Bindy Sue Frønkünschtein | under the rubble | 11/03/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As much as I love Boris Karloff, VOODOO ISLAND is a complete dog-log of a movie! Boris plays a TV host who debunks all things supernatural. He's hired by a zillionaire hotel magnate to go to an island and find out what happened to four men who went there. Only one of them returned, and he's zombified! So, Boris and five others set out for VOODOO ISLAND in the south pacific (!). Sounds like a terrific set-up right? Forget it! Our adventurers spend fully half of the movie's running time just trying to get to the island! Along the way, they meet a young Adam "Batman" West as a radio operator. Finally, they arrive on the island, where they spend loads of time talking and wandering around. A few man-eating plants attack, including some aquatic flora that reminded me of the ridiculous monsters in ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES. Nope, Boris can't save this one! One cool scene shows a little girl being eaten by a plant monster. Alas, this is the only such scene. THE FOUR SKULLS OF JONATHAN DRAKE is actually pretty good. The Drake family men have been dying at age 60 ever since an ancestor slaughtered a tribe in south america. Jonathan's brother has just died, winding up as a headless corpse! Now Jonathan knows he is next on the list. Enter Dr. Zurich (Henry "The Body Snatcher" Daniell) as the local anthropologist / voodoo witchdoctor, bent on shrinking Jonathon's head down to the size of grapefruit! His head-hunting servant is a highlight, with his mouth sewn shut and shoes made of human skin! FOUR SKULLS is a frightful fiesta for the fear freak! It is worth the price of this double feature..."
The Power Of Voodoo
Stanley Runk | Camp North Pines | 10/01/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Who will escape from Voodoo Island? If the maneating plants don't kill them first, the boredom will. Yes, Voodoo Island is rather dull. I certainly don't set my standards too high when dealing with old B pictures, but a B film director has accomplished something rather rare when he makes a schlock picture that's not even mildly amusing. The film has a pretty short running time, and our cast doesn't even get to the island till about 40-45 minutes through the film. Alot of dilly-dallying up to that point. Karloff gives a good performance as a skeptic who likes to debunk superstitious theories, but he really can't even save this film. The natives on this island are about as threatening as the three stooges, and you don't see hardly enough of the maneating plants which are the only interesting thing in the film. It's very anticlimatic as well. Don't read any further if you honestly want to keep the ending of Voodoo Island a surprise. The civilization on this island purposely turned it's back on the rest of the world and wants to keep the island and it's people a secret. Is there a big showdown between Karloff and the chief? No. Karloff says, "Don't worry, we won't tell anyone" and the chief says, "Oh, alright, you can all go". That's the end to the terror and menace of Voodoo Island.
The Four Skins Of Jonathan Drake is naturally the better film of the two. It concerns a curse killing off the men of the Drake family, and the last man, Jonathan's attempts to stop it. The witchdoctor(a native Indian's body with a white man's head) and his assistant(a guy who looks like he tried to swallow a sneaker and has the laces hanging out of his mouth) try to get their hands on the slippery Jonathan Drake. Lots of cool shrunken heads in this one. A decent film, that's where the three stars go. I don't know if it's just my dvd, but there were a few glitches on the Voodoo Island side of the disc. Lots of skipping, as though you hit the FF button on your remote at the lowest setting. Maybe I just got ahold of a bad copy, but there are no scratches on the disc. Buy with caution."
Wow! What a bargain!
Patrick W. Crabtree | Lucasville, OH USA | 12/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, this is NOT a 2-disc set like it states in the data relating to this film, so don't be expecting that -- both movies are on one disc (one movie on each side) which is fine with me since they are both of very high quality.
If you're a cult film junkie like myself, you'll find that both of these films are a superb treat, "Voodoo Island" being slightly the better of the two. I'll address that one first:
This is a very well-shot B&W film with Boris Karloff radiating at its very center, only in this movie he does NOT play a monster. It was this film that showed me what a very fine actor Karloff really was. He plays a fairly genteel, but rugged, TV show personality who's investigating why a guy turned into a zombie on Voodoo Island, in the South Pacific (actually, shot in Hawaii). A developer wants to build a resort hotel there and he employs the hard-hitting Karloff to clear the way.
You'll see some other familiar cult film faces in this fine movie -- Elisha Cook, Jr., who played the strange little guy (homeowner) in the 1958 version of "House on Haunted Hill", (another awesome movie!), also does an equally fine job in this film. You'll similarly enjoy the man-eating (well... woman-eating) plants on Voodoo Island -- in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way, they're to die for!
And the grande coup for me was when, to my joy, I discovered that Les Baxter ("The Pit and the Pendulum," "Tales of Terror," and "The Raven", all AIP films), did the filmscore for this one. It's one of my very favorites, being of the atmospheric late 50s/early 60s-type of "atmospheric jungle score." Compare this mood music to to that in the great 1959 Frank Sinatra WW II (color) film, "Never so Few", (filmscore by the great Hugo Friedhofer).
I found that the clarity of the shots and locations in this one were just absolutely superb. There are a couple of goofy script spots in the film (e.g., the redundant calling on the radio at one point in the film), but this wasn't enough of a distraction to impact the larger story. There is a definite sense of nostalgia about this film, from the music to the old Douglas aircraft in which the principals fly into the islands -- most Baby Boomers will pick up on it.
The final super bonus is that this one was digitized from a 35 mm print, if you're interested in such minutia, and this IS a nice clear print. Wow! I LOVE watching this flick on my 32" flatscreen wide screen TV. It's just great!
As for "The Four Skulls of Johnathan Drake", I found this to be as much of a mystery (which helps to make it great) as it is a horror film and I liked it a great deal. Again the sets and locations were super (well, at least, fun) and, for me at least, this one doesn't ever drag at all. It also helps that this is another "voodoo jungle film"...sort of. I REALLY like jungle films, especially black magic ones, and while you don't get a sense of "jungle" here, you still get the ominous Hivaro Indian slinking around with his mouth sewn shut.
As far as the cast, with Paul Cavanaugh and Henry Daniell (playing a spectacular chief evil-doer, Dr. Zurich) included here, who could possibly ask for more? They're both incredible in this film. It's a very good 1959 B&W flick that I enjoy viewing over and over."
Four Skulls gets Five stars
Charles H. Levenson | new jersey | 01/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Henry Daniels,who played numerous villians during his long career,among which was the nefarious Professor Moriarity against Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes in this film plays the creepy Dr.Zurich,an undead scientist attempting to fulfill a 100 plus year old curse against the Drake family...Don't get me wrong,this film does have a few plotline holes,and as compared with today's horror films it is rather tame,but it also has it's creepy elements,which alone should be enough to warrant your interest..."