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Unknown Island


Title: Unknown Island
Year Of Release: 1948
Running Time: 72 minutes
DVD Released By: Image Entertainment
Directed By: Jack Bernhard
Writing Credits: Robert T. Shannon (story), Robert T. Shannon and Jack Harvey (screenplay)

Starring: Richard Denning, Virginia Grey, Barton MacLane, Philip Reed
Taglines:
1. It's out of this world - from the world of 60,000,000 years ago!
2. So spectacular - it took one year to produce! See man's first attempt to destroy monstrous beasts!
3. See pre-historic denizens that defy the imagination!
Alternate Titles:
None Found

Review Date: 8.21.07 (updated 1.1.10)

Shadow's Title: "Overblown Island"

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Unknown Island

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Unknown Island

Characters
Ted Osborne – A Navy flyer during WWII. While on a scouting mission, he was blown off course by a typhoon and discovered an uncharted island crawling with dinosaurs. Now three years after the war, he is trying to return to that island and snap photos of everything he saw.
Carole Lane – Ted’s fiancée. I don’t know how they met or what kind of men she dated before Ted came along, but they must have been total wastes of skin for her to consider Ted a step in the right direction. She apparently comes from a wealthy family, as she's financing Ted's trip.
Captain Tarnowski – He owns and runs the S.S. Pelican, the tramp freighter Ted hires for transportation. He's a heavy drinker and smoker, consuming more alcohol and tobacco than entire counties. He's also a gambler, so he should be betting on what craps out on him first: his liver or his lungs.
Sanderson – Tarnowski’s first mate, whose job apparently is to listen to Tarnowski’s stories, jokes and boring anecdotes; and then worry about the crew mutinying. How crappy is your job when you have to concern yourself with the possibility of being killed by those working under you?
John Fairbanks – Ex-Marine who went sailing around the South Pacific with some buddies. A typhoon blew them off course and marooned them on the island, where everyone but him ended up being eaten by dinosaurs. He escaped but is now shanghaied by Tarnowski to help find the way back.
Edwards – Another one of Tarnowski’s crew. Aside from the Captain, the First Mate and a luckless helmsman who is stabbed to death during an attempted mutiny, Edwards is the only Caucasian we see in the crew, using his position to yell and scream at eveyone under him.

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

Cinecolor: We Hate YellowThis movie jumps straight into the opening credits, which are superimposed over a static image of an island shore (it looks like whatever passed for a matte painting in those days). With that quickly out of the way, we shift to a shot of a seaport with the name “Singapore” overlaid upon it. Then it’s another quick transition to the Port Of All Nations café.

Inside this clearly reputable local establishment the booze is being served up in a constant flow. The place is clearly frequented by sailors and seamen while in port and despite the laughter drifting through the air, I’d be willing to wager that the place can be pretty damn dangerous if the wrong words (“Ahoy, sea pussies!” springs to mind) are muttered by the ill-informed or flat out ignorant. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if anyone that walked in who wasn’t associated with the sailing life, has their ass kicked on general principles. The only likely thing in this place that is stronger than the clientele is the smell, no doubt. I wouldn’t bet on the place being too clean, either…especially where the glasses are concerned. Then again, I suppose the place isn’t all bad. There are a few ladies in the place, so it cannot be so terrible as to offend their delicate sensibilities. Yeah, right. These chicks are probably the kind that spread for money, and I ain’t talkin’ about peanut butter.

“Here…here’s a dollar. Now for the love of god, go take a bath.”So into this wretched hive of scum and villainy comes a man and a woman, Ted Osborne and Carole Lane. When descending the stairs from the street and getting his first real look at the place, Ted remarks on how he should not have brought Carole to a place like this. She just laughs and says that she has visited worse places in New York City (New York City?!) where she even had to pay a cover charge. Ted now looks at a guy standing close by and asks if a Captain Tarnowski is present. The guy just looks at him blankly. Ted is about to ask again, then realizes something, pulls out some money and hands it over to the guy before repeating his question. A loud laugh can be heard over the sounds of the gathered crowd and the guy informs Ted that the owner of the laugh is Tarnowski.

We now see a burly guy at the bar, laughing with another large dude. Tarnowski is in the midst of regaling his First Mate, Sanderson, with a story of a some wild altercation in another bar. Whatever the story involves, Tarnowski is laughing up a storm at the memory of it all. Ted and Carole walk to a table and sit down. When Tarnowski catches sight of her in the mirror that adorns the wall behind the bar, his laughter dies and we can instantly tell that he is appreciatively evaluating this newcomer. He says that he has never seen her in Singapore before, to which Sanderson says, “You wouldn’t, in the joints you hang out.”

Ted gives Carole a cigarette and asks if she will be ok by herself for a few minutes. Where is he going…the crapper? Meanwhile Tarnowski believes Carole is giving him the once over as well. Sanderson thinks he is delirious and bets him ten bucks that it ain’t so. Tarnowski bets him another twenty dollars that she’ll be drinking with him within five minutes, with an additional fifty bucks riding on the chances that within one hour, she and Tarnowski will be as he puts it, “pals.” The word pals in this case no doubt being a substitution for another term like “screwing our brains out” or similar words to that affect.

Ted now approaches and calls Tarnowski by name, which the Captain finds encouraging, since it means Carole also knows his name. Ted introduces himself and says that the ship’s broker referred him to Tarnowski, saying that he might find him in this dive. Seeing as how it seems he has lost his bet with his First Mate, Tarnowski hands over ten bucks to him. Ted goes on to explain that he would like to charter Tarnowski’s ship, wanting to leave at once. The Captain says that he already has a charter. Ted further elaborates and says that the cash will be put up front in a bank account – regular underwriters rates plus a twenty percent bonus. Tarnowski wonders if it’s some black market scheme, but Ted says no. The Captain then inquires into what it is all about, but Ted says that he will only reveal the destination and orders after they have dropped anchor.

Tarnowski doesn’t like this and says that “no one” gives him orders. Ted suggests going back to his table where they can discuss the matter with more privacy. Besides, his fiancée Carole would like to meet him. Tarnowski brightens at this prospect and agrees, accepting his bet money back from Sanderson as they walk away from the bar.

The trio joins Carole at the table where she exchanges witty remarks with the Captain. Ted invites them to sit down, but Tarnowski says he likes to spread out when he drinks and would like a private room. Ted looks around and notes that they are all taken. Grabbing a bottle from a passing server, Tarnowski says that they won’t be for long. He finds a private room that is set off from the main bar area and pulls back the grass shade. Inside are two sailors who are making out with some chicks. Tarnowski tells them to leave, but quite naturally they refuse. He insists and soon a brief fight erupts, which quickly ends with Tarnowski throwing the two men out of the room and then pushing the ladies out after them. He gets a bottle smashed over his head in the process, but never even notices. I am guessing that this whole affair was included in order to help establish the fact that the good Captain is one tough hombre, who does what he likes whenever he feels like doing it, just like that famous eight-hundred pound gorilla.

The group quickly sits down, where the Captain pours a shot for he and Carol from the bottle procured from the server. Since this means he is drinking with her within the five minute allotted time, he demands twenty bucks from Sanderson, who is forced to turn it over. Ted quickly turns things to business and talks about chartering the ship. It is instantly clear that both he and Carole would be joining the crew for this proposed trip. Sanderson says the ship is no place for her, being a floating pigpen. Tarnowski agrees, saying that while his vessel is quite sturdy, it is rather unkempt and contains nothing more than dirty cages for bringing back wild animals. Surely it is no place the two of them would want to spend their honeymoon.

Carole commends the Captain on his guess on the reason for their trip, but informs him that he is wrong. Ted jumps in and says that they were not planning on getting hitched until they returned. Then he says he is about to get into the wild animal business. Tarnowski states that he has been trapping and transporting wild critters since he was a boy, but notes that Ted doesn’t seem like the type to enter such a field. Ted then reveals that the animals he is looking for may not even be alive. In fact, they have been dead for millions of years. Tarnowski nods his understanding and notes that it is museum stuff Ted is after: bones from ancient dinosaurs and other such fossils. He seems to be weighing over the proposal when Ted adds that he will take the Captain to animals that he never dreamed existed, the last specimens of gigantic creatures that roamed the earth before man came into existence. This puzzles Tarnowski, as it seems Ted is now speaking of living creatures and not fossils.

Sanderson says that Ted is as batty as “that other joker.” Tarnowski brushes Sanderson’s comment aside and says that Carole and Ted will have to tell him a little more about this deal before he decides to commit to it. Carole looks at Ted and says that if they want a ship, they’ll have to be more forthcoming with the facts. Ted agrees and begins to spill his guts.

He relates how he was a Navy flyer during the war and it was during a solo mission scouting a “Jap base” that he got caught in a typhoon and was blown off course. He flew over hundreds of uncharted islands and it was on one of these that he spied something strange – huge reptilian creatures “three times the size of army tanks.” Tarnowski asks if he reported his findings, but Ted says that he did not, since they had nothing to do with the war effort. Additionally, he wasn’t keen on being labeled a quack. At this statement, Sanderson begins to chime in with something, but Tarnowski tells him to shut up. Ted continues, saying that he thinks the animals on this island are the last remnants of species that existed millions of years ago.

That’s what you get for using those old crappy One-Step cameras.The Captain asks him if he can find this island again to which Ted answers yes. Next, Tarnowski inquires into its size and Ted says, “about ten miles square.” He adds that it contained mountains as well as deep valleys and thinks it may be all that’s left of a continent that has slowly sunk into the sea over time. Tarnowski seems to find this credible and then Ted pulls out a photo he claims to have taken during his flyby. He hands it to the Captain, who scrutinizes it. Tarnowski says that the object in the photo could be a large animal. Then again it could very well be a rock formation or a shadow as well. In actuality the photo looks like a crayon drawing of a dinosaur scratched out by your average first-grader while in the throes of a sugar-induced seizure. Seriously, it looks so crappy, I don’t see how anyone could take it at face value.

Tarnowski is definitely interested, but says that in order to accomplish what Ted aims to do, a lot of money is going to be required. Carole tells the Captain that she is willing to pay him any amount he names, and furthermore, have it deposited in his bank account before they leave. “So that’s the way it is, uh?” Tarnowski inquires. Ted pipes in and says that he has nothing to hide, it’s just that Carole is funding this expedition for him. He plans on paying her back tenfold from the proceeds of what will be the most sensational animal hunt on earth. He claims to only be interested in the scientific aspects to the trip.

