“Terror Strikes the Trapped Crew!”
A little bit of herb is never a bad thing, right? Well, that is, unless you’re Frank Bonner (who’d go onto television fame playing the obnoxious Herb Tarlek on WKRP in Cincinnati) and you’re playing Compton, an intellectually absent mate on a submarine. Here, Bonner/Compton’s idea of a gag is to smuggle a basket full of highly poisonous fer-de-lance snakes onboard for his next assignment. Naturally, Bonner- Compton and his bunkmate soon wind up very, very comatose.
Thus begins 1974 television horror-adventure show Fer-de-Lance. Starting out promisingly enough, with Bonner actually supplying plenty of rascally charm, this piece soon turns into more of a choppingly paced action film (as the submarine becomes landlocked between some underwater rock formations) than an out and out source of animal terror. Lead David Janssen even spends a major part of the running time flat on his back in a decompression chamber.
Best known to terror aficionados for playing the concerned matriarch role in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, the pixie-like Hope Lange does show up as a Naval Commander Elaine Wedell, proving these type of genre flicks did (and do) offer female performers a terrific chance to stretch outside of the typical girlfriend and mom roles. Other notable female roles in this venture include a diving champ (who performs a dangerous rescue mission) and Lange’s trustworthy underling, a lieutenant.
Still, Lange and Janssen are pretty much just phoning it in here with even the slithery yet jokey final shock scene not playing as well as it should. Dominic Frontiere does do impressive work with the musical score, though. He creates a soundtrack that is aquatically majestic and skin-shiveringly slithery.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!