you’re stuck on a loop, the repetitive and slow-moving narrative isn’t the only reason why.

Cyclone: FUNKY

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