A chilling opening crawl thrusts us headlong into another made-for-TV horror movie. Satan’s Triangle aired on January 14th, 1975 on ABC.

Within the last thirty years just off the east coast of the United States more than a thousand men, women and children have vanished from the face of the Earth.
No one knows how. Or why.
This is one explanation…

Let’s check it out and see how it compares to The Intruder Within, Midnight Offerings and Curse of the Black Widow.

The 1970s were almost as big a time for pseudoscience as today. Almost… Killer bees, poltergeists, Atlantis, Nostradamus, raining frogs, Bigfoot, flying saucers, global cooling, and more, populated magazine articles, TV specials and paperbacks. Yet, the Grandaddy of them all was the Bermuda Triangle.

Authors like Charles Berlitz warned us that flying over that part of the ocean was basically a death sentence. You would either get zapped by ancient lasers lying in ruin on the seafloor, beamed up by aliens or teleported to the same dimension visited by the USS Eldridge.

Satan’s Triangle of Authority

At some point, a genius by the name of William Read Woodfield came up with the winning idea of combining the Bermuda Triangle with Satan. Woodfield was a publisher, photographer and television writer who worked on shows like Mission: Impossible and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

As for why Satan would want to hang out in the middle of the ocean when all of his worshippers hang out in Hollywood is not explained.

Sutton Roley directed Satan’s Triangle. He also worked in TV, directing episodes of such favorites as Airwolf, Spenser: For Hire, The New Mike Hammer, Starsky and Hutch, Kojak and Hawaii Five-O. Roley brings a surprising amount of style to the film, even though it is a scant 75 minutes.

About the only thing Roley does wrong is smearing an excessive amount of Vaseline on the camera lens for the storm scenes. I thought I developed cataracts for a few sections of the movie.

Johnny Pate provides spooky music that is also fairly effective. Pate was a jazz musician who worked mainly in the music industry and only periodically did movie work. The guy is actually still around. He turned 100 in December. Happy belated birthday, Pate! Hopefully, someone got him pâté.


Satan’s Golden Triangle

Satan’s Triangle stars Doug McClure, who any child of the 1980s who is a movie fan should recognize for his string of fun fantastical/adventure romps: The Land That Time Forgot, At the Earth’s Core, The People That Time Forgot, Warlords of Atlantis and the monumentally trashy Humanoids from the Deep.

Frank Sinatra groupie, Hitchcock alum and raccoon-eyed Kim Novak joins McClure. Ed Lauter (King Kong 1976) and Michael Conrad join the party, as well. Even though no one actually watched Hill Street Blues, everyone recognizes Conrad as the guy who said “Hey, let’s be careful out there…” at the beginning of the episodes.

Alejandro Rey rounds out the main players as a priest. Rey starred in The Ninth Configuration, The Swarm and a couple of Charles Bronsan movies. Satan’s Triangle is, perhaps, Rey’s greatest role. Not really. I just made that up to sound informed.


Satan’s Triangulation

Satan’s Triangle starts with a boat having a bad day. Its distress call is picked up by the Coast Guard. A helicopter piloted by Conrad is dispatched. Conrad’s character name is Pagnolini, which sounds like a pizza joint or the subject of the joke told by Rorschach in Watchmen.

Conrad can’t take off because his partner, McClure, is late to the party. McClure eventually shows up with the excuse of tying one on the night before with a redhead or blond. He can’t remember which.

Sure, McClure. You’re not a Navy SEAL. You’re ballast in a Coast Guard rescue chopper. The only redheads or blonds interested in you are retrievers because you fill their bowls with Kibbles ‘N’ Bits on a regular basis.

Once McClure and Conrad reach the boat, it looks like the riot zone of Philadelphia sports fans. The boat’s sails are in tatters. A dead body hangs from the mast. Another body sticks out of a hatch like a jack-in-the-box.

McClure lowers himself down to check for survivors. While checking the boat, McClure comes upon a dead man floating in the air, which is one of the most effective what-is-happening moments I have seen in a movie. It’s a simple wire rig but an indelible image.

McClure also discovers Novak huddling among the carnage, perhaps hiding from an obsessed Jimmy Stewart…

Satan’s Triangle

Recovering McClure and Novak goes about as well as white male interviewing at Disney. The two are forced to spend the night on the boat. McClure slips into a sexy sweater that he maybe borrowed from ffolkes, plies Novak with wine, and gets the scoop of what happened on the boat.

A rich guy chartered the boat so he could catch a swordfish. The boat came across a shipwrecked priest and took him aboard. Most of the crew abandoned ship when this happened. Apparently, the boat was in “the devil’s waters” and picking up a priest would “start a battle.”

Sounds reasonable…

Next, a storm hits, the camera lens gets covered by Vaseline and everyone dies.

“It was the devil!” Novak says.


Satan’s Triangle Explained

McClure is enlightened. He doesn’t believe in the devil. He does believe in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, however. This type of cognitive dissonance is common among his people.

McClure proceeds to give a logical explanation for all of the strange events Novak witnessed. Since she is a woman, she accepts all of this problem-solving without an argument.

McClure should have known something was wrong at that moment.

Suffice it to say, Conrad returns to rescue the duo, and an ending happens that makes one wonder if the creators of Smile (2022) saw this movie in the days of their dim, dead youth.


Satan’s Triangular Measurements

While reading about Satan’s Triangle, I came upon a user review somewhere. Perhaps at IMDB. The reviewer related that he saw Satan’s Triangle when the local TV channel decided to run it in the after-school timeslot. The reviewer was subsequently scarred for life.

That is a great watch story, and, really, how Satan’s Triangle would play best. It is essentially a horror-leaning Twilight Zone episode to spook kids and intrigue adults in a smirking kind of way.

Satan’s Triangle is a bit too undeveloped to call a proper movie. It has a three-act structure, but it is so short and saturated with flashbacks that it never generates any forward momentum. It’s more of a mood piece, and it does a mostly effective job in that regard.

Since it is not as well laid out as it could be, perhaps a better name is Satan’s Irregular Polygon. Regardless, it was another amusing dip into the waters of yesterday. Let’s pretend it was an episode of The Twilight Zone and Rod Sterling narrated the opening crawl. For the outro, he might say something like this…

Certain places exist on the map where the borders between good and evil blur. Battles are fought in these no-man-lands between rationality and superstition. For the record, rationality can be wrong, and superstition can be the truth repressed for the fear of its repercussions. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to Satan’s Irregular Polygon…

3 stars

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