DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

UNKNOWN ISLAND (director: Jack Bernhard; screenwriters: Jack Harvey/Robert T. Shannon/story by Robert T. Shannon; cinematographer: Fred Jackman Jr,; editor: Harry Gerstad; music:  Ralph Stanley; cast: Virginia Grey (Carole Lane), Philip Reed (Ted Osbourne), Richard Denning (John Fairbanks), Barton MacLane (Captain Tarnowski), Dick Wessel (Sanderson), Daniel White (Crewman Edwards), Philip Nazir (Crewman Golub), Ray Corrigan (Monster); Runtime: 71; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Albert J. Cohn; Adventures Unlimited Media; 1948)

"The sci-fi film provides only risible scares with its ineffective special effects and further irritates with a dull adventure story that lacks much of an appeal."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A low-budget fantasy 'lost world' film (think of the Lost World film of 1925 as the genre originator and the 1933 King Kong as the gold standard in such films) that takes us to an uncharted island on the South Seas, where dinosaurs and other giant prehistoric creatures roam freely and are engaged in survival of the fittest activities. Under the weak direction of Jack Bernhard ("Appointment with Murder"/"Search for Danger"/"Alaska Patrol") the sci-fi film provides only risible scares with its ineffective special effects and further irritates with a dull adventure story that lacks much of an appeal. Maybe it works for some as a campy horror pic or as one of those enjoyable bad films. The story is by Robert T. Shannon, who wrote the weak script with Jack Harvey. The name cast is wasted in such nonsense.

The effete Ted Osborne (Philip Reed), a Navy pilot during the war and now a struggling photographer, who fancies himself a scientist, convinces his socialite fiancee Carol (Virginia Grey) to finance an expedition to an uncharted South Pacific island he flew over during the war and spotted dinosaurs without ever reporting it. Thinking of coming back here after the war and taking photographs, Ted greedily hopes to become rich and famous and reward Carole for backing him with marriage.

In a seedy Singapore bar Ted hires the ruffian boozer Captain Tarnowski (Barton MacLane) to take him and Carole to the island. At the island the gruff bully Tarnowski comes down with 'jungle fever' (malaria) but won't leave the island without bringing home a live dinosaur, which he imagines will make him a rich and famous man. When Ted turns out to be more interested in his photographs than in Carole, she ditches him for the ship's alcoholic recovering passenger, a former American marine John Fairbanks (Richard Denning), who was stranded on this strange island during the war and escaped while his entire marine squad members were mauled to death by the man-eating giant creatures. No one believed his tales, as they thought he was just a crazy person. Thereby the traumatized vet became a drunk. John was forced to join this expedition when Tarnowski remembered his stories and thought he would be useful on the island.

After Ted gets his valuable dinosaur photos, the panicky native crew members steal the large row boat docked at the shore and take it back to the big boat moored past the coastline reefs. But they all die when their boat runs into a reef. The tension mounts to see if this disagreeable group of adventurers will get off the island and survive. Unfortunately it was hard to care what happened to anyone, as it was difficult to tell if the humans were more human than the monsters. The cheesy film was made by Film Classics. That defunct company never made a film that was decent, but they gave us a steady supply of gross films like this one and White Savage.

REVIEWED ON 9/25/2014       GRADE: C

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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