We may never know the truth about the dark forces (or scientific facts) that lurk beyond the Bermuda Triangle, that strange airplane-eating zone of weirdness. But at least pop culture has given us some possible answers. Here are 10 occasions when pop culture ventured into the Bermuda Triangle.
The Bermuda Triangle — and all its plane-gobbling, ship-sinking mysteries — got a few shoutouts when Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 went missing earlier this year. That plane wasn’t anywhere near the fabled chunk of sea between Florida, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda, but its disappearance (especially in this era of constant high-tech surveillance) was spooky enough to conjure talk of time-space portals, aliens, and other Twilight Zone-ish explanations.
And the Triangle made headlines again just this week, when scientists exploring a massive Siberian sinkhole suggested it may have formed when methane ice melted into gas, causing the earth around it to collapse. A similar theory involving these so-called methane hydrates (bubbling from under the sea, shooting into the air, what have you) is often bandied about by Triangle enthusiasts.
But the Triangle itself has become more of a nostalgic reference point than an active fascination for most people. It first came into the mainstream conscience in the 1950s and 1960s, when a handful of journalists began looking into the 1945 disappearance of Flight 19, in which five Navy bombers left Florida on a training mission and never returned. (A few other Triangle incidents: the 1918 loss of theUSS Cyclops; the 1948 loss of a San Juan-to-Miami bound DC-3 airliner; an odd 1963 in-air collision; the 1955 discovery of an eerily abandoned yacht.)
Its peak popularity came after the 1974 publication of Charles Berlitz’s book The Bermuda Triangle — “the Original #1 Shockwave Bestseller!” — and subsequent film. Soon, everyone’s favorite mystery of the unknown was inspiring multiple films and TV shows, songs, a Scooby-Doo episode, an Atari video game, and a board game.
Journey along, as we explore the Bermuda Triangle’s most shining pop-cult moments. Return passage not guaranteed, but please contribute your own favorites in the comments!
1) Fleetwood Mac’s “Bermuda Triangle” (1974)
From Heroes are Hard to Find, the band’s ninth album and its last before the line-up change (two words: Nicks, Buckingham) that would launch the group into superstardom. This slinky track’s lyrics stop just short of “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”-eque literalism, but they come pretty close:
“I guess you’ve heard about the Bermuda Triangle/There’s something going on/Nobody seems to know just what it is/And the Air Force won’t let on/It might be a hole, down in the ocean/Yeah, or a fog that won’t let go/It might be some crazy people talking/Or somebody that we ought to know.”
2) Barry Manilow’s “Bermuda Triangle” (1980)
A hit in Europe, this novelty calypso jam sounds suspiciously like the crooner’s 1978 smash “Copacabana.” The lesson it contains: If you go to the Bermuda Triangle with your lady, she might “disappear”…with another dude! Damn you Bermuda Triangle!
3) Satan’s Triangle (1975)
This made-for-ABC TV movie stars Kim Novak as the sole survivor found aboard a spooky ship made even spookier by its location (see: title). Veteran actor Doug McClure plays the US Coast Guardsman who helicopters in to rescue her, and a horror movie at sea (wish there were more of those!) ensues. It might not sound like much, but this one’s got a cult following, due to its memorably freaky ending.
4)Airport ’77 (1977)
Dovetailing nicely with the 1970s disaster-movie trend is the third and possibly campiest (though one could make a case for part four: The Concorde … Airport ’79) film in the Airport series. A glorious cast (Jimmy Stewart in one of his last roles, Jack Lemmon, Christopher Lee, Joseph Cotten, Olivia de Havilland, Brenda Vaccaro, the immortal George Kennedy) meets a hilariously luxurious plane stuffed with valuable artwork meets a hijacking attempt that’s foiled by… guess which cursed geographical airspace over the Atlantic?
5) Bermuda Triangle Game (Milton Bradley, 1976)
The tag line: “Sinister Mystery Cloud Swallows Ships.” Players move plastic ships across the board as the planchette-like fog cloud “HOVERS —WEAVES and SWEEPS,” doing its best to foul up everyone’s voyage. Worth owning just for the incredible retro box and game art!
6) Bermuda Triangle game for Atari 2600 (Data Age, 1982)
Beneath the Bermuda Triangle lies a lost city filled with treasures that you and your trusty mini-sub must gather and bring to the surface. But! Beware the giant squid, the hungry shark, explosives, pesky rival ship, and other underwater menaces that’ll give your joystick a major workout.
7) Scooby-Doo in “A Creepy Tangle in the Bermuda Triangle” (1978)
During a hurricane in the Triangle, a plane is slurped up by a UFO. Below, a boat-tripping Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy (his first giant sandwich, “like, a teensy-weensy snack to fight off seasickness!” is prepared two minutes in), and Scooby also encounter the storm. Fortunately, a nearby deserted (OR IS IT?) island offers shelter — and a mystery — for everyone’s favorite meddling kids. High points include scuba-diving skeleton men, a hidden lair inside a mountain, and the sight of Scooby-Doo being shot out of a submarine like a torpedo. Jeepers! Jinkies! Zoiks!
8) Wonder Woman in “The Bermuda Triangle Crisis” (1977)
No UFOs here; the crisis is that Diana Prince, clad in retro resort chic to die for (those headscarves! Those oversized glasses!), has to defend Paradise Island from becoming a testing ground for nukes.
But it’s not all political: As Wonder Woman, she rocks a rad wetsuit worthy of her superheroic fashion sense.
9) In Search Of…The Bermuda Triangle (1977)
Turtleneck-clad host with the most Leonard Nimoy leads an investigation into the “danger zone for ships and planes.” Features interviews with eyewitnesses and re-enactments on both land and sea, and the suggestion that the Bermuda Triangle might serve as an interplanetary communications center.
10) The Devil’s Triangle (1974) and Mystery in the Bermuda Triangle (1979)
The earlier film is a documentary narrated in the velvet purr of Vincent Price and scored by King Crimson. The later film stars lucha libre gods Santos, Blue Demon, and Mil Mascaras. Neither is a masterpiece, but the fact that both exist is testament to the Bermuda Triangle’s all-encompassing hold on pop culture at the time. Also: Would make an A+ double-feature to background your next “Mysteries of the Unknown” theme party.
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