Just when you thought I was done watching Jules Verne based movies, one more pops right up. Now I honestly did not know that today’s movie was based on a Jules Verne novel when I bought it. This was simply part of a B-movie double feature that I bought solely because of the title. It also helped that it had Peter Cushing in it, even though it was a minor role. So let’s go ahead and finish off the letter M with today’s movie, Mystery On Monster Island.
The plot: On a tropical island, three men are chasing after and shooting at another man named Flint. They wound Flint but he manages to duck into a cave so the follow after. Seeing an opening for a lower chamber, they climb down the ladder to search for Flint but find stacks of gold bars instead. Flint pulls up the ladder and says they will die down there but he ends up getting shot again. Flint grabs some dynamite and blows up the cavern but one of the men manages to escape but is severely burned. The man makes his way towards a long boat and makes his way back to the ship that brought him there. The captain of the ship, Taskinar, questions the man about the gold and the injured man hands him a gold bar but dies before he can say where it was hidden and Taskinar is forced to set sail for San Francisco. In San Francisco, Professor Thomas Artelect is teaching a dance class to his student Meg when they are interrupted by Jeff Morgan, who accidentally shoots the mirror in the room while shooting at some targets outside. Meanwhile, Jeff’s uncle William T. Kolderup is attending an auction and bidding on an island called Spencer Island when Taskinar shows up and tries to outbid him. When Kolderup bids $5 million, Taskinar storms off as the auctioneer calls out that the island is sold to Kolderup. Back at his mansion, Kolderup is speaking with Jeff and talking about having a party to announce the engagement of Jeff and Meg but Jeff wants to postpone the wedding until he has traveled the world, feeling he must do so to become a man in his own right. When Meg agrees with Jeff, Kolderup agrees to let Jeff go, then has Artelect accompany him. Kolderup and Meg see Jeff and Artelect off as they board one of Kolderup’s ships but as they set sail, Meg tells Kolderup she is worried she will never see Jeff again, while Taskinar watches them. As the ship sails along, Jeff finds a stowaway and the captain wants to throw him overboard but Jeff appeals to the captain to show mercy and the captain reluctantly agrees, to which the stowaway thanks Jeff. Some time later, Artelect rushes into Jeff’s room and tells him that the ship is on fire. Jeff and Artelect go looking for the crew and find them dead and strange monsters try to attack them. Jeff and Artelect are forced to jump overboard just before the ship explodes. Jeff comes too on an island and finds Atrelect covered in seaweed on the beach and the two go looking for more survivors as well as shelter. Taking shelter in a cave for the night, Jeff goes looking for food while Artelect tries building a fire. When Jeff sees some smoke, he tells Artelect that there might be other survivors on the islansd and they go looking for who started the fire but find a grave as well as small shelter. Exploring the shelter, they find a chest full of supplies and weapons as well as a chimpanzee, which they take back to the cave and start making it more habitable. Some time later, Jeff sees some natives coming ashore and he goes to investigate with Artelect. They watch as the natives tie another native between two trees and prepare to kill him but Jeff and Artelect chase off the natives and save the prisoner. The native thanks them in his native language and Jeff and Artelect call him Carefinatu, believing that to be his name. They start to take Carefinatu back to their cave when Carefinatu points out a large footprint on the ground. Suddenly, they are attacked by large dinosaur-like monsters and they are forced to hide in a nearby cave and escape out another opening. Reaching their encampment, the group work on strengthening the defenses around their cave. Later, they are on the beach to see if a boat they repaired will float when they are attacked by strange seaweed covered monsters and find themselves trapped but the chimpanzee manages to drop a rope ladder which they use to climb to safety. That night, a group of masked bandits approach their cave and after climbing over the fence, set fire to the door of the cave in order to smoke Jeff and the others out. Waking due to the smoke, Jeff, Artelect, and Carefinatu are forced to head deeper into the cave and discover a chamber filled with giant, steam-billowing caterpillars and are forced to run from them. Escaping the caterpillars, they find a chamber where the walls are made of gold but are forced to run when another monster attempts to attack them. Artelect falls into a water filled chamber and Jeff and Carefinatu jump in after him and, seeing light coming from a section of the wall, they swim underwater and come out on the shore of the beach. Seeing a ship in the distance, they attempt to start a signal fire but when that fails, decide to try using their boat only to find it has been smashed. The boat sails off and Artlect begins to despair, blaming Jeff for his being stuck on the island. The three men head into the jungle to find a new place to take shelter when they come across Dominique Blanchard, who had been shipwrecked on the island for a year. Dominique takes them to the cave she calls home. As they are eating and dancing, the bandits approach the cave but Carefinatu sees them approach and manages to hide while the others are taken captive. The leader of the bandits asks them where the gold is and when they threaten to kill Dominique, Jeff tells them, but gives them the wrong directions. As the bandit leader and most of his men head off, Carefinatu manages to knock out one of the guards while the other runs due to the volcano erupting. Carefinatu frees Jeff and the others and they head back to Dominique’s cave but realizing she doesn’t have any weapons, they take the gunpowder she has and head back to their own cave. When the bandits attack them, Jeff and the others manage to hold them off for a while but are forced to retreat back into the cave. Barricading the door, they escape into the cave while Jeff uses the gunpowder as a bomb. Jeff and the others make their way through the cave and the bandits follow but when they see the gold walls of the cavern, the leader decides to kill them. Jeff uses the last of the gunpowder to cause a cave-in that scares off the bandits while he and the others escape. Reaching the beach, they decide to climb a hill to get a better look at things. Carefinatu suddenly begins speaking English and he explains that he is an actor and that everything was set up by Jeff’s uncle but the bandits are real, and Dominique says she doesn’t know anything about it. Seeing their ship in the distance, the group head to the beach, where they are greeted by Meg and Kolderup and some of the ship’s crew. The bandits appear and surround the group and the leader reveals himself as Taskinar. When the volcano erupts, Jeff manages to draw his pistol on Taskinar but Dominique holds a pistol on Meg, revealing that she is working with Taskinar and forcing Jeff to drop his gun. When some fireworks explode on the beach, Jeff and the sailors attack the bandits and manage to overpower them while Meg manages to subdue Dominique but Taskinar escapes only to be captured by the stowaway, who was also in on the charade and they all prepare to head back to San Francisco, as Jeff feels he has had enough adventure on the island to last a life time.
So this was an interesting example of the typical 80’s low budget movie. The acting was ok but while Ian Sera (Jeff) was kind of one dimensional as far as a lead character, David Hatton (Artelect) was great as comedic relief, especially with his interactions with the chimpanzee. The plot was interesting and did provide a decent twist but it was a bit predictable. The special effects were definitely on the low end of the scale, as the monsters looked really bad, even though they were supposed to be bad. I also thought it was stupid that the “monsters” that attacked the ship were holding flares, as that should have been a major clue that they were fake. It’s not a bad movie but it is definitely one of those ones that made a living on late night cable showings.
Rating: 2 out of 5