Snakes on board an American sub set off a chain of events that ultimately causes the boat to sink to the bottom of the ocean. The surviving crew must devise a rescue plan to free themselves and raise the sub.


(as Russel Mayberry)




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Cast overview, first billed only:
Russ Bogan
Elaine Wedell
Joe Voit
Commander Kirk
Charles Robinson ...
Lieutenant Nicholson (as Charles Knox Robinson)
Lieutenant Whitehead
Sherry Boucher ...
Liz McCord
Masai Ikeda
William Mims ...
Mayne Bradley
Shizuko Hoshi ...
Suan Kuroda
Richard LePore ...
Chief Hughes
Sandra Ego ...
Felipe Turich ...


An American submarine leaves Tierra Del Fuego, and one of its crew has secretly brought aboard a container full of poisonous fer-de-lance snakes which escape storage and bite key personnel on the submarine, causing an accident that cripples the vehicle so that it drops to the bottom of the Southern Ocean. Worse still, the snakes are still at large on the submarine and complicate the efforts of the crew to escape the sunken vessel. Written by Kevin McCorry <>

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Release Date:

18 October 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Agonia ton vython  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was the third time David Janssen and Ivan Dixon would appear together on TV, seven years after The Fugitive: Dossier on a Diplomat (1967) and ten years after The Fugitive: Escape into Black (1964). See more »


Hope Lange's character is listed as Elaine Wedell in the cast list, but in the movie she says her name is Eileen. See more »


Russ Bogan: This goes for the memory of those that have died, for us. I am the resurrection, and the life, sayeth the Lord. And he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Amen.
See more »


Edited from Ice Station Zebra (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

suspenseful sub drama
19 November 2015 | by See all my reviews

The Navy nuclear sub Fer de Lance is in South America to pick up an international team of SeaLab scientists conducting pressure research. This includes the science support, medical research and diving teams. Meanwhile, one of the sailors on shore leave buys a basket full of poisonous fer-de-lance snakes to bring back on board as souvenirs. Of course the snakes escape and start biting people, and while that doesn't seem to kill them, they start hemorrhaging and go into shock. One of the stricken crew is manning the trim system and the other is at the helm and so the sub goes into a quick dive to the bottom of the ocean floor.

There's a lot that I like about this movie, such as the claustrophobic feel of it taking place in a Navy sub. But most of all, I like the intelligent dialogue, even the parts that I didn't understand. I enjoy all the Navy speak. Drifting at a depth of 290 feet, they want to bring it up to 190, so they "blow the main ballast." But they rise too high, so then the order is to "flood her back down" to 190. Unfortunately, that's when the crew members really start getting sick and the uncontrolled descent happens. With the senior officers in the torpedo room checking on the first two crew members who were discovered unconscious, they're away from the control room (the conn) when the sub starts to nosedive. Lieutenant Whitehead was left in charge and he's not making good decisions. The Chief of the Boat (the COB), though lower in the chain of command, is the most experienced sailor on board and he tells the lieutenant what to do instead. "Back full, get the stern down." "Redline it." "Flood her just enough to take hold." "We're slowing down, now blow everything." It might have worked, except the helmsman falls unconscious and instead of surfacing they go into a deep dive. End result: the sub is wedged in by rocks, the snakes are still on the loose, and the oxygen will run out in 12 hours.

The crash is pretty exciting. The surviving crew and passengers work together on rescuing the sub. This movie is a suspenseful drama about extricating the sub off the ocean floor and less about the snakes. The Weapons Officer, Lieutenant Nicholson, is competent but young and looks to the COB for advice. COB says, "You take the conn." The lieutenant replies, "I've got five years in, mostly shore duty. You're the COB, Russ, tell me what to do." Lots of snappy dialogue. The Italian and Japanese divers get in on the action too. The doctor helps with the scuba tank air mixture and decompression procedures.

I paid closer attention on my second viewing because I didn't want to miss anything that was said. Yes, I've seen this movie more than once. I'll admit, the premise is kind of laughable, but it really grew on me. David Janssen plays Russ Bogan, the COB. He looks the part – he never looks like he's acting. He's an effective leader and the exchanges he has with the others are sharp. Ivan Dixon is also very good. And Richard LaPore too. All are very low key and solid, giving the impression that aside from the knucklehead who brought the snakes on board, this is a very professional crew.

I found it to be an absolutely first-rate, really enjoyable movie.

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