HAUNTED HARBOR (1944)
(a.k.a. PIRATES’ HARBOR)
Article #1469 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-23-2005
Posting Date: 8-20-2005
Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Wallace Grissell
Featuring Jim Marsden, Kay Aldridge, Roy Barcroft
In order to recover his gold and clear his name, a seaman must discover the secret identity of a man named Carter and brave the terrors of Haunted Harbor.
When this serial was first released, it was the year of movies like THE UNINVITED; ghosts being big that year, the word “haunted” probably seemed like a fine adjective. When it was re-released several years later, it was after TREASURE ISLAND was a big hit, and I’m willing to bet that was why the title was changed to PIRATES’ HARBOR (the title on my copy of the serial). Oddly enough, there are no ghosts nor pirates to be found, but somehow, that doesn’t surprise me. It does, however, have a mechanical sea serpent, and even though you know it’s mechanical, that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. They even save the creature for the middle of the serial rather than trotting it out in the first episode, so I can’t complain about the serial spinning its wheels during the middle.
All in all, this is definitely one of the better serials out there. It does run on a bit too long, but the cliffhangers are quite entertaining, it does have an air of mystery about it, and it never once dedicates any of its episodes to a recap. Still, I couldn’t help notice that Kay Aldridge’s heroine, spunky as she is, has a hair-trigger faint mechanism; basically, she’ll go out every time she lightly bumps into a wall (I wonder if she finds it dangerous to brush her hair). And someday I’d like to start a school for aspiring serial heroes, simply so I could teach them how to use the brakes on their vehicles; they would get out of any number of perilous situations (and save money on insurance as well) if they used this method to avoid traffic accidents rather than abandoning the vehicle at every opportunity.