Captain Tarnowski finds this quite agreeable, no doubt realizing what a sucker he has on his hands. He turns to Sanderson and tells him to bring in someone named Fairbanks, who can be found at his usual spot: at the bar behind a bottle of rum. Ted wants to know whom this Fairbanks fellow is, saying he doesn’t want strangers brought into the arrangement. The Captain says that Fairbanks is the guy Sanderson tried mentioning earlier and notes that while Ted may have flown over the island in question, Fairbanks has actually set foot upon its shores. Ted finds this to be impossible. Tarnowski says he thought so, too, but Ted’s and Fairbanks’ respective stories seem to confirm the other. Carole wants to know why this man has never gone public with what he knows and the Captain says that Fairbanks isn’t exactly crazy, but too much sun has addled his brains. Tarnowski and his crew picked him up in a life raft a year or so back, and the man was raving on and on about animals as big as houses. Ever since, he has been trying to block the memories by drinking himself to death. I just hope I am not forced to enact a similar treatment after watching this movie.

Carole asks if this Fairbanks fellow is an American and Tarnowski says that he is and is also an ex-Marine. She notes that they should do something for him, to which Ted suggests taking him along on their little trip to Skull Isla…er…the island. The Captain agrees. Carole now asks how Fairbanks found the island. Tarnowski says that he didn’t and explains further how Fairbanks and a few of his buddies bought a boat after the war (world war two for those keeping track of such things), intending to take a pleasure cruise around some of the islands they saw during their time in the service. A typhoon blew them off course before they were caught in a mysterious current that beached them and smashed their boat to bits in the process. Sanderson gets up to retrieve Fairbanks from the bar, while Ted asks if there is any more to the story. Tarnowski admits that that is about all anyone ever got out of him…aside from the fact that Fairbanks was the only member of his group to leave the island alive.

Out in the main room, Sanderson spots Fairbanks at the end of the bar, staring into an empty shot glass. It’s apparent that he has depleted his funds and can only dream of another drink. Right about now, I’m dreaming of a drink as well. Sanderson tells him that Captain Tarnowski wants to see him. Fairbanks doesn’t recognize the name, but when Sanderson informs him that the Captain will buy him a drink, he is instantly willing to accompany him.

 “Son, this is AA: alcoholics anonymous, not alcoholics assiduous.”They rejoin the others where Tarnowski pours him a drink and Carole invites him to sit before introducing herself and Ted. Sanderson pulls up another chair, which Fairbanks wastes no time in plunking his ass into before sipping at his drink. Considering that he is holding a shot glass, and that is one awfully small sip. Maybe he’s concerned that this will be his last drink and he’d better make it last. Ted tries to discreetly bring up the topic of the island, but Tarnowski cuts him off and tells Fairbanks that they are heading back to the island where all his friends got gobbled up and asks if he wants to come along. For his part, Fairbanks doesn’t seem overly enthralled by the notion, evidenced by the fact that he instantly forgets about his drink and drops the glass. In addition, an expression of utter fear takes hold of his features. Not a “eww, it’s a spider, kill it” kind of look either, but more like Satan himself just popped into sight and began making good on a promise to sing show tunes atop the bar, dressed in hot pink lederhosen. I can sense your soul shriveling into an empty husk at the mere thought.

Tarnowski laughs up a storm at the other man’s fearful reaction. Fairbanks continues to sit in silence for a few more seconds, his face contorting like someone in the throes of a monumental bowel movement. Then he picks himself up, heads for the exit and declares that he would blow his brains out before returning to “that island.” That’s a “no,” then?

Tarnowski asks Carole and Ted if they still want to make the trip. Ted says that his mind is made up, but thinks that Carole should stay behind. She pipes in and says that her mind is made up as well. Yeah, she just isn’t about to let her fiancée out of her sight! She asks when they can leave and the Captain tells them that he will be ready to go by midnight the following evening. They make arrangements to have their gear brought on board as well as meeting Tarnowski at the bank to pay him his fee. Carole asks Tarnowski about Fairbanks and he says that he is pretty sure he can persuade him to change his mind and come along. Why do I get the feeling that the “persuasion” will either involve copious amounts of alcohol or a blow to the head (or both)? Ted raises his glass and proposes a toast to a successful trip. Tarnowski adds, “and a pleasant one,” while leering at Carole.

“How much you wanna bet I can piss all over the bar and the bartender will be happy about it?”Ted and Carole leave and then Sanderson asks his Captain what kind of “crazy deal” he has gotten them into this time. Tarnowski just says that a woman like that “don’t happen everyday.” So it’s obvious that the man is driven more by his lust than for love of money, though I’m sure that factors into his decisions as well. The two head out into the main room where Fairbanks has resumed his position at the end of the bar. “When we sail, I want him aboard,” Tarnowski says, in a tone that makes it clear that he doesn’t care how this is accomplished, only that it gets done. With that the two men leave. Fade out.

Can you believe that this entire opening segment in the bar took over fifteen minutes to play out? Fifteen minutes! In a modern Hollywood flick that would be enough time to introduce all the characters, outline the plot and run everyone through an action sequence or two. Back in 1948 this more leisurely pace was probably quite the norm and to be quite honest, it does not bother me at all. However, I can just picture in my mind the frenzied fidgeting undertaken by your typical member of today’s youth if they were subjected to this film. A whole fifteen minutes of nothing but talk! They might actually have to engage their brain for once instead of putting it on autopilot. Have I mentioned that I have no respect for people who claim to be film fans but cannot deal with the filmmaking styles of yesteryear? No?

So now we see a ship at sea in what is probably stock footage. It’s kind of hard to see any details on the ship because it’s about ten miles from the camera (ok, an exaggeration, but you get my meaning). It looks like some sort of generic freighter, and since Tarnowski is obviously a free agent, it’s a safe bet to call his ship a tramp freighter. We see Tarnowski and Sanderson walk out on deck, the first mate muttering something about “pretty boy” being in the chart house, altering the course again. I can only assume he is referring to that wiener Ted. Apparently they should reach their destination within three or four days. The Captain notes that they are a hundred miles off any shipping lane, so it’s easy to see why no one has encountered this island before now. Then he spots Carole a short ways away, admiring the view, the breeze billowing through her red lockes. He instantly gets a look on his face that is halfway between appraising and ogling.

Sanderson realizes that his Captain is thinking with something other than his brain again, and warns him to ignore the broad and concern himself with more important matters – like how the crew is muttering about being so far off the trade routes. Sanderson is sure that some of them are scheming something…and I’m pretty sure it isn’t a plan to unveil a ship-bound production of a Gilbert and Sullivan musical. Tarnowski tells him to keep an eye on the situation. Once they reach the island, there won’t be anything the crew can do about it. Why does he think that? How will being at the island hinder any attempts at mutiny? Is he going to force everyone ashore so they cannot commandeer the ship? Is he going to put a big parking club across the helm controls? I’d think that with him off the vessel, the chances for a successful takeover by the crew would increase substantially.

A hand appears from off screen wielding a pair of binoculars, but it is only one of the crew handing them to the Captain. Sanderson notes that they can “sneak up on you before you know it.” I will assume he is referring to the crew and not the constant bouts of diarrhea that probably result from eating anything from the galley’s cook. Tarnowski just laughs it off and walks away to join Carole.

Carole sees Tarnowski approach and comments on how the wind has been picking up. He agrees and says something about them getting a little blow. Ha! I know what kind of blow he has on his mind, and it ain’t the kind that goes up your nose. She then goes on and babbles about Ted and how this trip will bring him everything he wants: fame, fortune and what not. She seems a little forlorn when saying this, as if realizing deep down that she is not one of those things that Ted desires in his heart. She tries to mention something to Tarnowski about how Ted wants to inform the crew of the bonus situation when it comes to the animals they’ll find on the island, but the Captain quickly cuts her off and says that no one but him tells his crew anything. On that ominous note, we fade out.

Next up we see John Fairbanks in one of the cabins, standing before a mirror and shaving. Tarnowski comes in and comments on his decision to get cleaned up before offering him a drink. John (Fairbanks will henceforth be referred to as John on occasion in this review) refuses. They talk briefly about how Tarnowski basically Shanghaied him and the island is mentioned. Then both men hear a sound. The Captain slowly approaches the door and whips it open, revealing a member of the crew on the other side with a mop in his hand, but engaged in the time honored act of eavesdropping rather than attending to his sanitation duties. Tarnowski chews him out for listening in and barks some orders at him.

The guy leaves and after Tarnowski shuts the door again, John notes that the crew does not know where they are going and hints at possible mutinous feelings among them for being left in the dark. Tarnowski says his crew will go where he tells them. John now says that it would be quicker to have one’s throat slit now rather than fall prey to one of the huge animals on the island that cannot be seen until a shadow as big as a mountain falls across you. As big as a mountain? Sheesh, is this Monster Island and Godzilla we’re talking about? The Captain grabs him and tells him to shut up. I think the talk of monsters is scaring him. Sanderson then walks in to fetch Tarnowski for something. The Captain notes that John still has the jitters and then walks out.

Another stock footage shot of a ship is thrown at us, only now it has been run through some type of filter or lens to make it appear darker. This means the filmmakers want us to believe it is now night, despite the visibility with the naked eye being dozens upon dozens of miles. Deep in the bowels of the vessel, members of the crew are discussing the state of things. One guy who is holding a large machete-like piece of cutlery is going on about how the ship is heading for the island that caused their forefathers such great fear. A “taboo island” that rises out of the sea. The home of monsters that they are forbidden to even look upon. I think this guy has been running through his whiskey rations a little too fast and getting overly engrossed in someone’s copy of The Call of Cthuhlu. They talk some more, Mr. Bigmouth refers to his big knife as the “blade of justice” and plans are made to revolt later that night. It should be noted that a large portion of Tarnowski’s crew are made up of men from the South Pacific region, so I’m sure in the grand tradition of ship captains throughout history, he is exploiting them something fierce.

“You know, strip poker would be a hell of a lot more fun if we could convince some women to play.”Sometime later, when it really is dark, we see another crewmember standing on deck. This guy, Edwards, is Caucasian so you know he is one of Tarnowski’s more trusted guys. As if anticipating trouble, we see him check a pistol stashed in his belt. In a room behind the helm, Tarnowski is playing cards with Sanderson. Below in the crew barracks, we see about ten or twelve of the mutineers waking up, gathering up large knives and preparing to take the ship. Edwards, the one lone guy on deck has his back turned when they file out from down below, but manages to see one of his attackers approaching and throws the guy overboard. All we hear is a horrified scream and splash to mark this guy’s exit from the film. Two more mutineers quickly try to overpower him, but enough noise is being made that the helmsman can hear the commotion and shout a warning to Tarnowski.

