Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Vincent Price and "The Devil's Triangle"

For kicks, Ashar and I watched the 1971 documentary The Devil's Triangle last night.

There weren't many kicks. But at least it was all over in 52 minutes.1

There were really only two highlights:
  • Vincent Price's narration
  • The original poster, which far outkicks the documentary's quality

It's not even really a documentary so much as an assemblage of stock footage interwoven with a few short interviews with subjects whose only common thread is that they didn't disappear into the Bermuda Triangle but knew some folks who might have. (Those poor folks weren't abducted by aliens or Atlanteans or seafaring members of the Deros civilization, of course. They were simply unlucky victims of crashes, explosions and sinkings on an unforgiving sea.)

The poster contains these outrageous blurbs: "HUNDREDS OF SHIPS AND PLANES ARE MISSING" and "The Greatest TRUE LIFE MYSTERY Of The Century!" (Fact check: False.)

Across the top, it announced a $10,000 award "to any viewer of this film who can solve the mystery of the Devil's Triangle! (Information Available at Each Showing)." I am quite sure that the $10,000 was never awarded.

In addition to somehow wrangling Vincent Price to serve as the narrator, the documentary improbably includes music by King Crimson, an English prog-rock band that got its start around the same time as Genesis. I don't know any of King Crimson's music, so I couldn't discern what noises on the muddled soundtrack belonged to them. I'm guessing the band didn't have this on its resume.

The documentary was released by UFO Distributing Inc. (natch). Based on my Googling, UFO Distributing only ever distributed one other film, a 1974 drama titled And Baby Makes Three. (Tagline: "A Drug Addicted COUPLE... A Drug Addicted BABY... THEN WHAT?")

Finally, The Devil's Triangle was directed by Richard Winer (1925-2016). This was his best film, as the only other one he helmed was 1972's 96-minute film Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny. That children's film has a catastrophically low rating of 1.3 stars (out of 10) on IMDb, probably due to the notoriety that comes with being selected as a subject for RiffTrax. 

The good news for Winer is that he had some success as an author. He was a ghost hunter who wrote several books on that topic, and he also wrote three books about the Devil's Triangle, one of which I'm pretty sure my parents had at some point. Apparently the books are more even-handed and skeptical about the idea of shenanigans in the Bermuda Triangle; it's a shame, I guess, that the same couldn't be said for the hyperbolic documentary.

1. When it was over, we still had time to cleanse our palate with a fun episode of Night Gallery in which Larry Hagman appeared to be doing an impersonation of Orson Welles on the sly.

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