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Fer-de-Lance (1974)

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:
Elaine Wedell
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 ...
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 <mmccorry@nb.sympatico.ca>

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Release Date:

18 October 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Death Dive  »

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 »


Commander Kirk: You know Lieutenant Scott.
[Nicholson and Scott acknowledge one another]
Commander Kirk: This is the Master at Arms, Russ Bogan.
Russ Bogan: Lieutenant.
Commander Scott: Russ here is Chief of the Boat, the COB.
Russ Bogan: That means I'm in charge of the bomb.
Commander Kirk: He also happens to be a charter member of the first underwater demolition team. The original frogman. He can help you handle the explosives.
Lieutenant Nicholson: I need help right now, sir. I'm assigned as Weapons Officer, which means I know which page to look up in Knight's Modern Seamanship, and that's all.
See more »


Edited from Ice Station Zebra (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

Snakes on a sub

Before "Snakes on a Plane" and "Snakes on a Train", there was this 1974 made-for-television mid-week suspender – snakes on a submarine (Fer-de-Lance is the name of the sub). When a happy go lucky seaman returns from shore leave with a shaman's gift of live snakes, he sets off a succession of catastrophes that places the stricken sub's surviving crew in peril, and forces reluctant hero Janssen to assume responsibility for an almighty mess, a job he clearly relishes as much as a poke in the eye.

As the sub flounders on the ocean floor, the remaining crew must make repairs to extricate themselves before the oxygen levels dissipate, while silently stalked by the highly toxic stowaways. Director Mayberry takes a rather old-fashioned approach with his limited material, focusing more attention on the salvage efforts than the snake threat which becomes the sub-plot in the latter half. The performances are strictly B-grade all round, and include one of Janssen's more ambivalent characterisations (though this was his trademark) as an uninspired, less-than enthusiastic naval instructor who's reluctantly foist into the captain's seat when all the senior officers are killed off during the initial catastrophe. Hope Lange is similarly propelled into heroine status, with her medical knowledge proving critical to the defensive effort against the marauding reptiles as one-by-one, the survivors are taken out. The movie labours to a mechanical conclusion, and though not without some intellect, the action is far too sporadic and there's little suspense.

It's perhaps no surprise that this largely forgettable TV movie has been resurrected in the wake of the "Snakes on a Plane" popularity, although it's well down the hierarchy of motion picture asps. A strong cast delivers intelligent dialogue, but the one-dimensional, melodramatic treatment sinks not only the submarine, but also the movie.

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