Tarnowski and Sanderson now grab wooden clubs(!) and rush outside, just in time to see the guy at the helm with a knife sticking from his chest. The epic battle for control of the ship is now on! This takes place via a montage of shots showing Tarnowski and Sanderson beating the crap out of crewmembers with their clubs. These scenes are superimposed over a shot of a clock that shows the passage of time. Finally, the rebellious crew are stopped, rounded up and marched back to their barracks. Tarnowski glares at them all and then orders Sanderson to drop all the blades he has collected from defeated crewmembers. The first mate is shocked at this, and believes allowing them their weapons back will only prove fatal for them. Showing why he has the biggest set of balls in the Southern Hemisphere, the Captain says that it is all right. The crew won’t have the guts to try anything again and if they do, they’ll all be shark bait before he is a day older. With that he stomps out of the room.

Yet another stock footage shot of the ship at sea heralds the dawn of a new day. We see Carole relaxing on deck, kicked back in a rocking chair and perusing a magazine. John Fairbanks comes strolling along and the two start chit chatting. She asks where Ted is and John jokes that the other man is probably making out his last will and testament (a reference to the dangerous nature of the island to which they are heading). I guess Ted is so caught up in his work, he has forgotten than Carole is along for the trip. She now says that she doesn’t think John has really been to the island. Their conversation is about to degenerate into an argument when someone sights land and yells out the announcement. Everyone gathers to look and sure as shit, there is an island in the distance. Tarnowski asks John about any offshore reefs. John recommends anchoring offshore to avoid being smashed to pieces.

Sometime later they have arrived and anchored the ship. While gazing through binoculars at the island, Sanderson spots a sauropod-like dinosaur grazing on one of the hillsides. He mentions it to Tarnowski, who looks and exclaims that the darn thing “is alive!” Ted, about to pee his pants with excitement, grabs a pair of binoculars and takes a look, but in the handful of seconds that have transpired between the Captain’s remark and his getting the glasses to his eyes, the huge beast has pulled a Batman and vanished into thin air. That is some trick! That thing had to weigh tons and tons, yet it disappeared faster than a pork roast on Queen Latifah’s dinner plate.

Ted now wants to get the equipment loaded in the boats and make for shore. He asks Fairbanks if he has changed his mind about going ashore. John shakes his head, but says that Carole ought to do so. In true idiot fashion, she declares that she has nothing to fear, after all there are some men going along (a none too subtle dig at his perceived cowardice). She and Ted walk off to prepare while Tarnowski barks out a few more orders.

On deck a short time later, there is a lot of activity as people rush around preparing to head ashore. Edwards, the one Caucasian crew member whom we earlier saw throw a guy overboard is shouting orders left and right. Tarnowski appears and informs him that he will be going ashore, too. Amidst the organized confusion, Carole approaches John Fairbanks and apologizes for what she said earlier. Then she says that she wishes he would change his mind about coming. Ted would like it and she would feel better if he was along. “Nice try,” he says. She frowns and calls him “impossible” before stomping off. So, let me get this clear…these two have verbally sparred every time they have conversed with each other one on one. Naturally this means that they are destined to fall in love with one another.

Tarnowski happens by about now and John points out the Captain’s small pistol (no that is not a euphemism) and notes that he needs bigger guns if he wants to stay alive while on the island. Tarnowski says that they have guns that will stop an elephant, as well as grenades. John now announces that he has changed his mind about going. He wants to be there when Tarnowski starts screaming. With that he walks away from the Captain.

We cut to the shore, where a small boat rows up to the beach. On board is Tarnowski, Sanderson, Edwards, Ted, Carole, Fairbanks and about six of the crew. They begin unloading all the crap they’ve brought along, which amazingly enough didn’t capsize their little boat. Carole suddenly spots something in the sand and everyone gathers around to take a look at the big foot print left by some enormous beast’s passage (no, not Louie Anderson). The Captain asks Fairbanks about it and John says that it is the track of a dinosaur, as they come down to the beach on occasion (for what…to catch a few waves?). He then says how the carnivorous species stay inland, as there isn’t enough food near the shores to attract them. If anyone wants to see them, they will have to go to them as the critters won’t leave the wide open inland areas…except for some hairy monster that he previously mentioned. One stay on the island and suddenly this guy is the Marlin Perkins of the dinosaur world!

It seems the budget for Jurassic Park IV has been slashed considerably.Tarnowski orders Edwards to stay with the boat and finish unloading everything. If anyone tries to leave the island without the Captain’s permission, he is to shoot them. With Fairbanks leading the way, Tarnowski, Ted, Sanderson and Carole march off into the jungle. After an indeterminate amount of time walking, Carole spots a pair of sauropods wading in a lake. Ted begins reeling off facts about them like one of those know-it-all dorks in school, saying how they grow to be seventy-five feet in length and weigh around twenty tons. Ted begins to unpack his camera – you’d think the moron would have had it ready to go – but Fairbanks tells him that there will be plenty of time to snap photos later. Tarnowski remarks on how Fairbanks and Ted were not making things up when speaking of this place and soon the gang is on the march again.

Further on they encounter another species of big lizard, some fin-backed quadrupeds that resemble Dimetrodon. Notice that I didn’t call them dinosaurs, because technically, Dimetrodon was not a dinosaur but a pelycosaur. Click those links to learn more if you wish. The group watches as one of the critters moves through the tall grass. [sarcasm] This stunningly real effect [/sarcasm] is accomplished by pulling the dinosaur model with a wire. While the model is slightly animatronic and can move somewhat, giving the impression of being alive, it still drags its front legs as it “moves” through the foliage, due to the cheap-ass method utilized to get it ambulating. Too funny. The group presses onward.

Time passes and we see that all the junk from the boat has been unloaded, carted to wherever these clowns have chosen to set up camp and assembled into tents, tables and what not. Ted is monkeying around with his camera equipment when Carole announces that she has a strange feeling…like they are being watched. Ted chalks it up to her imagination and makes the asinine statement that “those beasts” won’t come anywhere near the camp and he’ll probably have to photograph them with a telescopic lens. What an idiot. I’m sure any smaller species that happens to come across them will think twice about interacting with all these strange newcomers, but what happens if a starving T-Rex comes bouncing along, looking to score some tasty treats? Are the presence of tents and the number of men going to deter it? Hell no! It’s gonna gleefully thank its lucky stars for the abundance of easily caught food and begin chowing down on the nearest dumbass, which hopefully would be Ted.

Carole walks off and then we see Sanderson asking Fairbanks where the fresh water is located. John tells him that there is a small spring a quarter mile away over a nearby rise. When asked if it’s safe, he tells Sanderson, “Sure, if you keep out of the soft mud and tall grass.” Ever the brave hero, Sanderson now calls to one of the crew, hands him a bunch of small barrels and orders him to take another crewmember and go get the water. Gee, what a real backbone on that guy, eh? While he’s standing there, Tarnowski comes up behind him and purposely scares him. Sanderson nearly shits his pants as he pulls his gun out and whips around to confront his attacker. Tarnowski just laughs and walks away while Carole comments on the Captain’s sense of humor. Suddenly a scream breaks the silence. Sanderson realizes it came from the poor schmucks he sent to fetch water. He, Tarnowski and Fairbanks grab their guns and run off while the other crew brandish those big blades they seem to favor and follow after them. Ted grabs…well, Ted grabs his camera and brings up the rear.

The shrill screams continue to cut through the air as the group races through the jungle. Finally they clear the trees and see one of the poor fools that Sanderson sent for the water. He is laying on the ground, wriggling around in fear as two T-Rexes stand over him, most likely arguing over who gets to eat him. The rescue party wastes no time in opening fire on these big lizards.

Now, it should be noted how absolutely ridiculous these creatures look. It is obvious from looking at them that they are being played by guys inside cheap rubber suits. These critters are not agile at all. They bounce in place and move with all the grace of an epileptic on three-wheeled roller skates. Naturally, these monster suits are not very well articulated. The small forelegs just dangle and the only thing that moves other than the feet are the mouths. So imagine two big T-Rexes, bouncing in place, turning to face each other and banging into to one another…all while perfectly static except for their mouths. It’s like watching some sort of retarded species of dinosaur trying to dance. Adding to the sheer insanity of these monsters is the sound they make. Do they roar? No. Do they growl deeply? Nope. What do they do, you may ask? Well, they squeal and honk. I’m serious! These things make a sound that is a cross between a monkey being squeezed in a vice and an elephant having its balls swatted with a baseball bat. It’s not the most intimidating or frightening sound by any stretch of the imagination (unless you’re that monkey or elephant).

So Mr. Waterboy continues to lay there screaming up a storm rather than take advantage of the fact that the two dinosaurs are fighting over dining rights. Any sane person would have picked their asses up and ran all the way back to the ship by now…even though the ship is anchored a mile offshore! Tarnowski and the rescuers have fired off more shots by this time than what one encounters at the typical rap concert, but the bullets are not doing a damn bit of good. One of the crew (the other guy who was sent for water but who escaped the dinosaurs) falls to his knees and begins beseeching the heavens for something, be it rain, help for his friend or a way out of this lame movie. Meanwhile, all this time, Ted is standing at the back of the group with his camera, filming the entire affair with all the determination of the paparazzi trying to snap photos of a coked up Lindsey Lohan.

Carole now wonders aloud if they can do anything for poor Mr. Waterboy, since it is obvious the damn fool is too scared to move and may be gobbled up at any moment. The Captain then answers affirmatively, aims his rifle and shoots the screaming man!! The poor bastard instantly stops screaming and drops his head to the ground, dead. Considering the way he was stretched out on the ground and the angle of Tarnowski’s shot, I’m almost afraid to think where that bullet entered the poor fool’s body. Talk about a rim shot! Everyone now beats a hasty retreat while the two dinosaurs continue to squeal and honk up a storm.

“Ok, who was the moron who forgot to pack the damn weenies?”Back at camp later that night, Tarnowski, Sanderson and Fairbanks sit around the fire and listen to the remaining crew perform some sort of ritual that involves chanting and drumming. We don’t actually see this, but only hear it. By the time the camera pans over to where they are, they have stopped and are now whispering amongst themselves as to what they will do now. Despite the fact that no more than two seconds elapse between the time the drums stop and the time we see them siting together, these guys have managed to put away their bongos, cuz there ain’t a single one of them in sight. Anyway, they talk and all agree that they need to leave the island. One guy wonders how this can be done since they have no guns and “that devil” who is more evil than the monster (Tarnowski) has them all locked away. The guy who was praying earlier, and who is the group’s leader, says that they do not need any guns. He has a plan, and they all lean in to hear it.

