Horror Island / Man Made Monster

Movie Information

In Brief: The movie year of 1941 was probably the best one that director George Waggner — a solid craftsman, if not a particularly inspired one — ever had. In rapid succession, he knocked out Horror Island, Man Made Monster and The Wolf Man. There’s no doubt that the last in the list is his best known, but, in all honesty, I’ll take Man Made Monster over it any day of the week. That, of course, leaves Horror Island the odd film out. It always tends to get lost in the shuffle, and that’s too bad, because this little 60-minute thriller is solid and a lot of fun. (It may be more fun than The Wolf Man.) Its “problem” is that it’s really more a hybrid of a mystery and the “old dark house” movie (only in this case it’s an old dark castle, but it amounts to much the same thing). There’s no supernatural or fantastic element, though there is a mysterious caped figure called “The Phantom” (played by an obscure actor with the great name of Foy Van Dolsen). Atmosphere makes up for much, as does the Hans Salter score, a clever script with bright dialogue, and a first-rate cast. The leads are the very pleasant Dick Foran and Peggy Moran, who’d already teamed up for The Mummy’s Hand (1940). The great Leo Carrillo is on hand as a peg-legged seafaring man with a treasure map. The rest of the cast couldn’t be better: Fuzzy Knight, Walter Catlett, Lewis Howard (doing a reprise of his uber-lazy role from the 1939 Deanna Durbin movie First Love), Iris Adrian (“Buncha nitwits — got nothin’ else to do but run around and play games!”) and Hobart Cavanaugh. Really, what’s not to like?
Genre: Horror Mystery
Director: George Waggner
Starring: Dick Foran, Peggy Moran, Leo Carrillo/Lionel Atwill, Lon Chaney Jr., Anne Nagel
Rated: NR

The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Horror Island and Man Made Monster Thursday, March 31, at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville, hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Scott Douglas.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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