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Horror Island

USA 1941
produced by
Ben Pivar for Universal
directed by George Waggner
starring Dick Foran, Leo Carrillo, Peggy Moran, Fuzzy Knight, John Eldredge, Lewis Howard, Hobart Cavanaugh, Walter Catlett, Ralf Harolde, Iris Adrian, Foy Van Dolsen, Emmett Vogan
screenplay by Victor McLeod, Maurice Tombragel, based on the story Terror of the South Seas by Alex Gottlieb, musical direction by Hans J. Salter

Universal horror cycle

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Down-on-his-luck captain Bill Martin (Dick Foran) and his first mate Stuff (Fuzzy Knight) are paid a visit by a one-legged sailor, Clump (Leo Carrillo), who wants to persuade them to join him on a treasure hunt on Martin's own island - the island and the creepy castle on it being pretty much his only possession. There is a twist though: A black-hooded figure called the Phantom (Foy Van Dolsen) is after Clump's treasure map.

Martin and Clump bring the treasure map to a local professor (Hobart Cavanaugh), who exposes it as a hoax though. Still, the whole affair gives Martin an idea: Why not turn his island and the castle into a tourist attraction offering fake treasure hunts.

Soon enough, Martin has a boat full of tourists to take to the island, including the professor, inexplicably, a woman who will eventually become his girlfriend (Peggy Moran), a gangster (Ralf Harolde) and his moll (Iris Adrian), an inefficient lawman (Walter Catlett) and the like. Stuff is also there to provide a few scares for the guests ... but somehow the Phantom has also made it to the island and is threatening some of them as well - and then the dying starts. People are murdered one by one, and whoever did it is writing down the number of those still alive on a panel in the living room in chalk. Of course, everybody blames the Phantom, but then the Phantom dies in a death trap he simply couldn't have set up himself.

During all of this, Clump continues to look for his treasure, because he still believes his map is genuine, but eventually he arrives at a dead end ... which is when the killer reveals himself to be the professor, who told Clump and Martin the map was a fake only to throw everybody off the scent - but now with the treasure in arm's reach but unreachable without his assistance, he had to come out into the open ... and soon walks into a trap that those who have hidden the treasure in the first place have set up.

With the professor and killer out of the way, Clump and Martin unearth the treasure - and find it to be nothing but a coffin containing a skeleton. Rather a disappointment, actually - but to end the film on a happy note, in the last scene, Martin's island is bought by the ministry of defense to build a naval base, and Martin's financial worries are over ...


The title of this film might be slightly misleading, because instead of a maritime horror film we get an old-dark-house-style murder mystery. Buit that said, Horror Island is actually pretty entertaining, it's light-footed in approach, finds the right balance between thriller and comedy, gets the creepy atmosphere just right, and features a not great but well-enough ensemble cast to carry the film. Sure, the whole thing is by no means a genre classic, but it's entertaining nevertheless.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD