Captain Mephisto and the Transformation Machine (1966)

Feature Version of the Serial MANHUNT OF MYSTERY ISLAND
Article 2041 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-16-2006
Posting Date: 3-15-2007
Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet, Yakima Canutt, Wallace Grissell
Featuring Roy Barcroft, Richard Bailey, Linda Stirling

An investigator does battle with a pirate intent on getting his hands on a secret invention.

MANHUNT OF MYSTERY ISLAND is one of the better serials out there, but this feature version of it does no more worthwhile a job of turning it into a workable feature than most of the other attempts at this that I’ve seen, Beyond that, I have little more to say about this one.

I think that if there’s one thing I’m looking forward to in this series, it’s the moment when I finally have done with watching these feature versions of serials. Never more than when I’m watching these do I get the feeling that I’m doing little more than checking a number off of a list. These are also the movies that give me the greatest sense of “cinema as product” (as opposed to “cinema as art” or “cinema as entertainment”), probably because they aren’t even really movies. Even watching Jerry Warren movies at their dullest gives me more of a sense of doing something worthwhile than these do.

Yet, at the same time, there’s a touch of sadness to the whole thing. There’s a part of me that wants every movie to be available, no matter what my opinion is of its worth. These feature versions of serials served a purpose at one time, but that time is long gone, and with the availability and marketability of full serials, I see very little future for these feature versions. Though I’ve watched plenty of them, there are still quite a few that have eluded me entirely, and I think as time goes by, they will only become harder to find. And this saddens me.

MISSILE MONSTERS is the feature version of a serial that has been on my list the longest without my having successfully found a copy. If I ever do find it, I’ll probably think it stinks. But I’ll be glad I found it. And that’s the irony of this whole project.


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