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TV Terror Guide: Cruise Into Terror (1978)


Backed by a relentless soundtrack that ensures you know how to react while simultaneously beating you into submission, Cruise into Terror (1978) is a wacky mishmash of subject matter and genre tropes. You’ve got to admire the effort, but also laugh at (with?) the result. It’s part disaster film, part horror movie… a little bit The Poseidon Adventure, Jaws, The Mummy, The Exorcist… combined in the most unlikely of combinations.

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An “old battle wagon” with one engine is commissioned to deliver 12 passengers to Mexico. Contrary to any acknowledged evidence, one of them, archeologist Dr. Isiah Bakkun (Ray Milland) believes that ancient Egyptians visited Cozumel and left treasure behind. Matt Lazarus (Frank Converse) has more modern calculations that indicate it wasn’t Cozumel, but the middle of the ocean, where the treasure is buried.

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There’s also a black cat on board, and although there’s nothing supernatural yet discovered, strange things happen, and people die. Captain Andrews (Hugh O’Brian) insists there’s a logical explanation for everything. Reverend Charles Mather (John Forsythe) becomes increasingly insistent that evil surrounds them. His wife, Lil (Lee Meriwether) isn’t sure about that, but she is sure she longs for the touch of a man.

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Long story short (and it is a seemingly long part of the film’s running time), they do unearth a sarcophagus at the bottom of the sea. Stranded with neither engine nor communication, the greed of Neal Barry (Christopher George) and Lazarus clashes with the pride of discovery of Bakkus and with the religious zealotry of Rev. Mather. He believes it’s not only a mummy’s tomb that shouldn’t be opened, but contains the son of Satan himself.

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If anything wraps it all together, it’s that there’s actually a 13th passenger, which means one of them as the guardian of the mummy/son of Satan. Suspicion grows and accusations fly! That’s compelling. Add a little bit of The Thing and the human relationships become the deadliest threat the characters face. More could have been done to eliminate a few suspects and increase the suspense, but there’s hardly time with all the scenery chewing that’s occurring.

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It's very easy to nitpick this one. For example, they ooh and ah over the fact that the sarcophagus is made of solid gold. Yet, at the end – SPOILER – they expect it to burn. Maybe it was just gold-plated? Any logic or reason is thrown overboard in favor of coincidence. You’ve got to sit back, laugh at the dialogue (“Just because I’m on a diet doesn’t mean I can’t look at the menu”), and simply experience a fun, silly TV movie.

Visit the TV Terror Guide: 70's TV Movies playlist at ClassicHorrors.Club TV on YouTube to watch Cruise Into Terror as well as all the great movies from this series.

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