Union soldiers escape from a Confederate prison
in a hot air balloon. They end up on an isolated island in the
The castaways encounter natural beauty, as well as giant animals,
which they kill and feast on. The men establish a secure base
in a cave high up a cliff. Two women wash up on the beach, bringing
a welcome feminine touch to the island.
Our heroes discover that Captain Nemo (thought to be dead) is
alive and on the island. Nemo helps them raise a ship from the
ocean bottom to escape the island in. The island's volcano blows
its top, killing Nemo and destroying his sub the Nautilus. Our
heroes escape to safety aboard the newly raised ship.
Director Cy Endfield's MYSTERIOUS ISLAND is a thoroughly entertaining
Sci-Fi adventure classic.
On a raining night in 1865, Union soldiers, a journalist, and
a rebel stowaway exit a Confederate prison camp in a hot air balloon.
After drifting for days, they crash in a storm and end up on an
isolated island in the Pacific.
Michael Craig (Vault of Horror) is a bit of a stick in the lead
role of the head of the shipwrecked group. He comes across like
Fess Parker, minus the folksy charm.
Michael Callan (Cat Ballou) plays the standard 1950's/60's teen
dream character, who finds romance and adventure on the island.
He doesn't sing, however, so I'm not complaining.
Ray Harryhausen's justly acclaimed stop motion photographic/model
work (Jason and the Argonauts) is put to great use here. Scenes
in involving a giant crab, huge bird, and a jumbo-size swarm of
bees are a delight to behold. My favorite scene is a battle between
our heroes and the giant bird, resulting in a huge dinner feast.
The Screenplay, by John Prebble, Daniel Ullman, and Crane Wilbur,
based on the novel by Jules Verne, contains some good dialogue.
When young Callan asks how a crab could have grown so huge, cynical
newspaper man Gary Merrill (All About Eve) retorts, "From
eating those giant oysters, obviously."
Although Captain Nemo doesn't show up until rather late in the
picture, he's worth waiting for. With white hair and beard, and
a cultured yet dramatic manner, Herbert Lom (The Dead Zone) is
a worthy successor to James Mason's famous Nemo from "20,000
Leagues Under the Sea".
Director of Photography, Wilkie Cooper, ably captures Harryhausen's
stop motion creations, the natural beauty of the island locations,
and the film's various beautiful matte paintings of mountains,
cliffs, and a volcano.
The Music, by the great Bernard Herrmann, is rousing, stirring,
and dramatic. It doesn't hurt that the London Symphony Orchestra
MYSTERIOUS ISLAND will be highly watchable for most Sci-Fi viewers.
Ray Harryhausen fans will have a field day. MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
is a destination worth seeing.
If you enjoyed MYSTERIOUS ISLAND your best bets include:
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH and 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA.