Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Movie of the Day: The Bermuda Depths

As a child I was extremely terrified of horror movies, and yet I was intensely interested in all things supernatural or creepy. Although I ran into another room on the rare occassions when my mom would watch a horror film(she isn't a horror fan, but I distinctly remember hiding in my bedroom during Friday the 13th part 2 and Fright Night), I thrilled whenever my braver friends would describe films like Alien or The Stuff. I read a ton of horror books, and scoured the library for books about 'real' supernatural phenomena, from Bigfoot to UFO's to voodoo(in 6th grade I became quite obsessed with voodoo, or at least the mostly fictionalized version you find in western entertainment). I pored over books ABOUT horror or science fiction movies, particularly the ones with a large middle section devoted to photographs. Although I wasn't ready for the films themselves, I memorized the alien landscapes from plenty of those movies.

The main problem wasn't that I was a particularly frightened child, but that I startled easy. Ask Amber, I jump at any goddamn thing, in any goddamn movie. Romantic comedies, family films, melodramas; if it has a loud noise and sudden movie I involuntarily react by jumping out of my skin. Thankfully I can only think of two instances where I screamed aloud(Audition at home, and The Others in the theatre). This intense nervousness, coupled with my love of all things paranormal, goes a long way towards explaining my fondness for The Bermuda Depths, a live action television movie by Rankin/Bass(the people behind most of the stop-motion Christmas specials you remember from your childhood) first aired two weeks before my birth. It was supernatural and slightly creepy without ever trying to be scary, so it was safe for me to sit through.

I can't remember exactly when I first saw The Bermuda Depths, but it was certainly in the mid-80s, and my memory tells me that it was hosted by Elvira. I can't find any proof that Elvira actually presented this movie on one of her shows, but I'm pretty sure I'm correct. Although I only saw it once in elementary school, the film stuck with me for decades, and stayed with me in a very deep, personal way that most films never did, eve superior films that I enjoy more. The film represented some tragic, romantic ideal that haunted me for years, to the point that whenever I heard the sound of Humpback Whales I'd feel an intense longing for something indefinable that I knew I would never reach, or even know what it was.

My rhapsodic comments here are probably giving you the idea that this is some lost classic that fell through the cracks unjustly, but you'd be wrong. The Bermuda Depths is by no means awful - watching it recently for the first time in at least 20 years, it actually surpassed meager expectations- but it is really, really cheesy. Leigh McCloskey plays Magnus, who returns to his childhood home troubled by memories of a vague accident at his old home, which now lies in a crumbling ruin on a cliff overlooking the ocean. He meets up with Eric(Carl Weathers), an old friend now working as a grad student researching marine life, and Jenny(Connie Seleca), a mysterious, possibly dead woman he remembers playing with as a child, but who most people believe doesn't exist. And there's a giant turtle. Big. Gamera big, although this one doesn't fly.

Describing the movie more would do no good; either you saw it years ago and fell in love, or you've never seen it and watching it now would do nothing for you. The Bermuda Depths is not a very well known film, so you probably never saw it. It doesn't have much in the way of critical discussion, and the only two sources I found that weren't anonymous internet bloggers did not speak highly of it. There's a fairly intense group of people who love this movie(look up the discussions on IMDb, some people are writing poetry about it!), and I have to admit I'm one of them, but I'm assuming that, like me, they all saw this movie at a formative point in their lives. I'm glad that I now own the movie on DVD(through Warner's DVD On Demand service), and I'm glad Amber watched it with me. It's something I actually look forward to visiting again, but mainly I'm glad to have had those memories, haunting me for my adult life.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 with the understanding that it'd probably be lower if without the nostalgia factor.

1 comment:

Ricardo Esparza Núñez said...

Man, I also fell in love with the movie when I watched it as a little kid with my gradpa by my side. I just recently found out that this move actually exists and it wasn't only a childhood dream of mine. Hell, I didn't know the name of the film! I wrote "giant turtle film" in Wikipedia and it eventually led me to this post, which is great by the way! Good to know there's other people who loves this film! Cheers!