Saturday, December 2, 2006

Mysterious Island

Mysterious Island (1961)

Directed by: Cy Enfield
Written by: John Prebble, Daniel Ullman & Crane Wilbur, based on L'Îlle Mystérious by Jules Verne.
Starring: Michael Craig, Michael Callan, Beth Rogan, Joan Greenwood, Gary Merrill, Percy Herbert, Dan Jackson, Herbert Lom

This movie is strangely entertaining. It's about a bunch of Civil War POWs who steal a balloon and sail to this crazy island, where they get attacked by giant animals and shit. All this has something to do with Captain Nemo. Sounds pretty fucking moronic, but it captured my attention for some reason.

Perhaps it's the stop motion effects by Ray Harryhausen. They were really quite good, considering that they were made 45 years ago. Sure, CGI can be a lot more impressive than stop motion (if used correctly), but dammit, stop motion looks really cool, and in this particular case, it was fairly well blended with the live action footage. Well enough to keep me happy at least.

Besides, the monsters were just plain cool, the giant crab being my favourite. It all has a King Kong feel to it, but that's okay. Kong's probably a hell of a lot better than this, but crabs are kind of scarier than monkies.

The two lovers (which seem to be mandatory in this kind of movie) are totally lame. Michael Callan (who was in lots of stuff I've never heard of) is a dork, and not a very good actor. He also looks kind of disturbingly like Elvis. And the girl was totally ridiculous. Her dress was repulsive to me, and I couldn't stand to look at it. A woman of the 1860s would never have worn something like that. I mean, really. It's obscene. And her underwear was showing. And it wasn't period underwear. I saw no pantaloons or corsets or things like that.

Joan Greenwood, on the other hand, I rather like. She has a very... interesting voice, which pleases me so.

I was a little confused by the Captain Nemo factor. I haven't read the book, of course, so I don't know if Nemo's supposed to be there or not. It just strikes me as a little strange that he sort of popped up, kind of getting his Moreau on, in a very general sense.

Still, the movie is entertaining. It's just a little silly, and frustrating if you think about it too much. It's not supposed to be really deep. It's just supposed to be a stupid teenie monster movie. (I'm not actually sure of that, what with all of the anti-war remarks in there. I would treat it as a silly monster movie, at any rate).


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