Meanwhile, over at the other end of camp, Carole has exited a tent with a spiffy clean dress on. Tarnowski whistles at her as she walks by and jokes about getting out his dinner suit and a bottle of fancy champagne. Sanderson tells her that this isn’t the kind of place for that outfit, but she says she put it on because she thought it would make her feel better. The Captain now motions to Sanderson and the two of them get up and walk away, leaving Fairbanks to compliment Carole on her taste. Well, her taste in clothing. I don’t think he knows her well enough yet to make that other determination. She asks what the crew was singing, adding that it gave her the creeps. John surmises that it was some sort of funeral chant. Then he asks where Ted is. With a slight sigh, she says that he is in his tent, developing pictures. John now gets up, says that he will be right back and tells her not to stray away from the fire.

He walks over to Ted’s tent and walks inside. Ted sees him and starts babbling about the pictures he took earlier that day, how great they turned out and how he’ll be famous. John solemnly points out that a man was killed that day and many more are likely to die before they leave. Ted doesn’t seem too phased, citing that men have died before in the name of science. John now says that he wants Ted to call this whole expedition off and get Carole away from this island. Ted thinks that John is pretending to be concerned for Carole to cover up his own cowardly nature and says so to John, who responds by grabbing him by the shirt. Ted pulls out his pistol and tells him to back up, adding that he won’t be leaving the island until he gets all the pictures he needs. “If anything happens to Carole, “ John begins to say, but is quickly cut off by a loud roaring from outside.

Everyone exits their tents and stares into the jungle, trying to see what is making the noise. Despite calling out Ted’s name, Carole puts her arms on Fairbanks when in cowering mode. Something large is moving about in the jungle and when Ted aims his rifle in its general direction, John tells him to hold his fire, as “it” will only charge into camp and tear them to pieces if injured. Then Sanderson, Tarnowski, Carole, Ted and Fairbanks all hide behind a large rock, followed quickly by the rest of the crew. Something large and hairy can be seen moving through the trees. When it reaches a clear spot, it stares at the humans, allowing them to get a good look at it. Basically it looks like a big brown gorilla with an ugly face, though later it will be referred to as a sloth! A sloth! Now, when I think of a sloth, I think of a small, lethargic primate that moves so slow that your average old person creeping through the grocery store while pushing a cart seems like a speed demon in comparison; not a huge ape-like thing. The sloth seems ready to attack, but then spots a Dimetrodon close by and decides to give chase. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief once it has gone.

Later that night we see Sanderson on guard duty. In the background, Tarnowski exits his tent, approaches his first mate and has him check on the beach encampment before turning it. Sanderson walks off, Tarnowski taking up his position as lookout. A few seconds later Carole leaves her tent and makes her way to the fire, where she sits down on a crate. Then Fairbanks leaves his tent and joins her. He assures her that the hairy monster won’t be back that night, as its hunger was probably satiated. He comments on Tarnowski’s ability to sleep after all the excitement and calls the Captain either “a brave man or stupid…probably both.” Then he says the same is true of Ted. Carole wants to know what he has against Ted. They argue a wee bit until Tarnowski moseys over and wants to know if he can join in. John gets up and walks off back to his tent in anger.

The Captain now tries to compliment Carole on her beauty and follows it up by grabbing her and kissing her, damn hear getting a taste of what she had for breakfast five days back with his tongue shoved so far down her throat. She pushes him away and slaps him. Almost instantly Ted appears to push Tarnowski to the ground and point his gun at him. He warns the Captain that if he tries a stunt like that again, he’ll kill him. Tarnowski just smiles and says that he won’t argue with him about it. “Right now,” he adds before walking away. Carole now tries to convince Ted that they need to leave this island right away, but he does not wish to go, citing his need for more pictures. “Is that all that matters to you?” She asks. He eventually agrees to leave the next day, pictures or no pictures. He promises to inform Tarnowski of this when the morning arrives. She trudges back to her tent, leaving him alone.

Well, morning arrives and Carole emerges from her tent to see very little in the way of packing to leave. She asks Ted about it and he stammers out an explanation about the Captain planning a search for some animal. He walks over to Tarnowski and informs him of their decision to leave. Not surprisingly, the Captain has no intention of leaving. While all Ted wanted were pictures, Tarnowski wants to capture one of the animals alive, since it will mean big bucks back home. If they don’t wish to stay, they can go back to the ship until he has caught one, though he cannot spare the crew to take them back until that night. With that, he orders the hunting party into motion, Fairbanks leading the way. With nothing better to do, Ted and Carole tag along.

So traipsing off into the jungle they merrily go. Ok, maybe not merrily, but you get the idea. Eventually they reach the edge of the jungle, a wide, barren and desert plain opening up before them. Trudging around in this area are about five T-Rexes. Yes, they all look as ridiculous as the earlier ones. Astoundingly, this lot actually sounds different than those first two. Well, at least initially they do. They start off by making roaring and growling sounds that are obviously taken from real animals and dubbed in, but soon enough they begin making that ludicrous squeal-honk. Ted begins filming with his camera while Tarnowski and his men prepare to capture one. However, the monsters have sighted the tasty-looking new arrivals and are making their way towards the humans, in that stumbling, bouncing, slow-ass gait of theirs. Ted shouts a warning to the others when he notices this.

Careful! At the speed they’re approaching, you won’t have much more than say…forty minutes to get away.One of the crewmembers announces that it is not right for mortal men to be here. As he says this, the other crewmembers begin retreating very fast I.E. running like hell. Sanderson now looks at Tarnowski and says that the other man is right and that they’re leaving. This is all the Captain needs to hear to start fighting with his first mate. As they struggle, one of the crew that was still hanging around pulls out a knife and throws it, most likely trying to kill the Captain, but only managing to sink the blade between Sanderson’s shoulders. The first mate slowly falls to the ground, dead. The guy who threw the knife tries to run away, but Tarnowski mows him down with his pistol.

Ted now says that the dinosaurs are getting closer. I actually think he’s on the verge of soiling his undergarments. At least he has the good sense to put down his camera, grab a rifle and join Tarnowski in firing at the beasties. Fairbanks grabs some grenades at the Captain’s behest and soon these are being deployed against the critters as well. We are now treated to lots of footage of them shooting, the dinosaurs squeal-honking up a cacophonous mess and explosions appearing around the big lizards. After expending more ordnance than in all of the Civil War, one of the T-Rexes keels over dead. The others waste no time in turning tail and hauling ass out of there, which because of their inability to take more than one bumbling step every few seconds, means it takes them a while to do so.

Now we see everyone marching back through the jungle, presumably towards camp. Carole is starting to lose it. She is going on and on about how Sanderson died, the dinosaurs and how she’ll have nightmares for the rest of her life (you and me both, sister). Ted tries to console her, but Fairbanks tells him he needs to get her off the island as soon as possible. This just annoys Ted, who launches into another spiel about how he is not going to leave the island without his pictures, especially after what he went through to get them. “What you went through?” John asks, but gets no reply. Fairbanks than falls back to where Tarnowski is bringing up the rear. He comments on how the Captain doesn’t look so good and should think about leaving the island. Tarnowski passes it off as jungle fever and says a little whiskey will fix him up. Besides, he still isn’t leaving without capturing one of those animals alive.

We return to camp and see Carole approach Ted’s tent. She calls to him and he comes out, asking how she is. She admits to feeling better and he says that it won’t be long now, as he only has one more roll of film to develop. She doesn’t seem overly thrilled at this and asks why he cannot do it back on the ship. He replies with some lame excuse about not wanting to stop once he got started. He invites her inside to watch, but she declines. She opts to go for a little walk. He doesn’t think that is such a good idea. No shit, Sherlock! She says that she won’t go far and walks away. Her displeasure with him is fairly obvious to all (except him no doubt).

Carole wanders a wee bit into the trees and jumps when she hears gunshots, but it turns out to be Fairbanks a short ways off, engaged in a little target practice by shooting booze bottles he has set up on a rock shelf. He tells her that he lifted them from Tarnowski’s tent and brought them out here to play a little game: he shoots at them and any bottle he misses, he drinks. Yikes, if I was playing that game, I’d be dead from alcohol poisoning after two shots. So far, he has hit every bottle (though he really should be drunk off his ass because he fires four shots but we only see three bottles, meaning he missed at least once). It’s at this point that the movie is telling us that John here has cleaned up his act and is no longer the walking booze sponge. She seems much more at ease with him and willing to put their differences in the past. The pair then head back to camp together.

At camp, the crew has finished constructing a barricade around the camp. This seems to be comprised of bushes…lots and lots of bushes. Some barricade! At least their camp is near some large rocks, so they have most of their perimeter safe. This barricade looks like it would have trouble holding back your average landscaper armed with a weed whacker. Apparently the captain realizes this as well and orders oil poured over it. One of the crew gives him a bottle of booze for his fever and we can tell by his speech that Tarnowski is slowly succumbing to that fever.

Carole and Fairbanks return about now. Tarnowski offers them both a drink, but they decline his offer. Carole asks about the flimsy barricade and the Captain explains about how it is soaked with oil and all it will take is one match to light it ablaze. In his estimation, no animal would attempt crossing it at that point. He drunkenly/feverishly jokes about letting one through, just so they’d have a pet on their trip home. Ted arrives now and says that he is ready to go, but Tarnowski has changed his mind about letting them return to the ship for the duration of their time there.

About now, we see the rest of the crew secretly confer with one another and then covertly leave the area.

John presses the matter and the Captain agrees to let Carole return to the ship, as he doesn’t want anything to happen to her, but everyone else is to stay. Ted asks why and Tarnowski says he needs help in capturing a dinosaur. John tells Ted to not start anything, as the captain is half out of his mind due to the fever and the whiskey. John tries to convince the captain to let Ted leave, but Tarnowski says he needs him as bait. Plus, with Ted occupied, it would clear up Fairbanks’ way with Carole. This annoys John, but before he can do anything, shots are fired in the distance. Tarnowski notes that it is coming from Edwards at the shoreline. They look around and see the missing crew and John realizes that they are after the boat. Everyone jumps up and hauls ass for the beach. Tarnowski is a little slow about it though, pausing to discard a cigarette. Unfortunately, he doesn’t realize that it landed right in the midst of the oil-soaked bush barricade. Idiot.

