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  Horror Island Treasure Hunters
Year: 1941
Director: George Waggner
Stars: Dick Foran, Leo Carrillo, Peggy Moran, Fuzzy Knight, John Eldredge, Lewis Howard, Hobart Cavanagh, Walter Catlett, Ralf Harold, Iris Adrian, Foy Van Dolsen, Emmett Vogan
Genre: Horror, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: A sailor, Tobias Clump (Leo Carrillo) is walking by the docks at night when a policeman notices him trying the door of the local surveyor's and confronts him. Clump makes his excuses and heads off, as meanwhile Bill Martin (Dick Foran) is on his boat drawing up his latest moneymaking scheme with his sceptical second-in-command Stuff (Fuzzy Knight), but suddenly they are alarmed by the sound of a man flailing around in the water outside and rush to assist. Dragging him out, he thanks them - it is Clump, who has been assaulted by a mystery man he believes was after his map. Luckily, he still has the other half of it, and when he mentions hidden treasure on the island it depicts, Bill is immediately interested...

Not only is there a character in the credits of this called "The Stranger", but there's one called "The Phantom" as well, which should offer you some idea of the type of movie you were dealing with here. Yes, it was a mystery caper, lighthearted in spite of the fact that people die during the running time, and pretty obviously a film rushed into production - and into release - as the bottom half of a double bill. It really was not designed to be much recalled even months after its initial opening, but sometimes these items of ephemera prove to have legs, and Horror Island is still available for viewing today, mainly by fans of this type of disposable entertainment which was only vaguely distinguishable from countless others.

In spite of its title, Horror Island isn't really a horror film, in fact it's almost a comedy thriller, or it would be if there has been more jokes in it. Still, there's a breeziness to the plot that fits the bill for undemanding watching, although it does take about a third of an hour-long film for the characters to reach the island of the title, as there's an awful lot of setting up to be done which takes the form of a number of introductions. They spend so much time allowing us to get to know these tourists who are off to the island, where Bill has promised them an enjoyable evening of scares for their entertainment that it's surprising that the film is so offhand about killing them off, as when the murders starts nobody is too distraught.

Too busy worrying about their own self-preservation I expect, but there's not anybody here who comes across as particularly terrible as a person until the big reveal of who the baddie is in the closing stages. In the run up to that, there just had to be an old dark house on the island, didn't there? So once our cast is assembled, including as they do the surveyor, Professor Quinley (Hobart Cavanagh), a shifty and unfriendly couple plus the love interest for Bill, Wendy Creighton (Peggy Moran) with her luckless gentleman friend, it's time for some creeping about, secret passages and those aforementioned murders. This is perfectly fine, but with something with such a production line feel about it as this has it's hard to get too excited. The supposed scares, ranging from that Phantom chap skulking about to a suit of armour that fires off arrows from a crossbow, are amusing enough, the actors are willing and able, but this is unlikely to stay in the mind too long.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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