Monday, October 18, 2010

Three Underrated Movies: Horror Island

If there had been a Great Dane in Horror Island, Universal could have sued the pants of Scooby-Doo.

HI is a typical low budget "B" picture of a double bill in which the "A" picture was almost equally low budget (and almost equally underrated) Man Made Monster. But "B" does not always equal bad. HI is an Old Dark House Movie that's breezy, fun, and fast paced. Dick Foran and Fuzzy Knight, who often played hero and sidekick in westerns, put on sailors uniforms here. Foran's character, Bill Martin, is down on his luck and about to lose his boat when an odd stranger (the colorful Leo Carillio) stumbles upon him and claims to have a treasure map leading to gold on an abandoned island castle Martin's been stuck with via inheritance. Martin's not sure about the treasure, but it gives him an idea to host a treasure hunt in the "haunted" castle at $50 a head. Martin and his pal Stuff (Knight) rig the place with spooky devices, but find a lot of unexpected scares along the way, not to mention bodies.

Sometimes a picture just knows what's it's doing. Almost half the running time is spent getting to the castle, but since it clocks at 60 minutes, you won't have to fidget. Nobody you really like buys it.

It's just a very fun caper. This is what I'd show someone who wanted to know where Scooby-Doo came from.

If only they had cast Rondo Hatton as the Phantom...

Oh, yeah. This movie was shot in an awful hurry, resulting in a single outrageous blooper. When Foran leads the guests into the castle, a crew member with a spotlight on Foran appears very prominently on screen before walking off without he or the cameraman ever noticing what happened.


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