Watch the preceding entire scene closely and you’ll notice that the cigarette Tarnowski throws away can be seen sitting on the bush and giving off smoke before he is even finished with it and while everyone is still talking! When he tosses it aside, the camera pans over to the bush and we see it lying there, smoldering away. I can only presume that it would have been too hard for actor Barton MacLane to toss away the cigarette and have it land where the camera could pick it up, so the producers “planted” one before filming the scene. It was a good idea, but the smoke gave it away.

Next time on Survivor: a maritime marksmanship challenge spells trouble for one tribe.The four them run pell mell down to the beach, where they find Edwards stretched out on the sand and the boat being rowed out by the crew. The Captain, Ted and Fairbanks all start shooting at the deserters. One of the guys on the boat fires back before taking a bullet and softly slipping over the side into the water. Fairbanks helps Edwards, who is gradually regaining consciousness. Then he notes that the thieves will never make it. They’ll get caught in an undertow between reefs and be smashed to bits. We then see a miniature boat with small toy people in it being thrown about by very real waves. This effect isn’t too bad because it utilizes real surf. If the toy boat was slightly less fake looking, this shot would have come off better. So the boat is capsized and we get close-ups of the crew as they splash around in the water and are pulled to a watery grave by the undertow.

Ted wonders what they are going to do now that they seem to be stranded (That’s it, man. Game over! Game over!). Carole asks if they can signal the ship with the rockets, but Tarnowski just laughs and says that all of the rockets went down with the boat. John explains that it will be at least a week before anyone on the ship comes ashore to check on them, as they know the landing party had plenty of food and supplies. Edwards is fully awake now and says that the thieves jumped him before he knew what happened. Ted flies into a rage at this point, blaming Edwards for their predicament and about ready to hit him.

Smoke is spotted drifting over the hilltop and everyone launches into another run, this time back to camp to check on what few supplies they have left. They return to find the place nothing but charred ruins. Carole wonders what happened and John guesses that something touched off Tarnowski’s firewall. Ted panics and runs to check on his pictures, relived to find that some of them made it through the fire unscathed. Thoroughly pissed off now, Carole asks if that is the only thing he is worried about. He mumbles something about the pictures being what he has worked so hard for and being the only proof of what he has seen. They represent his future. Carole now tears him a new one and says that if he doesn’t start trying to figure out a way to get off the island, there will be no future for any of them.

While poking through the ruins, Tarnowski finds a couple of usable grenades. He is spotted by Edwards, who points out this fact to Fairbanks. Thinking that no one sees him, Tarnowski pockets the weapons. Fairbanks says that they will have to keep an eye on him, as that is all the ammo they have left and that the Captain has gone “a bit screwy” since the fever caught up with him again. Everyone gathers around and Carole asks what they are going to do now. Tarnowski loudly proclaims that he is looking for a bottle of booze that he knows is somewhere in camp. Talk about prioritizing! Fairbanks now reminds them that he once escaped this island on raft, so off to the beach the rest of them head, leaving the Captain to search for his alcohol.

Next we see Carole, Ted, Fairbanks and Edwards at the beach, doing their best to construct a raft using twine and logs. Edwards brings some driftwood he has found that obviously belongs to a vessel. The name “Dolphin” can be seen and Fairbanks notes that it was the boat that originally brought him and his doomed friends to the island on that first occasion. Edwards asks where Tarnowski is and Ted replies that the Captain went off to look for something to use as a sail. I guess the Captain either found his booze and began helping with the raft construction, or he abandoned his hunt for his bottle of liquor.

We now see Tarnowski stumbling along the shore. He spies an old boat on the beach and looks around to see if anyone else has spotted it. It’s too old and beat up to be anything that came with this expedition, so I’m guessing it’s a dinghy from an earlier visitor…like Fairbanks’ bunch. Tarnowski then pulls it into the bushes and hides it, making sure to clear the sand of any tracks that were left behind. At this point he produces a bottle of alcohol from his pocket and takes a healthy swig. I guess he found that missing booze after all.

The Captain returns to the others, who are still building their raft. He laughs at them, likening their crude assemblage of logs to Noah’s ark. Edwards remembers seeing some tools at the camp and Fairbanks says that they will need them when it comes time to plank the raft. Tarnowski tells Ted to go and retrieve them, but Carole pipes in and says that she will get them. She instructs Ted to stay and continue helping and then heads off, Fairbanks reminding her to stay on the path as she leaves. The Captain stands there for a few more seconds then follows after her.

At the burned out camp, Carole looks around, gathers up what tools she manages to locate and then leaves. At the beach, the men notice that Tarnowski is missing, but don’t concern themselves with it. As Ted puts it, he feels better when the Captain is not around. Making her way back through the jungle, Carole is surprised by Tarnowski, who leaps out from behind a tree and grabs her, scaring her in the process. He offers to show her a shortcut back to where the others are building the raft, but she insists on going back the same way she came. Not one for rejection, Tarnowski grabs her and laughs. She struggles, but he does not let go until one of those annoying squeal-honks sounds nearby. They look and see a T-Rex gimping through the trees in their direction. The Captain takes out a grenade and lobs it at the monster. At this point he has his back turned to Carole and the moron woman does not have the good sense to run, escaping both him and the dinosaur. Idiot.

Meet Grumpy’s little brother…Sneezy.Ted, Fairbanks and Edwards hear the blast and instantly abandon their work on the raft. They charge into the jungle, but Ted makes sure to grab his precious film first. Back with Carole and the Captain, Carole passes out from the sheer excitement of it all and Tarnowski throws another grenade at the dinosaur, killing it. The rear screen projection used in this shot makes it appear as if the critter was about a football field’s length away. Tarnowski now scoops up the unconscious Carole, and with a gleeful grin, heads off into the jungle.

A short time later, Ted, Fairbanks and Edwards arrive on the scene. They notice the dead T-Rex and realize that the Captain killed it. They also see some discarded tools, which lets them know that Tarnowski has Carole with him. Fairbanks suggests splitting up and looking for them, as it will soon be dark and too difficult to pick up the trail. Captain Chickenshit…er…I mean Ted, doesn’t seem to like this idea and thinks they should let things stay the way they are. He is pretty sure that Carole will find a way to escape from Tarnowski. Talk about a spineless coward! His fiancée is in the hands of a man who has proven himself to be dangerous and capable of damn near anything, yet he doesn’t want to rush to her aid? Yeah, that’s real love there, alright.

Fairbanks tells him to go on back to the beach with his film, as that is all Ted seems worried about anyway. Ted has reached the point where he is sick of Fairbanks and tells him so. He adds that when things are over and they are back on the mainland, they are going to settle a few things. Fairbanks thinks the time is right to settle them now, and moves to kick Ted’s chickenshit ass, but Edwards stops him and reminds him that now is not the time for fighting. He also points out that as well as Fairbanks knows this island, he won’t stand much of a chance trying to track Tarnowski in the dark. John reluctantly agrees and the trio head back to the beach, leaving Carole in the clutches of the drunken, feverish Captain.

 

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

 

Now we turn our attention to Carole and Tarnowski. The pair has made a fire somewhere in the jungle. She seems pretty tired (no doubt having recovered from her fainting spell some time back) but declines the Captain’s suggestion to take a nap, as she does not trust him and admits it. She asks what they do now and he informs her of the boat he has hidden about two miles away. The two of them will use it to return to the ship…alone. When she asks about the others, he just says that they have plenty of company. I’m assuming he is referring to the plethora of man-eating critters on this island and not one another. He then asks her what she thinks of this idea and she states that she will do anything to get off this island.

Whoa, slow it down for a sec! Wrong move there, hon. Ladies, never tell a man you will do anything in exchange for some service. I know that sexual favors are not implicit with the use of the word, but trust me, as soon as that word leaves your mouth, any straight guy in earshot will immediately picture in his mind a dozen or so kinky sex positions as well as interesting locations in which to try them. Don’t be shocked. Most guys have already pictured you naked and imagined what sex with you is like. We’ve even discussed the notion with a few select friends or co-workers. It’s just how the male mind works. Accept it and move on.

Well, Tarnowski is no different from the rest of us with one-track minds, and grabs Carole yet again. “You’re all alike ain’t you?” He asks. She pushes him back and tells him that he must keep his end of the bargain first before he sees any action. Amazingly, he agrees! He says that they’ll head for the boat first thing in the morning. She balks at that idea, not keen on spending the night in the jungle with him. He says that he won’t let anything happen to her, plus he knows that she won’t run away with all the hungry monsters running loose. They plop back down by the fire, Tarnowski draining the last drop from his bottle of booze. Then he stretches out to get some shuteye. Carole looks over and notices the holstered pistol on his belt, but does nothing about it.

Over at some other makeshift camp, Edwards wakes up long enough to throw some more wood on their fire and then notice that Fairbanks is gone, a note left in his place. He wakes Ted and shows him the note. In it Fairbanks says that he has gone to look for Carole and instructs the other two men to head to the beach and keep an eye on the raft. Don’t you just love the concern Fairbanks has shown for them? He goes off and leaves them sleeping, not bothering to wake one to serve as lookout. He doesn’t know that some huge beast isn’t going to come along and eat them while they’re sleeping. Gee, what a swell guy. Then we see Fairbanks walking through the jungle, though it is pretty bright out for being night. Maybe morning has come?

Then we cut to Carole waking up. She leans over like she is going to grab Tarnowski’s gun, but drops back and feigns sleep when he it appears he might awaken. We get some footage of Fairbanks searching the jungle inter cut with shots of Carole feigning sleep and Tarnowski snoring away. Real thrilling, edge of your seat stuff. NOT. Eventually she tries going for the gun again and actually succeeds in lifting it from him, when a Dimetrodon comes dragging along and forces her to fire it. This is good and bad. It’s good because Fairbanks hears it and comes running. It’s bad because…well, you guessed it – it wakes Tarnowski. He wrestles the gun away from Carole and says he ought to finish her off right now. Then looking at the dead monster, he figures she also saved his life, so he goes to plant a big, wet, slobbery kiss on her. Naturally, she struggles. Wouldn’t you? I sure would! He says that he likes her spirit and nestles her neck.

Carole now shouts out, “John!” Tarnowski turns to see Fairbanks standing a few feet away. He points his gun at him and pulls the trigger several times, but the gun’s ammunition has been expended. “You’ve been asking for this for a long time,” John says, and points his own gun at Tarnowski. Then he thinks about it for second and tosses it aside, no doubt intending to face the Captain on even terms. However, Tarnowski isn’t the type to play fair, and throws his gun right at John, distracting him long enough so he can get close and punch him. With that, the fight is on! The pair trade punches back and forth…well, at least their stunt doubles do. Most of the match is shot from a distance using said doubles. A couple close up shots feature the actors, though they forgot to remove the Captain’s hat, which fell off in one of those shots with doubles. Finally, John lands a good solid punch and Tarnowski goes down, knocked out cold.

