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Film / Cyclone (1978)

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If they did fall into the sea, hope to God they’re all dead because survival in the sea without food of water is a fate worse than death.
Mexican Coast Guard Captain

Cyclone (later re-marketed under the title Terror Storm) is a 1978 Lost at Sea survival film with elements of horror. It was made by Mexican filmmaker René Cardona Jr. (Survive!, Guyana: Crime of the Century), but has a multinational cast and all-English dialogue. A cyclone devastates the coast of Mexico, bringing down a plane, leaving a glass bottom tour boat adrift, and forcing a group of fishermen to Abandon Ship. The survivors of all three groups (including a young Edith González) are left trapped at sea with little food and water to go around, especially once they come into contact with each other and have to share. There are also a few Threatening Shark scenes, most notably in the final scene.


  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: The morning after Monica goes into labor and delivers a healthy baby, the wounded crewman Carmelo dies.
  • Bring Help Back: After more food becomes available, two of the fishermen, the newborn baby, and the baby's parents feel well-supplied enough to fashion a sail and use the fishing trawler's lifeboat to try and reach shore or the shipping lanes and get help for the drifting tour boat. They succeed, and a rescue party is just in time to save about half of the others from sharks after the tour boat sinks.
  • Burial at Sea: The bodies of two of the three wounded survivors who die aboard the tour boat are respectfully dropped into the ocean, although the first of them has a piece of missing flesh the others use for fishing bait. The man who dies between them is cannibalized, though, at his own request.
  • Characters Dropping Like Flies: The cyclone alone kills almost a hundred unnamed secondary characters, then the survival drama that takes the rest of the film kills seven more and the final five minutes of the film sees half of the remaining survivors being eaten by sharks as they are trying to swim to the rescue ship.
  • Doomed Hurt Guy: In the aftermath of the disaster, there are four wounded people whom a doctor tries to help care for; three from the plane and one from the fishing boat. None of them live. The plane's co-pilot's wounds attract a shark while the plane survivors are adrift and the other three all die of their injuries over the next couple of weeks.
  • Happily Married: All three couples among the stranded survivors seem happy and supportive toward each other. Most notably, the injured Tonya's husband spends most of his time comforting her and is very firm about giving her a proper Burial at Sea rather than cannibalizing her.
  • Honest Corporate Executive: Downplayed with Mr. Taylor from the plane. He's flying to Mexico to try and put a stop to a fisherman's union and doesn't get why people want one. On the other hand, he argues that he pays good prices for the seafood the fishermen catch and gives them and their families high-quality housing and low interest loans. He's still one of the more selfish and unhelpful survivors, but doesn't display a complete Lack of Empathy.
  • Kavorka Man: The fisherman nicknamed Cachalote (which is another name for sperm whale, meaning the nickname may be a reference to sexual prowess) is a squat, surly, balding man with missing teeth, but he has several children with both his wife and another woman he's been living with for some time, and the two women (who know about each other) still seem concerned about his safety while filing a missing persons report after the storm.
  • Maternity Crisis: Tour boat passenger Monica is about seven months pregnant when she gives birth while Lost at Sea, with no medical instruments and little food and water to go around. She, her baby, and even her husband all survive without many ill effects.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Several uncredited women-including one little girl-die in the plane crash, but after that scene, only one female character-an injured passenger from the plane-dies, in contrast to almost twenty men besides the plane crash fatalities.
  • No Antagonist: Several characters have selfish and abrasive moments (most notably Captain Pichura, his crewman Cachalote, industrialist plane passenger Taylor, and Mickey from the tour boat), but all of them have Pet the Dog moments and aren't concerned just about their own survival, despite what Pichura claims at one point. None of them do anything that seriously and deliberately endangers the entire group, although a fight over some water between Taylor, Mickey and Cachalote breaks the glass bottom, making the boat sink and causing the passengers to be vulnerable to sharks.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: Downplayed and then played straight in a progressing series of incidents.
    • First, one of the survivors kills the only dog on the boat, because it is using up vital food and water and can be used for food and bait.
    • After one survivor dies, there's a heated debate about the morality of cutting off a piece of his flesh for more fishing bait, since the fish will be eating the rest of his body anyway. They take some flesh for a bait but only catch a shark, which is too big to reel in.
    • Finally, when Manolo dies of his wounds, his best friend reveals that he requested the others cannibalize his body to survive. This leads to a long and tense debate about the action (such as whether they can survive without it, whether it will provoke a Jumping Off the Slippery Slope action to cannibalize more people, whether it's against the Bible, and whether it's safe). His body is cut up and dried in the sun to make jerky, which is followed by a montage of people eating (often with traumatized looks) or refusing to eat.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Andrés the tour boat captain assumes leadership of the others and does so fairly well. He is mindful of conserving resources but also eventually acquiesces to sharing with the other survivors the tour boat picks up. He insists on votes for the most important decisions (like the No Party Like the Donner Party debate), and when it becomes clear the group is ready to engage in cannibalism, he says that if anyone else dies, then there will be no eating the body unless the person's companion or family (if any) consent.
    • The Mexican authorities respond efficiently in preparing for the storm, are honest with the relatives of the missing people, and allocate search resources the best they can to help everyone. However, they Gave Up Too Soon before finding the survivors Lost at Sea.
  • Skewed Priorities: After Pichura and his crew have to abandon their fishing boat in the middle of a storm and two crewmen die, his first priority is lamenting the loss of his prized, expensive boat and thousands of dollars of shrimp.
  • Threatening Shark: Zigzagged. Sharks show up three times in the 118 minute movie. The first time, one of them kills a man with injured legs who is drifting in the water but leaves everyone else alone. The second time, the survivors fish for the shark for food and injure it with their hook. When one of them falls into the water, he's in a hurry to get back aboard before the shark goes after him, but it doesn't seem to go after him. In the final scene, though, a school of sharks attack the drifting characters who are awaiting rescue and kill several of them even though none of them are bleeding at first.