Not to be confused with the 2012 Halle Berry film of the same name, this Dark Tide was made in 1994. Written by Sam Bernard and Robert L. Levy, and directed by Luca Bercovici, this film stars Brigitte Bako as Andi (no last names are given or listed in the credits for any of the characters in this film). She arrives on a rural Island someone in the Philippines, to join her husband Tim (Chris Sarandon), who has been there on mission as a sea-snake hunter. There are these special kind of sea snakes in this area, who have deadly venom which, if bitten, could kill a human within 8 minutes. But researchers back home believe that this venom could be used for various medical treatments, including for hemophilia and open heart surgery, and are willing to pay $5,000 and ounce. So everyday Tim goes diving to catch those snake and drain their venom, and Andi is planning to help him.
Even though they almost immediately sneak off to have sex upon being reunited, a voice over by Andi reveals that all is not as well between them as it seems. Tim is much older than her (it’s not explicitly stated, but Sarandon is 25 years older than Bako) and Andi feels like she’s always following his lead. There is also some reference to him having previously saved her life in some kind of diving accident, which is what lead to them getting together, and she sometimes wonders if she’s with him because she really wants to be or just out of gratitude. It’s an interesting facet to their characters, which partially explains what ends up happening.
Richard Tyson plays a local villager named Dak. It’s explained that his father was a U.S. Marine who knocked up his mother while on the island and then left her to go back to America, which at least explains why Dak is the only “White” guy in the town (although he speaks slowly with an odd accent, as if English isn’t his natural language). Dak owns and captains the boat that Tim has hired to take him out to dive. Rez Cortez plays Daz’ short and very sleazy-looking partner Stosh. From the moment she steps off the first boat, it seems like every man on the Island is attracted to Andi, and Dak is no exception. We see him secretly watching as she and Tim make love that first day. Later one night at a local club, Andi gets on the dance floor and starts seductively dancing for the crowd, and then pulling a local woman named Lia (Adriana Agcaoili) onto the dancefloor with her to dance. Tim is not particularly happy with Andi’s behavior.
There are some beautifully shot underwater scenes of Tim and Andi diving together. But then soon Tim hits a dry spell, as for three days straight he dives all day without finding any snakes. This makes him frustrated and he and Andi fight. One day while he continues diving, Andi decides to skip it and go tour the island herself. She runs into Dak, who says he had some family stuff to take care of that day, which is why he’s not with Tim either, and he offers to take her around the island. She agrees, and it takes her to some special cave with a lake and candles and convinces Andi to join him skinny dipping. And this leads to sex.
Seriously, this scene all by itself has helped elevate this film to cult status. Despite being a “mainstream” film, it outshines most love scenes in softcore films.
But it appears that this little dalliance only served to make Andi realize how much she does love Tim after all, and wants to commit to her marriage to him. So the next day while they’re all back on the boat, Andi turns Dak down when he tries to proposition her again. And this is where the trouble starts, as Dak is not the kind of guy who takes rejection easily. Just as things are going good, as Tim finally catches another snake, Dak arranges an “accident” which leads to Tim getting bit. Thankfully they have antidote available, but Tim remains weak and bedridden until he fully recovers. That night, while Tim is sleeping, Dak sneaks into their house and grabs Andi and rapes her, threatening to go upstairs and cut Tim’s throat if she resists. Thankfully the scene is short and not graphic, as it’s in the dark so we don’t really see much. The next day, Andi needs to continue diving for snakes herself, since Tim can’t. She tries to find other boat owners to take her out, but none of them will, so she has to hire Dak and Stosh again. And then after the diving is finished, Dak rapes her again, even though she tried to fight him off with a knife. Again, we don’t actually see the rape happen.
That night while taking a bath, one of the venomous snakes appears in the tub with her (presumably released by Dak, in retaliation for her attempted knife attack earlier), and the camera lingers across Bako’s nude body as the snake slithers up her front to her neck. She freezes, but screams in terror, as Tim wakes up and saves her in the nick of time.
Although now awake, Tim is temporarily confined to a wheelchair as he continues to recover. So Andi has to continue diving with Dak and Stosh. The next day she manages to keep Dak away from her on the boat. But after they get back on land, Dak and Stosh chase her around the Island, until they corner her in a remote area and, in a pretty horrifying scene, Dak and Stosh tie her to a fence so that Stosh can rape her.
At this point Andi confesses to Tim about everything that’s happened, and Tim is of course enraged and wants to kill Dak and Stosh, but Andi convinces him that it will be safer for them to leave the Island and go home, which they prepare to do. But we see Dak, and Stosh and two his friends celebrate the birthday of Dak’s younger brother Pauli (Romano Vasquez). As a “gift” to make him a man (in their eyes), they try to get him to rape Lia, with the 4 mean holding her down on a table for him. But Pauli refuses, he doesn’t want to force her. Dak gets angry and smacks Pauli, accidentally killing him as he falls to the ground and hits his head. Dak blames Lia for his brother’s death, and they chase her back to where Andi and Tim are staying, as she seeks shelter with them.
And this is the big final act of the film. It’s nighttime, with Dak and his men terrorizing Andi, Tim, and Lia, trying to break into the house to kill them all. I won’t spoil any more of this film, I’ll let you watch it to see how it all turns out.
I enjoy this film for what it is. Brigitte in her first starring film role, carries the film very well. She plays Andi as equally seductive and vulnerable, depending on the circumstances, and then her final transformation in the end, when she decided to fight back, is even more impressive. Richard Tyson also stand out in his role. Initially, he acts like he has a harmless little crush on Andi. And when she turns him down after they’d already had sex, you can see that he feels hurt and confused by her (you could argue that she did lead him on). But then you lose all sympathy for his character as he quickly turns violent and threatening. And if you saw him in his other cult classic film, Three O’Clock High, you know how menacing he can look.
This is a dramatic and suspenseful film, with a touch of eroticism. I enjoyed it. Chacebook rating: 4 STARS