To be completely honest I solely bought this movie for the stunning DVD artwork alone. This amazing piece of art is by the talented Wes Benscotter (an artist known for Heavy Metal album covers) brought back good memories of VHS covers of the past and I couldn't pass it up. Though I wasn't expecting much from the movie itself as it is written and directed by Rene Cardona Jr., son of the exploitation director that gave us the synthetic survival flick "Survive!", it still managed to be marginally better then what I was expecting from a low budget Mexican disaster film.
A sudden hurricane, though it's called a cyclone, hit's the coast of Mexico downing a plane, sinking a fishing barge and blowing a tourist boat deep out into the ocean. The survivors of all three patently wait to be rescued and with water and food running out, they have to resort to killing dogs and eating the dead to survive.
As you can tell this is a carbon copy of "Survive!", a film also co-written by Rene Cardona Jr., only with the setting changed from the snow capped Andes to the ocean. Hell there is even a reference to the events of that film mentioned by one of the characters! Yet despite this film not having the luxury of being "based on a true story", I still came out liking it MUCH more perhaps for the fact it didn't have to linger between the lines of truth that fact based stories handcuff the filmmakers too.
The characters are all typical stereo types including the religious nut, the crotchety old bastard, the psychotic and even the pregnant woman. Seriously, we even had to throw in a pregnant woman about to give birth in to the plot, which is equivalent to the preverbal kitchen sink?! In the mix we get some great cult actors including Arthur Kennedy ("Rome Armed to the Teeth", "Let Sleeping Corpses Lie") and Olga Karlatos ("Zombie"). Oh yes we also get Hugo Stiglitz ("Nightmare City") too but I've made my opinion be known about this non-actor in other reviews.
Exploitation director René Cardona Jr. seems to actually have a handle on this film and is able to craft some interesting scenes of human conflict as well as atmosphere, especially during a shot of our sunken' airplane with the dead floating within it's cold, dark fuselage. His underwater photography is also impressive with great shots of swimming sharks. Typical with Cardona he has to inject plenty of exploitation elements to make it worthwhile, including the killing of a dog and rather graphic shark attacks.
The major problems with this film is the dire dialogue and long running time, which clocks in just shy of two hours. Since the film almost entirely takes place on a single boat, the two hour running time gets to feel like forever with this one setting. The despicable dialogue, some of which sounds like bland narration, can induce a few unintentional laughs also.
With better dialogue, a tighter pace with proper editing, "Cyclone" would have been a cult film fanatics dream. As is it's still worth a look for fans of 70's disaster films that don't mind a little gory exploitation to spice things up a bit. The film has been released in multiple versions and editions all over the world, under various lengths and titles (including "Terror Storm" among others), but by far the best edition is the Synapse release with the kick-ass cover artwork I talked about in the opening paragraph.
Written By Eric Reifschneider