Encounters in the Deep (1979)

a.k.a. - Encuentro en el abismo (ITA)

Gianni Garko stars in a painfully low budget sci-fi film from director Tonino Ricci. 23rd Century UK DVD.

The Film

In the Bermuda triangle, a military vessel encounters a fast moving object on their radar and moments later they are consumed in a bright light. Another small boat in the Carribean suffers a similar fate while the newly wed couple on board are talking on the radio to her father Mr Miles. A large search is organised but when it is called off, he becomes determined to find them, convinced that they are still alive. He funds a professor who has been researching the phenomena of the region to carry out a new investigation and a group set out into the heart of the Bermuda Triangle...

The film, at least in the English language print reviewed here, opens with a monologue prologue about UFOs, quoting randomly from some popular texts on the topic before suddently jumping into the fictional narrative. The sequence has no relevance whatsoever to the film and seems to be a half-hearted attempt to make the film seem like a documentary piece (the 1970s saw quite a number of Bermuda Triangle documentaries in light of the highly popular if somewhat dubious Charles Berlitz book "The Bermuda Triangle" (1974)).

The storyline is for the most part a very basic affair which seems incredibly padded out to reach feature length, the middle scenes on the boat seem to drag on interminably. Even one of the few action scenes, the opening disappearance of the military vessel is completely unnecessary as we are going to see another disappearance just a few minutes later which is actually relevant to the plot. Aspects of Bermuda Triangle mythos just seem to be randomly thrown into the script and in the English language print at least, the dialogue seems slilted, unnatural and even unintelligable a lot of the time (as though poorly translated from the Italian). There are two sections that suggest a horror theme that could have worked well; one of the characters appears to become possessed seemingly by the powers in the triangle, but nothing ever actually comes of this, while in the film's best sequence the crew encounter an abandoned ghost ship in a fog bank with a genuinely creepy atmosphere, but the scene is over quickly. Instead, the film drags on to a suitably odd climax that does at least fit with the tone of the film as a whole.

Obviously director Tonino Ricci (credited as Anthony Richmond) is not blessed with a particularly strong budget. The film looks acceptable for the most part, with the boat scenes routinely shot and the underwater scenes decently helmed, but when the special effects start up the low budget is very obvious, from the bathtub boat models to the dime store optical effects. Composer Stelvio Cipriani, who worked in a wide variety of Euro-cult projects through the 1970s, provides a decent if largely unmemorable soundtrack.

A sign of the decline in Euro-cult cinema in the late 1970s is the surprisingly good cast prepared to appear in this film, including Gabriele Ferzetti (C'era una volta il West (1968)), Andrés García (who appropriately enough starred in the previous year's The Bermuda Triangle (1978)) and Spaghetti Western star Gianni Garko (Se incontri Sartana prega per la tua morte (1968)) - however with the script giving them little to do they all look rather bored by the production.

A couple of high points cannot save a dull script, a good cast cannot make up for bored acting and some decent underwater scenes cannot make up for micro-budgeted special effects (of which there are not enough to give this film camp value). Whatever potential there is, is wasted in this film that could only be made worthwhile with the Mystery Science Theatre treatment. Not recommendable.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Gianni Garko - a popular Spaghetti Western star, he also appeared in similarly inept Devil Fish (1984)
Directed by anyone interesting? Tonino Ricci (as Anthony Richmond) - one of the later Euro-cult directors who directed Zanna bianca alla riscossa (1974) but mostly worked on ultra-low budgeted fare including Bermude: la fossa maledetta (1978).
Any gore or violence ? None.
Any sex or nudity? None.
Who is it for? Of interest only to fans of really bad cinema and there is too much boredom and not enough cheese to make this really worthwhile.

Visuals Cropped - 1.33:1 fullscreen. Colour.
OAR seems to be 1.85:1 and the cropping is occasionally noticable
This DVD appears to be sourced directly from the 1986 Elephant Video release and is a decent quality VHS transfer, colours are faded in places but there is good detail through much of the film, the only annoyance being some slight tracking lines at the very edge of the picture. The original print has some slight speckling.
Audio English mono - some background hiss but generally fine.
Subtitles None
Extras None.
Availability The 23rd Century range was only available from selected British "Pound Store" retailers and appears to be completely discontinued now.
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Other regions? None known.
Cuts? Cut status unconfirmed. The print is English language and includes opening titles that seem to be created seperately to the film.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 3rd August 2010.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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