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TV Terror Guide: Fer-de-Lance (1974)

Air Date: Oct. 10, 1974 (CBS)

Production Companies: Leslie Stevens Productions

Running Time: 100 min.

Available on: YouTube

Written by: Leslie Stevens

Directed by: Russ Mayberry

Cast: David Janssen, Hope Lange, Ivan Dixon, Jason Evers, Charles Robinson, Ben Piazza

Rating: 3 vintage televisions (out of 10)


Who says you don’t learn anything from movies, especially 1970’s TV movies? Did you know it’s apparently “against regulations” to bring a basket full of snakes onto a U.S Navy submarine? Yes, before there were mother f-ing snakes on a mother f-ing plane, there were gosh-darned snakes on a gosh-darned submarine.


The movie is named Fer-de-Lance, as is the submarine, as is the viper family of venomous snakes brought on board in a basket. I’m not sure why Compton (Frank Bonner) does it, except that he wants to “scare old Bradley (William Mims) out of his skivvies.” Was that his mistake, though, or was it putting them under a grate where they could later crawl out?


Snake bites start plaguing crew members and, before you know it, the sub is dragging the bottom of the ocean near the Falkland Islands. I shouldn’t say “before you know it.” I felt every minute of inaction until something finally happened, and it wasn’t just the submarine that was dragging. It’s a two-hour TV movie, meaning it runs over 90-minutes. It should have been 90/75 minutes.


The best thing about Fer-de-Lance is the music. It’s composed by Dominic Frontiere, who also inexplicably produced the film. I guess he knew the writer, Leslie Stevens, since they were both instrumental to The Outer Limits. Director Russ Mayberry, though, doesn’t know what to do with the script. A TV veteran since 1960, he was more successful with sitcoms.


Unless the very idea of snakes in confined space scares you, there’s just not much to get out of the movie because there aren’t even very many scenes of the snakes slithering. They take a back seat to the issue of getting the sub back to the surface before it runs out of oxygen. It’s a double threat, but neither one as deadly as watching Fer-de-Lance… the movie, the sub, or the snakes.


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

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