Fog Island [DVD] [1945]

This is one neat DVD. No, Terry Morse's Fog Island, made at PRC, isn't remotely in a league with any of Edgar G. Ulmer's work for the Poverty Row studio, but it is more than entertaining enough to justify purchasing this disc. The movie has a killer cast, led by George Zucco (in a very unusual role for him), Lionel Atwill, Jerome Cowan, and Veda Ann Borg, that gives it the veneer of a big studio production; that effect is further enhanced by some reasonably opulent sets, which make the picture good to look at, and the movie's tale of revenge is well worth the screen time it takes to tell it. The source for the disc is a good condition 16mm print, with about as much detail as those used for authorized television broadcasts back in the 1960's. Given that Fog Island never made it to laserdisc and hasn't been seen in an authorized version since its copyright lapsed in 1973, it's difficult to be harsh in judging the soft focus of the movie's few wide shots, and the rest of the picture -- all medium shots and close-ups -- generally looks fine, apart from a few stray vertical lines and the occasional damaged frame. A few already dark shots are a slight bit darker than they need have been under ideal conditions, but never so severely as to mar our viewing pleasure. And the sound is excellent, which is important in this movie, which uses about the densest background score (courtesy of Karl Hajos and a couple of classical composers) ever heard in a PRC production. The menu, simple as usual for Alpha Video, opens automatically on start-up, and the company has started gracing its DVDs with six chapters instead of the usual five. The actual running time here, incidentally, is 69 minutes, not the 72 minutes officially designated, but nothing is missing that this viewer can find -- and any intact PRC release to be had for under $10 on DVD is not to be ignored.
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Fog Island
An early low-budget spin on Ten Little Indians, this cheap but entertaining PRC production features a wonderful cast of familiar B-movie faces, particularly George Zucco and Lionel Atwill. Zucco plays a man wrongfully imprisoned after being framed for his wife's murder by one of his colleagues. After his release, he joins forces with a mad inventor to carry out his long-awaited plans of revenge, inviting a group of his former associates to a remote island mansion -- which is enveloped in a thick perpetual fog and rigged with a plethora of lethal booby-traps -- in an effort to reveal and destroy the guilty party. Rather cheap-looking but boasting some remarkable special effects, this film is worth a look for its pairing of the wonderfully hammy Atwill and Zucco. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • George Zucco
    George Zucco - Leo Grainger
  • Lionel Atwill
    Lionel Atwill - Alec Ritchfield
  • Jerome Cowan
    Jerome Cowan - Kavanaugh
  • Image coming soon
    Sharon Douglas - Gail
  • Veda Ann Borg
    Veda Ann Borg - Sylvia
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