Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

VOODOO ISLAND


VOODOO ISLAND (1957). Director: Reginald Le Borg.

TV host Phillip Knight (Boris Karloff) who debunks the supernatural, is asked to travel to a certain island where a group of people who were planning to build a hotel resort disappeared. Only one man came back, Mitchell (Glenn Dixon, pictured), and he's been in a trance-like state of shock ever since. Knight agrees to go to the island, along with Barney Finch (Murvyn Vye) who works for the hotel concern; Sarah Adams (Beverly Tyler), Knight's gal Friday; and Claire Winter (Jean Engstrom), a designer who seems to have a yen for Adams. [There are a few heavy-handed hints to her being a lesbian.] Also traveling to the island are Martin Schulyer (the inimitable Elisha Cook), who owns a boat, and Matthew Gunn (Rhodes Reason), his pilot. On the island the group encounters one foot-long spider-crab, but the main problem appears to be carnivorous plants. There are rubber fronds that wrap themselves (quite unconvincingly) around their victims, as well as club-like plants that try to thwaaap down and knock out their unwilling human meals. One scene has a small native girl being swallowed up and consumed by another killer plant that ensnares anyone who steps upon it. There are also voodoo dolls, witch doctors, and the like. Richard H. Landau's script makes a real attempt at presenting interesting characters with back stories, although those stories tend to the cliched. Karloff gives a game performance; the others are at least adequate. Rhodes Reason is the brother of Rex Reason, who starred in This Island Earth; Rhodes is not a bad actor. Adam West of Batman fame has a small part as a weather station radio operator. The main problem with Voodoo Island is that it makes no real attempt to create a scary atmosphere or sense of fear and wonder over its sinister setting.

Verdict: A perfect triple bill with Womaneater and From Hell It Came. **1/2.

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