Unknown Island (1948)

Article #1292 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-27-2004
Posting Date: 2-24-2005
Directed by Jack Bernhard
Featuring Virginia Grey, Philip Reed, Richard Denning

Several adventurers journey to an island reputed to have living dinosaurs on it.

PRC may have been one of the cheapest of the Poverty Row studios, but they did make their share of fairly decent genre flicks that managed to work within the budget limitations. However, I don’t think an epic dinosaur adventure movie (in color) really lay within their means, and as you might expect, the dinosaurs are singularly lame. The brontosauruses have the movement range of one of those bobbing birds (though the brontos move much slower), and the Tyrannosaurs are obviously men in uncomfortable suits who move so slowly that Kharis the mummy could outrun them; the most impressive move I could see from one of these beasts was their ability to fall down, and that’s not a compliment. My print wasn’t really good enough for me to tell if the puppets were slurpasaurs or vice versa, but it doesn’t really matter. The most palpable horror in the movie is a guy in a somewhat doctored gorilla outfit, and it doesn’t speak well for the movie to say that I didn’t realize he was a giant monster until he goes one on one with one of the Tyrannosaurs late in the movie. These aren’t the worst dinosaurs I’ve seen in a movie (THE MIGHTY GORGA, anyone?), but I don’t think anyone was impressed.

Given the quality of the dinosaurs, it’s no surprise that most of the story concentrates on the human characters. Still, even these are disappointing; the basic conflicts are the usual triangle (with a lecherous sea captain thrown in for extra excitement), and a variety of rather cliche situations and characters. There’s not much to recommend here, though I will express surprise that the thing was even made. And even cheap dinos like this still can be a little bit of fun.

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