HORROR ISLAND (1941)
Directed by George Waggner
Written by Maurice Tombragel, Victor McLeod (screenplay), from the story “Terror of the South Seas” by Alex Gottlieb
Starring Dick Foran, Leo Carrillo, Peggy Moran, Fuzzy Knight, John Eldredge, Lewis Howard, Hobart Cavanaugh, Walter Catlett, Ralf Harolde, Iris Adrian, Emmett Vogan, and Foy Van Dolsen as the Phantom!
HORROR ISLAND…so this is the place Will Farrell talks about all of the time. Oh wait, that’s WHORE ISLAND. Totally different movie.
HORROR ISLAND is a comedic thriller about a charming sea captain and his crew heading to a mysterious island where a phantom in black sets out to scare them to death. Somewhere on the island is buried treasure and everyone wants their cut.
Despite the diabolical name, HORROR ISLAND is a harmless romp that is more lighthearted than terrifying. Much of the first half of the film is setting up the charm of ship captain and notorious scamp Bill Martin (Dick Foran) and his faithful, stuttering swabby Stuff Oliver (Fuzzy Knight) as they try to make a quick buck off of anyone who happens into their seaside store while dodging tax men. It’s heavy on chuckle worthy dialog and slight slapstick antics. When they find half of a treasure map and set off for Bill’s island for high adventure, things get a bit more serious as bodies start to pile up. There is a surprising disregard for human life here as the guests on the island are picked off one by one by a mysterious Phantom. I was surprised how it’s all played for comical effect despite the fact that the death toll rises. Everything is wrapped up in a perfect bow by the end with nary a care for all of those who perished in the process. As long as the film ends with the lead kissing the gal at the end, I guess the mass murder is just swept under the rug, I guess.
Bloodless and only the slight whiff of the macabre, HORROR ISLAND isn’t going to chill anyone’s bones. It’s a good time waster as none of the performances are particularly bad and some of the cinematography is better than average with some fun shadow play and fun with the caped menace known as the Phantom. As far as the horror of it all, this entry into Universal’s Horror Collection comes up lacking.