Modern audience reaction to replacing the sloth with Kathy Kinney by use of computer FX was mixed at best.Carole asks if the Captain is hurt badly, so John checks on him and says that he will be ok. Indeed, even now Tarnowski is beginning to come around. John and Carole decide to scram and take off through the trees. Meanwhile, Tarnowski tries to take a few steps, but falls down again. Too bad for him, cuz here comes some real trouble! That big hairy, oversized sloth that was spying on them a couple nights back comes sauntering along. It sees Tarnowski and slowly moves in for the kill while the Captain wails away in terror. The last we see of him, he is wearing a facial expression as if Dame Edna just demanded oral sex from him and is in the process of making sounds that are only slightly less discordant than a Yanni concert. Scratch one jackass ship Captain.

Fairbanks and Carole are now hauling ass through the jungle faster than Indiana Jones being chased by the entire Hovitos tribe. Behind them in the distance, Tarnowski’s screams can be heard rending the air. “It sounds like something horrible is happening to him,” Carole exclaims. For a split second we get a close up of the sloth’s face as it does…whatever it is it is doing to Tarnowski. For all we know it may have bent him over a log and is having its way with him. Now that is horrible! John says that if they don’t keep moving, whatever it is that is giving the Captain such a miserable day is going to catch up with them and spoil theirs, so they resume their frantic run.

Not long after, they are forced to stop because a T-rex has appeared in their path. The creature starts stumbling towards them, so they turn to flee. However, the sloth has apparently finishing abusing Tarnowski and has caught up with them. It comes bouncing along, preventing them from heading back in that direction (when the camera first shows it, it is standing still, then suddenly launches into a walk as if someone yelled, “action” and started rolling film a fraction of a second too early). John and Carole quickly hide behind a rock, which sits precariously close to a cliff’s edge, and watch as the T-Rex and the sloth meet on the field of combat.

Now, to say that this fight is goofy looking is like saying that the Ebola virus will upset your stomach. First off, it should be noted that the sloth is almost as tall as the T-Rex, which have been shown to be about fifteen feet tall. At no time earlier did the film make the creature’s size apparent, but now with another critter on hand for comparison, we see that it is pretty damn big itself – probably about ten or eleven feet in height. No wonder Tarnowski was screaming up a storm a short while ago! Anyway, the battle between sloth and T-Rex commences. It is not very exciting, to say the least. Most of it is shot from the upper bodies and up, so you only see their shoulders and heads as they bang into each other over and over. Naturally the T-Rex is squeal-honking up a storm.

While this battle is underway, we see Edwards and Ted running in the direction of the fight, the latter still guarding his precious film. Loser.

The fight goes on and on, for what seems like ten minutes but in reality was really only over a minute or so in length. We get numerous shot of the beasties fighting, then a reaction shot of Ted and Carole, then fighting shots, then a reaction shot, then fighting, then…you catch my drift. FINALLY, the monsters get too close to the edge of the cliff and the T-Rex slips and plunges to the rock below. This shot is very interesting. A real cliff is used and a fake dinosaur is tossed over, but it just looks too fake for it to be one hundred percent convincing. Its foe defeated, the sloth hobbles off into the distance in a walk that makes it look like some retarded gimp.

John and Carole emerge from their hiding place just in time to meet Edwards and Ted. The latter remarks on Carole being alright. She sarcastically replies, “Yes, Ted, I’m alright.” Edwards wants to know what all the commotion was about and they point to the dead T-Rex on the rocks below. “Now let’s get off this island,” John says.

They head back to the raft where we see them putting the finishing touches on it. The next shot shows them on the deck of the ship, so obviously the raft worked out for them. I guess the filmmakers didn’t want to stretch the movie out any further by showing their adventures in getting past the reefs or reaching the ship. Edwards tells Ted, Carole and John that they will be underway in a minute and then walks off to attend to other matters.

“Well, it was nice working with you. See you in six years for Target Earth?”Ted now sheepishly looks at Carole and says that she was quite wonderful through all this. When they get back to Singapore…She cuts him off before he can get anything more out and says, “We’ll have a few things to settle, Ted. Important things.” She then glances at Fairbanks. “Particularly about us.” That’s it, folks. She has officially swapped boyfriends. She has dumped the loser Ted, who was more concerned with his pictures and fame to worry about her, and hooked up with the manly Fairbanks, who put his alcohol demons behind him and showed his bravery by coming after her when she was in trouble.

Do you think Ted is going to fight for her? Will he deck Fairbanks? Strangle him in his sleep on the return voyage and then dump his body overboard? He’s not going to take this laying down is he? He sure he is! He just looks at them both and says, “I understand,” before walking off. LOSER! LOSER! LOSER! Good god, man…fight for what you purportedly care about! With Ted gone, Carole and John share a goo-goo eyed look, and then turn back to gaze at the island.

THE END.


Review

Ever since the first dinosaur fossils were unearthed, people have wondered how the ancient beasts must have appeared in the flesh and what it may have been like to walk among them. The earliest known examples of dinosaur bones were discovered in China circa 300 B.C. and were originally thought to have belonged to a dragon. It wasn’t until the nineteenth century, when the bulk of the initial discoveries in the field were made, and a more scientific approach was taken, that the word dinosaur (from Greek deinos: terrible or fearsome, saurus: lizard) was coined by Richard Owen. Since then archeologists and paleontologists have spent countless hours painstakingly removing dinosaur bones from the ground, piecing them together into complete skeletons and sketching what the living organism may have once looked like. No other creatures that once roamed the Earth have fired the imagination like that of the dinosaurs (well, maybe the lifeform known as the modern Star Trek nerd, but that is a discussion for a different day). Knowing that such gigantic and terrifying creatures, that seem more like some fanciful monster straight out of myth and legend, once lived on our very own planet has imbued them with a sense of awe and wonder felt by both wide-eyed youth and jaded old timer alike.

Naturally, this fascination with dinosaurs would not long stay confined to scientific papers, journals and the larger world of academia. Soon, they began popping up in other mediums, most notably literature. One of the first was Voyage au centre de la Terre by Jules Verne in 1864. The story involves a small group of people who follow a path down the interior of a volcano, emerging in the center of the earth, where they encounter many prehistoric animals and natural hazards. It’s translation into English as A Journey to The Center of the Earth in 1871 was the very first English language novel with prehistoric animals. Perhaps the most famous example early dinosaur novels is that of The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which originally appeared as a serial in Strand Magazine in London, England beginning in April of 1912. The novel centers on an expedition to a plateau in South America where prehistoric animals still survive. While the dinosaurs in the book took a back seat to the more central plot of warring Humanoid tribes, it was still this aspect of the story that captured the imaginations of so many people. Two years later in 1914, contemporary author Edgar Rice Burroughs published At the Earth's Core as a four-part serial in All-Story Weekly. This time it is the land of Pellucidar, located at the center of the earth (on the inner side of the earth’s “shell”) and reached via an excavating vehicle called an Iron Mole, that is home to innumerable prehistoric creatures from of all geological eras. The author would pen several novels in the series, including one that featured a crossover with his most famous literary creation, Tarzan.

In time, with the advent of the motion picture camera and the rise of the film industry, dinosaurs would make the logical leap from printed page to silver screen. One of the earliest and most famous films was Gertie The Dinosaur (1914), a short by Winsor McCay that featured live action of McCay himself interacting with an animated diplodocus. It wasn’t the first to feature such a prehistoric beast, but managed to stick out from the rest by playing up the appealing nature of the titular animal. It was also the first animated film created by using keyframe animation. More films with dinosaurs followed, including Ghost of Slumber Mountain (1918), a live action film that featured stop-motion dinosaurs created by Willis O'Brien. Then in 1925, Conan Doyle’s The Lost World was adapted for the screen as a silent movie. Choosing to focus more on the dinosaurs that the Ape-man plot, the film was an enormous success, due mostly to the incredible special effects by that same Willis O'Brien, whose stop motion animation technique brought the ancient lizards to life like never before. Eight years later, O’Brien’s most famous and celebrated work was done for the film King Kong (1933), which aside from showcasing a fifty foot ape, also featured several species of dinosaurs that called Skull Island home. The film was another monumental success and even to this day, stands the test of time as a classic, spawning sequels, remakes, sequels to remakes and a legion of knock-offs featuring oversized apes and simians. Again, that is a discussion for another day.

King Kong seemingly opened the floodgates and in the decades that followed, moviegoers would be treated (or subjected) to countless films featuring dinosaurs. The FX that brought these creatures to life were not always the best, often times being nothing more than real lizards with added horns (One Million B.C – 1940) or silly-looking puppets (The Mighty Gorga – 1969), but in many cases they were outstanding. A young man by the name of Ray Harryhausen would perfect the stop-motion process pioneered by Willis O’Brien, bringing to life all manner of otherworldly critters, dinosaurs among them in One Million Years B.C. (1966). The next seminal moment in dinosaur FX would not come until 1993 in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, a film adaptation of the novel by Michael Crichton. The computer generated imagery by Phil Tippett and the rest of the team at Industrial Light and Magic initiated not only an entirely new age of dinosaur fascination, but for good or ill, jump started the CGI trend seen in so many modern films.

However, back in 1948, long before modern advances could make the giant prehistoric beasts seem to truly come alive, director Jack Bernhard had to rely on the man-in-a-suit approach for the T-Rexes in Unknown Island. Other dinosaurs brought to life in the film were done so by using miniature sets and rubbery models. Created by the team of Howard A. Anderson and Ellis Burman, they might have been adequate for audiences back then (Note the word might. Even then they could have been quite phony looking), but by today’s standards they are more cheesy than a dozen quesadillas from Taco Bell. Headlining the film was Virginia Grey, an actress who worked for MGM in the 1930’s, landing leading parts in “B” pictures and supporting roles in “A” pictures. She left MGM in 1942 and would go on to work for every major studio over the course of her forty-nine year acting career. She was joined by Barton MacLane, who regularly played the heavy or bad guy in films, and Richard Denning, a character actor who would later pop up in many genre films of the 1950’s. Blatantly using the King Kong motif of traveling to an uncharted island and encountering all sorts of prehistoric beasts, albeit without focusing on a giant ape (though there is a huge primate in the film), Unknown Island used an early two color film process called Cinecolor to add an extra dimension to the somewhat formulaic plot.

