Down-on-his luck entrepreneur Bill Martin and sidekick Stuff Oliver try to stay one step in front of creditors in their seedy waterfront office when they meet "The Captain," an idiosyncratic peg-legged old sailor. The Captain is convinced that the treasure of pirate Sir Henry Morgan is hidden somewhere in a castle on an offshore island recently inherited by Martin. His proof is a treasure map, half of which has been stolen by a mysterious Phantom who lurks in the shadows waiting for an opportunity to steal the other half. Sensing a moneymaking opportunity, Bill tries to recruit customers willing to pay $50 apiece for a "treasure hunt" outing to the "haunted" island. Among those signing up are heiress Wendy Creighton and her bored, ineffectual boy friend, a dimwitted police sergeant, a professor whose expertise is old maps, a wanted murderer and his moll, and Bill's cousin George, who has recently offered $20,000 to buy the supposedly worthless island. They all get more than the few ... Written by
Production wrapped late in the evening of March 15, 1941. Thanks to journeyman editor Otto Ludwig cutting the picture during production, with scoring swiped from earlier Universal pictures (including The Invisible Man Returns (1940)), allowed the picture to be released just 13 days later. See more »
Upon arriving at the Island Castle, the group of treasure seekers walk from the foyer to the study. A very visible crew member is in frame holding a spotlight on lead man Dick Foran. As the camera pans right, the crew member turns and walks out of frame. See more »
Horror Island was obviously made on a shoestring budget to accompany some bigger Universal film. I wasn't surprised it took only twelve days to shoot. In spite of this, however, Horror Island is an entertaining little flick that never really has time to get boring. The first half of the film is the best; and this is mostly thanks to Dick Foran. He plays a 'wheeling and dealing' businessman who has a lot of creditors on his back. This leads him to begin offering trips to a haunted island where his punters can look for buried treasure. After getting together a party of people through various means, they set off to the island...and the film goes downhill from there. There's some subplot about a mysterious phantom wanting the treasure for himself; but it seems like the writer didn't really know what to do once we get to the main bulk of the film and a lot of the early momentum is lost. Still, the film is always at least amusing and at only sixty minutes, there's not enough time for it to outstay its welcome. The whole thing is rather jokey and silly and I'm not surprised it hasn't endured as one of Universal's classics. Still, it's worth a look if you have an hour to spare.
5 of 10 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?