Terror Aboard (1933)

Article #1107 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-26-2004
Posting Date: 8-23-2004
Directed by Paul Sloane
Featuring John Halliday, Charles Ruggles, Shirley Grey

When the owner of a luxury yacht discovers that his fraudulent business schemes have made him an outlaw who will be arrested the second he comes to port, he decides to dispose of the crew and guests aboard the yacht and escape to a deserted island with the woman he loves.

This movie starts out with a very intriguing sequence in which the crew of a boat discover a yacht cruising in circles in the middle of the ocean. When they board the boat, one member of the crew is attacked, and the others find several corpses, including a woman lying on the deck who has frozen to death in the middle of the tropical climates. The movie then switches to the flashback that marks the main story, and by that time your curiosity is so piqued that you are already caught up in the nightmarish scenario that unfolds. In some ways, it’s like one of those old dark house movies where people are killed off one by one (except in this case, we know who the murderer is beforehand) or like one of those revenge movies where somebody kills off a group of people who have wronged him (except in this case, it is not revenge but the desire to cover his tracks that is the motive). At any rate, it is fascinating to watch the man’s schemes unfold, as he uses every means imaginable; though most of the murders are just that, in other cases he uses emotional manipulation to get certain people to kill each other or themselves. It’s only marginally a horror movie, but it makes for gripping viewing nonetheless. Unfortunately, because the movie is so effective in presenting its succession of murders, the comic relief character (Charles Ruggles as a superstitious steward) comes off as intrusive; it’s not a bad performance by any means, but every time he appears he brings the story to a dead halt, and that hampers the momentum and the suspense somewhat. Nevertheless, this is one impressive little thriller.



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