Everyone loves dinosaurs, right? I will admit that when I was a kid I had lots of plastic dinosaurs that I regularly played with in the back yard while my mother was working in her garden. In the many years (too many years, sadly) since being a youngster, I have often seen similar items in stores, ample evidence that subsequent generations have also spent countless hours with such toys. Since the mighty beasts have long since vanished from the earth, it is only natural for us to imagine what they must have looked and sounded like. Alas, looking at an assembled skeleton or colorful sketch can only do so much, so it should come as no surprise that bringing dinosaurs to life for the silver screen was met with such success. Naturally, films focusing on such ancient creatures have run the gamut from outstanding blockbuster to grade Z piece of crap. I’d like to think that Unknown Island falls somewhere towards the end of that spectrum, though this classification is mostly due to the poor creature FX. Other than that one aspect, this film is a tightly plotted and well acted adventure, even if it starts off with things moving slower than molasses in January.

The Storyline.
This is one of those movies whose plot can easily be condensed to a short sentence: An expedition encounters dinosaurs on a South Seas island. Really, there is very little more that needs to be said about the story here. Sure, there is somewhat more to the film, but basically it is summed up with those few words. Things unfold at a leisurely pace at first, with the long opening scene where Ted and Carole talk with Tarnowski and convince him to let them charter his ship. The next segment aboard ship moves even quicker and is just long enough to establish a few more facts (unhappy crew) and character traits (Fairbanks desire to clean himself up). Then it’s arrival time at the island and the film never changes locations again. After different “adventures” on the island, the survivors make it back to the ship, having learned vital lessons about themselves and each other, and then the film ends.

I think that it is fairly obvious that the inspiration for this film was 1933’s King Kong from RKO. While a case can be made that both projects were influenced by both the book and movie versions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost Word, as well as other literary sources, the similarities between the two films are quite striking. Both are movies featuring people traveling by freighter to a mysterious island filled with dinosaurs that have somehow survived untouched for millions of years, both have giant primates that menace the explorers, both feature a fight to the death between that giant primate and a dinosaur, both have ship captains determined to capture one of the animals for sheer profit value and both have a lone female as the main human protagonist.

However, there are notable differences. Unknown Island doesn’t make its giant primate the focus of the film, nor does it abandon its south seas jungle setting, confining all of its dinosaur action to the island in question rather than transplanting any of it to the concrete jungle of the big city. It is also noticeably shorter, having streamlined the story into a quickly paced series of scenes that waste no time in moving things along. Despite the lack of material that had not already been seen in previous movies (and done better I might add), the film does have its own quirky charm. This really stems more from the strong characterizations than anything, though the rather lackluster…ok, crappy monster FX certainly adds to the quaint feel the film often projects.

Characterizations & Acting.
This is by far the film’s strongest component. Many viewers might be drawn to this movie by the allure of cheesy dinosaurs, but it’s the strong characterizations and acting that provides the backbone for the narrative when the promised dinosaurs fail to engender much of anything beyond derisive laughter. Though the film is barely over an hour in length, the screenplay by Robert T. Shannon and Jack Harvey takes every opportunity to make the characters real, even if they don’t get fleshed out much beyond the broad strokes. This is backed up by the acting, which is pretty good among the leads. All combined, it makes for characters that are easy to cheer on as well as despise, especially given how several of them change as the movie progresses. Had the dinosaurs benefited from such treatment, this film may have been remembered more fondly.

First up we have Virginia Grey as Carole Lane. She plays Carole as a strong yet vulnerable woman. She seems quite at ease in the rough and tumble environment of the Port Of All Nations café, comparing it to some of New York City’s less reputable establishments. She also insists on accompanying the men on their journey to the island, again indicating her ability to handle herself around them as well as her willingness to personally oversee her investment in the expedition. Once on the island she holds up well, but the combination of deadly monsters, Tarnowski’s unwanted attention and her fiancée’s disinterest in anything beyond his work finally gets to her and fuels her desire to leave. Through it all, she avoids the Fay Wray helpless woman impersonation, even if she does faint at one point when under attack by a T-Rex. When forced into an uncomfortable arrangement with Captain Tarnowski, she acquits herself well, never falling into despair as many screen damsels would do, but tries her best to extricate herself from the situation. Despite these strong qualities, it still takes a male to save her in the end, indicating that the world of movies was not quite ready for the Sigourney Weaver types yet. Still, her character was a refreshing change from the scream queens that populated so many films in that era.

Next up is Ted Osborne, played by Phillip Reed. Ted starts out as quite the likable guy. He weaves a tale to Tarnowski about his experience during the war, flying over the island, snapping photos of a dinosaur, keeping the story to himself and now desiring to go back. He seems earnest in his desire to locate the island and prove the existence of such animals for the good of science. Naturally, he foresees a substantial amount of money to be made from the fruits of the endeavor, but he is more focused on the task at hand rather than the end result. He shows some concern for Carole’s well being before they embark on the trip, but once aboard ship he seems forget she exists. Even when they have made landfall on the island, he is so absorbed with photographing every species he comes across that he fails to notice that Carole is increasingly unhappy with him and the situation. Ted finally reveals his true nature when Tarnowski abducts Carole and he opts to do nothing about her predicament, theorizing that she will find a way to escape the drunken, feverish Captain all on her own. It is at this point that both Carole and the audience see that he is a lost cause and no matter what his subsequent actions may be, he will never be able to redeem himself in her (or ours) eyes. That his selfish behavior doesn’t result in his own demise is a surprise, but he does reap what he has sown and he realizes this by film’s end.

Then we come to Captain Tarnowski, played by Barton MacLane. Like Ted, he starts off the film as likable, though from the very beginning we see that there is a dangerous edge to him. This is shown by his willingness to engage in barroom brawls and bet on his chances of a sexual encounter with Carole. Unlike Ted, he undertakes the voyage for pure monetary gain. While pleasant enough at first, he gradually becomes more and more unstable, due in part from his drinking, a case of jungle fever and his increasing desire for Carole. When he kills one of the crew to spare him the fate of being eaten alive rather than try and render further aid, we can see that he really is not someone that can be trusted. Before too long he is raving like a madman, putting the moves on Carole and disregarding anything and everything the others say to him, threatening to kill anyone who stands in his way of capturing a living dinosaur. His selfishness comes to the fore when he finds a way off the island but decides to only take Carole with him, leaving the others to die. Eventually all that bad karma comes back to bite him on the ass, and after getting pummeled by Fairbanks in a fist fight and left behind, the good captain has a fatal encounter with the giant sloth creature. His actions to that point will have the audience feeling that the death was not one to regret.

Personally, I have to hand it to the Mr. MacLane for really bringing the part alive. Tarnowski seems like the type of person you’d want to drink with and have at your back during a fight, but without coming right out in an overt display of villainy – like twirling his mustache and laughing maniacally (though he does laugh at others’ expense on more than one occasion), the actor manages to instill a quiet sense of unease about the Captain and upon further reflection we realize that he is not the kind of person one would want to be around for any extended periods of time. His complete willingness to let others die and total disregard for anyone else other than himself definitely makes him the bad guy, but a bad guy with layers. His transformation from ally to adversary isn’t quite chilling, but still unnerving none the less.

Finally, we come to the character of John Fairbanks, played by Richard Denning. Fairbanks is yet another character that makes a drastic change by the time the movie is over. He begins the movie as a total wreck, having survived being shipwrecked on the island and watching all his friends gobbled up by giant monsters. After a desperate escape attempt which ultimately works, he decides the best way to cope with his ordeal is to blunt the memories with booze…lots and lots of booze. When we first meet him, he is drinking away at the bar and only the promise of a free drink gets him to move. He openly admits that he would rather die that return to the island, but once Tarnowski Shanghais him, his response to the situation is just the opposite. Rather than give in to his despair and continue to sink further into the bottle, he decides to make some changes. He sobers up and his inherent good qualities begin to manifest themselves: bravery, honor and concern for others. By film’s end he has supplanted Ted as the heroic male lead and is more in position to reap any romantic rewards from Carole, despite the two of them clashing several times at first. His personal journey is the one we all would like to think we’re capable of…not that we’re all useless drunks. Rather, everyone would like to think that given the right set of desperate circumstances, each of us could rise above our perceived limitations and excel under pressure. Fairbanks is the character we identify with most, perhaps because he acknowledges his failings before surmounting them, and we cheer him on in his attempts to save Carole and ultimately, everyone else.

The remaining characters really do not have big enough parts to really stand out, though Dick Wessel does a decent job at portraying the cranky First Mate, Sanderson. The native crew are almost caricatures, embodying many of the negative aspects some have for minorities. The film really does them a disservice, but only in modern day hindsight. Back then it was probably seen as normal. Overall, the characterizations in this film really help the story by providing realistic people with which to work.

FX.
Ugh. Where do I begin? As with many films, the special effects here can be categorized as either visual or creature FX. Visually, there is very little to talk about. Most of the action takes place on studio sets with none of the cast interacting directly with the dinosaurs. In the few scenes where the big monsters have to menace someone, rear screen projection is used to make them appear in the same shot as the hapless humans. There is one exception to this rule, when two T-Rexes attack the poor sap trying to retrieve water for the camp. Here the very first shot actually has the actor lying on the ground a few feet from the T-Rex actors, but all subsequent shots rely on the rear screen projection method, which allows for bigger monsters than what could be achieved the other way. There are also one or two instances of a matte painting (or whatever the equivalent was back then), that shows the island shore from the perspective of the ship, that look pretty good, but these are brief and if you blink you may very well miss them.

Now we come to the monster FX. These can be further broken down into two categories: model dinosaurs and men in suits. The models are the more convincing of the two, but only in the slightest sense of the word. Though they do move, they come off as stiff in some spots and overly rubbery in others. Created by Ellis Burman, who redesigned the Frankenstein monster makeup for Lon Chaney, Jr. and created the wolf-head cane for The Wolf Man (1941), they at least enjoy the distinction of looking more like living animals than the cheap rubber suits utilized to bring the T-Rexes to life. These are obvious costumes, with men inside them, no doubt sweating their underpaid asses off in the heat. Their movement is limited by the suit design and in an effort to keep from falling over, the actors can only trudge along at a snail’s pace, which one might think would lend the creatures a sense of lumbering mass, but instead just makes them come off as suffering from some sort of muscular disorder. They do not project any feeling of fear and dread. Quite the opposite in fact. It’s almost hard to take them as seriously as the characters do and not fall out of one’s chair laughing. The absolute ridiculous squealing/honking sound they make (squonking?) only adds to the unintended laughter. They just don’t sound like deadly carnivores, but more like a parrot trying its best to imitate a monkey and failing miserably.

