We all have silly or weird movies or shows that stick in our memories from our childhood. Confession: this was one of mine. I remember it terrifying me. Rewatching it for the first time in over 40 years, I suspect what got me wasn’t the horror but rather the meta of the movie; even if I didn’t understand that at the time. Roger Corman wasn’t the best writer (an understatement, I realize) but his clunky, arch scripts had some truly disturbing ideas behind them. This one, for all its silliness, does as well. It riffs on identity, immortality, and even desperation about living on an island that is slowly being destroyed (this was the late 50s, so think island Earth). Intentional or not, the zeitgeist of the era is here beneath the really embarrassing and short-cutted story. But that’s a lot to pack into a 60 minute film.
One of the real highlights is getting to see a young Russell Johnson, before his days as his iconic Professor on Gilligan’s Island. In fact, you can see how this film led to that role. He is the only actor in the cast that take the convoluted and clunky script and makes it sound natural.
When you have an hour to kill and want to see a representative low-budget horror of the era, this can be fun to watch and make fun of all at once. It is what it is, but it will always have a place in my psyche, much like the original Piranah (as opposed to the remake).