The West Indies island of Portuga exists mainly for sponge diving. But the best area of collection is frequented by a very large manta ray. Nina loses her lover to the creature and is ... See full summary »
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Edward F. Cline
Edward G. Robinson,
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The West Indies island of Portuga exists mainly for sponge diving. But the best area of collection is frequented by a very large manta ray. Nina loses her lover to the creature and is comforted by a newly arrived minister, who seems very interested in an old poster offering a reward for a convict recently escaped from nearby Devil's Island. More deaths attributed to the sea bat follow before Nina resolves her feelings for her comforter. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
Half-Maugham, half-Melville and all hooey, this tropical potboiler is chock full of sin and salvation, with a giant sting ray tossed in as -- I kid you not -- a romantic deus ex machina.
The setting is a West Indies island where a bunch of grimy sponge divers lust after barefoot temptress Raquel Torres, who only has eyes for the beautiful (and, with his thick Swedish accent, virtually unintelligible) Nils Asther. But when he dies in the clutches of the title monster villain, she turns her back on God and offers herself as reward to the man who destroys the beast. It's a decision she quickly comes to regret, and as the body count increases, the guilt-ridden Raquel flails her arms and pounds her breasts with the frenzy of a silent movie diva.
As if this plot weren't febrile enough, Torres begins falling for newly arrived man of the cloth Charles Bickford, who does his damnedest to resist her overtures since he's actually an escaped convict from Devil's Island.
This awesomely wacky nonsense was concocted by the radical left-wing screenwriter John Howard Lawson without a hint of the political agitprop that infused his later screen work. The film, however, is not without interest: the camera work by Ira Morgan is sensuous and inventive (particularly when underwater) and the cast of scurvy Island rats is populated with such compelling character types as John Miljan (in a departure from his usual urban smoothie), Boris Karloff (as the glowering Corsican), and silent film veterans Gibson Gowland and Mack Swain.
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