“Ah you’ve heard about me hah?” “No, but I probably will, from you.”
A bar in Singapore. Ted Osborne (Phillip Reed) and his fiancée Carole (Virginia Grey) are looking for a charter to an island supposedly inhabited by dinosaurs. They hire Captain Tarnowski (Barton MacLane) and his first mate Sanderson (Dick Wessel). Osborne relates a story about flying over an island that had dinosaurs roaming on it. He took a picture of a T-Rex that he shows to Tarnowski. The captain agrees to take them there. He hires a friend of his, John Fairbanks (Richard Denning). Fairbanks had previously been on the island with some friends. He was the only survivor. Since Fairbanks had become an alcoholic since then no one believed him about the dinosaurs.
They head in the direction of French Polynesia. During the voyage Fairbanks becomes attracted to Carole. So does Tarnowski. The ship travels for weeks until they find the island. From the boat they can see Brontosauruses. Once they land they set up camp. While exploring various parts of the island they find other dinosaurs roaming around. One man is attacked while trying to get water. Osborne is busy taking pictures of dinosaurs while Tarnowski and Fairbanks keep drooling over Carole.
Carole convinces Osborne to leave the island, however, Tarnowski refuses. He wants to capture one of the monsters alive. The crew is petrified. Tarnowski threatens to shoot anyone who tries to leave the island. The landing party comes across a flat area where a bunch of carnivores are fighting. Sanderson, the first mate gets into a fight with Tarnowski. One of the crew throws a knife aiming for Tarnowski and accidentally kills Sanderson. Tarnowski shoots the crew member when he tries to flee. Tarnowski gets a jungle fever and then gets drunk. He orders the crew to set up a fire barrier. He accidentally sets fire to the camp when the crew tries to steal the row boat. The row boat gets caught in an undertow and the crewmates drown. Meanwhile the camp burns down all their supplies. The remaining landing party must try to build a raft to get back to the ship; that is if they survive long enough.
“Unknown Island” was released in 1948 and was directed by Jack Bernhard. Dinosaur movies are my favorite. There are lots of old movies that have dinosaurs where they are not exactly anatomically correct. Even so, I’m OK with a lame dinosaur as long as you give it a good try, and in 1948, a good try is all you can hope for.
This one has guys in rubber suits that are sorta T-Rex looking, Brontosaurus type things on wheels that are shown from a distance so they could be any size, with heads that go up and down, and a guy in a hairy suit that is, I believe, suppose to be some kind of giant sloth. Of course it doesn’t look like a sloth, or move like a sloth, or sound like a sloth so I’m not really sure why it’s called a sloth.
There’s quite a bit of nothing going on here. There’s not much of a plot, the guys are lusting after the only woman and the crew members are scared to death they are going to get eaten. Most of the action is guys beating each other up, usually over the woman. The dinosaurs are lame, but they’re still the best part. It’s stupid fun. I thought it was a riot.
The director was filming in the Palm Springs desert when one of the guys in the dinosaur suits passed out. Since the dinosaur was supposedly being shot with hand grenades by the landing party at the time, the director left the footage in.