Finally, there is the costume for the “giant sloth.” In reality it is just an old gorilla costume that was owned by Ray “Crash” Corrigan, star of westerns and serials in the 30’s and 40’s. Corrigan altered the suit for the film and even donned it to play the part of the sloth. This was nothing new for him as he had played gorillas in other films (and would go on to play the title creature in It! The Terror From Beyond Space). Of all the monsters, the sloth in Unknown Island looks the best. This is probably due to the freedom of movement that Corrigan had within the suit, which allowed the monster to jump, walk and grapple with other monsters with a greater degree of ease and lifelike movements. Still, it is a gorilla suit, and no matter what else can be said about it, it still retains that cheesy flair for which such ape suits are known. Then again, it is that exact cheesy flair which so many of us enjoy and which compels us to watch and enjoy these movies.

Music.
The original music here was by Raoul Kraushaar, who went by the name Ralph Stanley in the early days of his career. Here the music he provides can only be described as nineteen-forties-esque. In other words, it is the exact sort of music you’d expect to hear in a movie from this time period. To my ears, it could easily be lifted and placed in another type of movie – be it western, war film or adventure flick – and it would fit just as well. Some of Kraushaar’s later work would include original music for genre films like Prehistoric Women (1950), Bride of the Gorilla (1951), Untamed Women (1952), Curucu, Beast of the Amazon (1956), Island of Lost Women (1959), Billy the Kid versus Dracula (1966) and Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966). Yes, there were quite a few genre films with the word “women” in the title on which he worked.

Technique.
Given the nature of the dinosaurs and the fact that ninety-five percent of the film was filmed on sets, and I’d have to venture a guess and say that the producers didn’t have a lot of money with which to work. I know, that was a rather easy assessment for me to make. While limiting the action to sets often contributes to claustrophobic, closed in feel to a movie, this film is paced quickly enough that the action doesn’t dwell too long in any one spot. That, and those sets are not too shabby looking. Coupled with some location shooting (for the dinosaurs and biggie sloth) and the illusion that these folks are on a tropical island works well enough that dedicated viewers can get through this one with little problem.

My main problem with the film is the lack of excitement…at least from my perceptions. Sure, we see some dinosaurs and the characters even shoot at them every now and then, but there are no thrilling chases or stand offs with said creatures. In fact there really is not that much to make one think that the characters and the dinosaurs were even on the same island together, let alone in the same scene. Since this is pretty true in the real world – the actors never interacted with any of the guys in rubbers suits that played monsters – it only reinforces the notion that the people and dinosaurs were not physically close to one another at all. This has the unfortunate result of transforming any moment where the protagonists encounter a dinosaur, into nothing so much as a sequence of alternating shots. We see the dinosaurs, we see the people, we see the dinosaurs, we see the people, etc. Not only does this really kill any potential excitement, but also it almost makes the film look amateurish. And don’t say that in those years it was too hard to pull off such moments effectively. Look at King Kong. Lots of monster action there, with people in the same shots as the critters and directly interacting with them…and that was fifteen years earlier! Yeah, I know, I know…they didn’t have the budget for that kind of FX on Unknown Island.

The Summation.
When boiled down to the essentials, the film is an obvious King Kong clone, without the giant ape. Focusing more on the dinosaurs and Human derived dangers, the film has a straightforward story that stumbles some at first, but eventually finds its pacing and unfolds at an enjoyable, if a wee bit predictable manner. The writing and acting that brings the characters to life is the real strong point in this film, and the viewer should find it quite easy to relate to a few of them on some level. The actors all do a pretty good job with their characters and watching them change as the film progresses certainly injects a modicum of believability into the entire affair. At least, when it comes to the people that is true. Where the dinosaurs are concerned, it is an entirely different manner. Bluntly put, the ones that don’t look silly, look utterly crappy. Rubbery models and stiff T-Rex suits are no match for stop motion animation and this film proves it, though Ray “Crash” Corrigan shows us that the right guy in an ape suit can make a monster very menacing. Visually, the film looks good, with the Cinecolor process adding a little extra to the movie’s appearance and livening up the over use of studio sets standing in for outdoor locations. There are a couple instances of wonky rear screen projection shots to get people and monsters in the same frame, but these can be overlooked, as without them, the film seems more like two different films spliced together and would really be lacking any thrills. Overall, a decent film for its era and a great way to kill some time on a slow day, but keep in mind the poor dinosaur FX or you’ll be disappointed.

 

Expect To See:
Desert Hijinks
Desert Hijinks - The interior of the island is a barren, desert-like plain, so this icon applies even if there isn’t much that happens other than a confrontation with some T-Rexes.
Dinosaurs
Dinosaurs - Lots and lots of dinosaurs here. Well, maybe not lots and lots. More like lots. Ok, it’s really more like three different species…and technically one isn’t even a dinosaur.
Giant Monsters
Giant Monsters - Since the dinosaurs got their own icon, this one is dusted off for the big ape-like Sloth that pops up on a couple occasions.
Gunplay
Gunplay - When encountering the various lif forms on the island, the standard reaction on the part of the explorers seems to be to shoot them... a lot.
Jungle Hijinks
Jungle Hijinks - There is a lot of stomping through the jungle in this film. Well, maybe not as much as there was in Monster From Green Hell, but still quite a bit.
Ocean Hijinks
Ocean Hijinks - There is a short segment that takes place on the S.S. Pelican. Most of these scenes are filled with talk, talk, talk. However, there is an attempted mutiny.
Romance
Romance - While the relationship between Carol and Ted deteriorates, the one between her and John Fairbanks slowly blossoms. Still, it is very subtle.
Violence
Violence - This is mostly comprised of a few fistfights, though at various points in the movie people are stabbed, get shot, drown or are eaten (or possibly worse).

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Deaths: 10
Dinosaur deaths: 4
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 10
Cigarettes smoked: 18
Species of prehistoric critters: 4
Total number of dinosaurs seen: 16
Most dinosaurs seen at once: 5
Fist fights: 3
Unwanted sexual advances from Tarnowski: 2
Unwanted sexual advances from giant sloth: 1 (maybe)

01 Min – Café? The only thing being served is booze!
09 Mins - That’s a photo? Looks more like a crayon mess.
16 Mins - Stock footage alert!
23 Mins - I think I see Gilligan!
33 Mins - Wait…were those dinosaurs honking?!!
44 Mins - That guy had lousy aim.
48 Mins - Now that is a criminal waste of good booze.
59 Mins - And these are the guy that passed shop class!
69 Mins - The climactic battle between men in shitty monster costumes.
71 Mins - Carole dumps Ted. Shadow stands up and applauds


Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time Ted sounds like a whiny bitch cuz his pictures come first, or someone calls him out on his giant yellow streak, take a drink.

 

Images Click for larger image

 
“Boy, the menu in this place is
pretty limited.”


“No, we don’t have any grey
poupon in here!”



"That passing cruise ship is loaded
with naked women sunning themselves.”

 
“Judging by the size and shape, I’d
venture to say that what
made this track was…Big Bird!”



“Sorry, pal. You got picked for this
month’s random drug screening.
I’m gonna need these filled ASAP.”


“You eat it.”
“I’m not gonna eat it.”
“Hey, let’s get Mikey. He’ll eat it. He’ll
eat anything!”



“Oh, it was a gun in your pocket.
My mistake.”

John didn’t quite grasp the idea
of whiskey shooters



“Ok, who forgot to throw dirt
on the fire? Boy, is Smokey
gonna be pissed!”


“When you spoke about building a
log cabin, I thought you meant
you had to take a crap!”

“It says, ‘you two bastards snore
and fart too much, so I’m
sleeping down at the beach.’”

Now we know what was under
Ro-Man’s helmet.

 

Immortal Dialog

Tarnowski makes a bet with his first mate concerning Carole.

Tarnowski: “Hey, if my barometer is right, I think she’s giving me the once over right now.”
Sanderson: “You’re delirious. Ten bucks says so.”
Tarnowski: “And twenty more says she’ll be drinking with me in five minutes. And fifty more says that an hour from now, she and me will be…well, pals."

Shadow’s comment: An hour from now, the only thing you’re gonna be pals with is your right hand, buddy.


Fairbanks makes his thoughts on returning to the island known.

Fairbanks: “I’d blow my brains out first, before I’d go back to that island.”

Shadow’s comment: Jeff Probst’s final words before resigning from Survivor.

 

Keep In Mind
  • The clientele in your average Singapore seaside bar is about 75% Caucasian.
  • Ship captains have exceptionally thick skulls.
  • Ship captains are experts on paleontology.
  • Cameras in the 1940’s snapped photos that resembled a child’s drawing.
  • Freighter crews are renowned for their ninja-like stealth.
  • Shooting someone who is being attacked by dinosaurs is much more expedient that actually mounting a rescue effort.
  • Whiskey is a well known cure for tropical fevers.
  • Unlike their modern descendents, prehistoric sloths were huge, violent and carnivorous
  • Everyone in the 1940’s smoked constantly.



This Film & Me

This is yet another film that I had never seen before acquiring the DVD, though I had heard of it. Several times through the years when watching retrospectives on early genre or dinosaur films, this movie would get referenced. This was especially true back in 1993 when the first Jurassic Park came out and the CGI dinosaurs infesting that film were all the rage and talk of the town. Different TV shows or specials ran clips from old movies, showing the progression of the technology used to bring the creatures to life. From men in cheap suits to stop motion animation to computer generated imagery. Needless to say, the cheap ass dinosaurs in Unknown Island were at the bottom of that particular totem pole. Alas, by the time I had heard of this film, such older movies were not being shown on TV all that often, so it was not until I got the DVD super cheap via the Internet that I saw it for the first time. I remember it well. It was a Friday night and like all Fridays, I stayed up late while The Other Half passed out before eleven PM rolled around. Looking for something to watch, I popped in this film and gave it a look. Since I did not fall asleep or turn it off, but managed to get through the film in one sitting, it obviously held my interest. It’s far from the best movie in its particular field, but it still entertains.

Shadow's rating: Four Tombstones



The Good

  • Solid acting
  • Two step color better than B & W
  • Good pace, never gets boring
  • Short running time

The Bad

  • Mild case of racism when it comes to native crew
  • No one is chomped by a dinosaur
  • The long, talky opening scene
  • Needed more women
  • Poorly integrated rear projection shots

The Ugly

  • Obvious King Kong knock off
  • Horrible T-Rex costumes
  • Rubbery dinosaur models
  • Squonking (squeaking and honking) dinosaurs!
  • Shot mostly on sets

 

 

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