The horrorless horror island
Bill Martin (Dick Foran) is a wheeler-dealer who hasn’t wheeled very many deals lately. He and his partner-in-crime Stuff Oliver (Fuzzy Knight) are deep in debt. He owes rent on both his boat and his waterfront office. One night he and Stuff save a drowning peg-legged sailor named Tobias Clump (Leo Carillo), AKA “The Skipper”.
The Skipper claims he has a treasure map that belonged to the pirate Sir Henry Morgan. He is convinced that the treasure is hidden in a castle on Morgan Island. The island is owned by Martin. Of course he only has half the map. The other half was stolen by a sinister man in a black cape. Someone The Skipper calls the Phantom. Martin, not one to shy away from a moneymaking opportunity comes up with scheme to advertise the old house on the island as a treasure hunt excursion to a haunted castle. The cost is $50.00 per person.
The motley crew of would-be treasure hunters are Martin, Stuff, The Skipper, an heiress named Wendy Creighton (Peggy Moran), her annoying friend Thurman Coldwater (Leis Howard), a dimwitted police officer Sergeant McGoon (Walter Catlett), a cartographer (map expert) Professor Jasper Quinley (Hobart Cavanaugh), a murderer Rod Grady (Ralf Harolde) and his wife Arlene Grady (Iris Adrian). Also in tow is Martin’s Cousin George (John Eldredge), who had suspiciously shown up and offered $20,000 for the worthless island. Also in the darkened hallways is someone known simply as “The Phantom”.
“Horror Island” was released in 1941 and was directed by George Waggner. It’s a charming little suspense movie. It is not a horror movie. An “Old Dark House” mystery on an island. With shades of “Ten Little Indians” thrown in. A comedy/murder-mystery. At only 61 minutes long its quick paced. There is a bit of action going on all the time. More fun than mystery. With trap doors, hidden passages and sweeping staircases the house adds lots of spooky flavor to this who-done-it romp.
The Carfax Abbey stone staircase seen was originally used in Dracula (1931). Many of the remaining sets were recycled from Tower of London (1939).