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December 30, 2012

Movie Review: Mysterious Island - Captain Harding’s Fabulous Adventures! (1952- Cheezy Flicks)

Mysterious Island- Captain Harding’s Fabulous Adventures! (1952 - Cheezy Flicks)

Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet

Starring Richard Crane, Marshall Reed and Karen Randle
Run-Time: 252 minutes

The year is 1865, the Civil War is raging and a small group of Union prisoners use a military balloon to escape from a Southern Prison camp. The balloon drifts for days and finally lands on a mysterious volcanic island filled with some very strange inhabitants. Also landing, (in a space ship that looks like a tea kettle) is Rulu, a somewhat hot female from Mercury and her band of henchmen. Rulu and her crew are there seeking a radioactive material that will enable them to manufacture an explosive that will destroy the entire Earth. Its up to Captain Harding and his men to not only stop Rulu from accomplishing her evil plans but fight off natives, pirates and a wild-man, as well as dealing with the enigmatic Captain Nemo himself.

Personally, I have always relished the opportunity to watch these old serial’s from the 50‘s. I watched my first one with my old man on television as a kid back in the 70‘s. I remember how much fun he had with it, and his laughter was pretty contagious. They are now a sort of forgotten cinematic genre but thanks to the folks at Cheezy Flicks they are finally available for newer generations to discover and enjoy.

Mysterious Island was the 46th serial released by Columbia Pictures and is of coarse an adaptation of the 1874 novel by Jules Verne. Divided into 15 chapters, it actually stays pretty true to the original story, that is except for the addition of the Mercurian aliens added to spice up the plot. (And for any serial-geeks out there, did you happen to notice that the Mercurian henchmen were wearing the exact same headgear that “The Spider” wore in the two previous Columbia serial’s?)
Now as far as serial’s go, Mysterious Island is definitely a cut above the rest. For me it had a real old-school western feel to it, as most all of the action involves saloon-style fight scenes as well as countless gun-fights between our hero’s and marauding pirates and ray-gun toting aliens.

One unique element that this serial has as opposed to most others, are the many simultaneous story-lines going on throughout. Between the Union soldiers dealing with the aggressive scheming of the natives, the pirates (led by Captain Shard) and the aliens, as well as the wild-man, Ayrton, and Captain Nemo, there is a lot going in this story. For me that was a good thing, as a lot of these old serials were made in a very simplistic fashion so as to not confuse the younger audiences that they were meant to be viewed by. This one will keep you on your toes a little more then most.

Sure, its goofy and ridiculous and about as far removed from reality as you can get, but therein lies a huge part of its charm. The atrocious over-acting actually saved a very clunky script and in this particular cinematic medium that just seemed to add a deliciously unintentional comedic feel to the story. Loosely Translated~ This is some good old fashioned, G-rated cheesy fun.

At 252 minutes from start to finish, this probably isn't something your gonna want to sit down and bang out in one evening, as the action, even in something this fun, can get a bit repetitious. Now with that being said, these old serial’s were tailor-made for dvd’s, as you can watch as many episodes as you like, at your leisure and it helps keep things fairly fresh. I broke it up into 3 episodes a night and got almost a weeks worth of fun out of it. And for the insanely cheap price that Cheezy Flicks is offering this DVD at, this is as great a deal as you can get anywhere for the amount of fun that is served up.

Go out and order this one up, its a total blast from the past and some stellar 50's pulp-cinema.

I score it 8 out of 10


As with all of the DVDs released by Cheezy Flicks, your going to get a heaping dose of amazing trailers from some of the worst (and most beloved) movies ever. As Well as some rare and vintage theater advertising and public service announcements.

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