Almost 50 years before "Jurassic Park..." an amateur photographer, his fiancee and their companions take a perilous journey to a place where dinosaurs, giant sloths and other prehistoric creatures thrive. Filmed in vibrant... more » Cinecolor at a time when many movies were confined to black and white and featuring eye-popping special effects, "Unknown Island," directed by Jack Bernhard, offers a thrilling look at modern man's confrontation with the primordial past.« less
Joseph A. Jenkins Jr. | Forestville, MD United States | 12/22/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A tyrannesaurus with a spike on its nose? Well, I guess all the old movies got it wrong. We now know that if these meat eating dinosaurs walked upright they would break their backs. Here they do so with no trouble, in a lumbering walk fashion, and make nasty faces at visitors to the island. Would there be enough food for these monsters on an island ten miles square? Ah, real science is ruining these movies for me. Unlike most films of this genre from the 40's and 50's, it is filmed in expensive CINECOLOR. Not rated, it was released in 1948 by Albert Jay Cohen Productions Inc. The DVD is released through Image Entertainment and runs 72 minutes with no extras.It is a picture reminescent of King Kong with the sea journey and an island of jungle and prehistoric beasts. Stereotypes abound in the characters and the plot is totally predictable. Viewers may recognize scenes that were salvaged for the film, HORROR OF THE BLOOD MONSTERS (1970) with John Carradine. The plot is simple. Philip Reed, played by Ted Osborne and Virginia Grey, played by Carole Lane hire Captain Tarnowski, played by Barton MacLane, to take them by steamer to an uncharted island. During the war, Reed flew over the island and caught sight of prehistoric creatures. He wants to return and take photographs to prove his discovery. They are introduced to John Fairbanks, played by Richard Denning, the lone survivor from a shipwreck upon its shores. Surviving mutiny at sea, they reach their objective and the native crew become fodder for the beasts and the sea. The captain suffers from malaria, is a drunkard, wants a specimen for the return journey, and also wants the girl. Here is where the real plot tension emerges. Reed shows himself more interested in his photos than in Grey who sponsored the expedition. A romance buds between Fairbanks and Grey. Not giving any more away, that is about it.Richard Denning has done several films in science fiction/horror, including CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON and THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED. He gives a good performance although his sailor suit is rather silly. There is a giant sloth on the island that has taken to killing people, looks rather ape-like. The man in the suit was Ray Corrigan, who often dressed up for the movies, i.e. DR. RENAULT'S SECRET, THE WHITE GORILLA, NABONGA, and "It" in IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE. Like the dinosaurs, the costumes look silly, but hey, even Godzilla is a man in a rubber suit.The script could have used more work. Note these lines from Fairbanks: "It's quicker having your throat cut by a lascar's knife than to be crushed by a monster you don't even see or hear until a shadow as big as a mountain falls on you." Huh? Where's the logic in that? Despite the danger, Fairbanks permits Grey to go off into the jungle by herself (unarmed) saying simply, "Stay on the path." Pleeeeease! Do the dinosaurs avoid the path?As for the dinosaurs, I liked them, not because they were good, but because they were funny looking. Hey, at least they did not strap ridges and hornes to lizards and pretend they were giants! The dinosaurs get a kill but you would have to be a one-legged stroke victim to really be caught by these guys, they are so slow. The alignment in the mouthes of the creatures is a bit off and they remind me of Henson's early sock puppets.The full-screen DVD is not too bad and even younger kids can probably watch it in ease.>No nudity.
>The Captain makes unwanted advances upon Grey.
>Fight scenes and murder (hey even pirate and cowboy movies have these).
>Some hard language but nothing really foul."
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw this movie around 1950, and in my opinion it still holds up well today. The dinosaurs are not up to computer generated standards, but at least they are not lizards. And the movie avoids my least favorite cliche, that of an exploding volcano. The movie does follow the template for a lost world story, with the deliberate buildup, being stranded, character conflicts, attacks by monsters, etc, but it has a good script within these limitations and the characters are well acted. I was also pleasantly surprised by the tape quality, the colors especially not being faded. All in all, a classic movie of its type."
First Color Dinosaurs
R. Christenson | Pine, CO USA | 05/21/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you're a fan of Harryhausen, O'Brien, and movies like Mighty Joe Young, The Lost World, and Valley of The Gwangi, this one is a must to complete your collection. I'm not sure how the monsters were done - some look like men in suits, but better.
The plot's similar to King Kong - a sea voyage to a monster island. I believe it's the first feature film about dinosaurs in color. One of the monsters is a giant sloth that looks like a modified gorilla suit - certainly not as cute as the sloth in Ice Age. But scarier than many movie monsters.
The stars are much better than in the typical "B" monster movies - Virginia Grey, Richard Denning, and Barton MacLane were respected actors in their day."
My favorite movie as a kid
William M. Johnson | Manassas, VA USA | 11/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was the first dinosaur movie I saw as a kid. I still think it's a great flick. It helped kindle a life long interest in dinosaurs. So what if the monsters are fakey."
A really fun island/jungle adventure!
Patrick W. Crabtree | Lucasville, OH USA | 10/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I really enjoyed this film, although I never saw it in my youth. It was shot in Cinecolor which, I think, must have been a "two-strip" process. As a result you see a lot of cheesy pastels but the skin tones are great. Now granted, the monsters are pretty hokey in this one and it's clear that the "beach" is a studio one... but, somehow, I still liked it. This flick is sort of a King Kong rip-off with no central monster to love or to hate. So, the principals shoot at darn near every one that they see. There are some cool weapons and the casting is near perfect, even though there are no big stars here. All in all, as a baby boomer and horror/sci-fi film nut, I find this film a nice nostalgic return to the good old days."