Fog Island is a 1945 American mystery-suspense film with horror overtones directed by Terry O. Morse from a screenplay by Pierre Gendron, based on the 1937 play Angel Island by Bernadine Angus. It stars George Zucco, Lionel Atwill, and Jerome Cowan.
In 1956, Terry O. Morse directed the additional American scenes for the US release of Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
A recent ex-convict named Leo Grainer (Zucco) lives secluded on Fog Island with the daughter of his murdered wife. Seeking to learn who murdered her, and to exact revenge on those who framed him and destroyed his business, he invites his former associates to his creepy island mansion on the pretext he may share a hidden fortune with them.
Prior to their arrival, he rigs the mansion with secret passages and a trap. Then, once his guests arrive, he gives each a clue, including his stepdaughter and butler. This successfully pits everyone against the others and plays on their greed. What then transpires is conflict, revealed mysteries, sudden death, and an unlikely resolution…
Reviews [click links to read more]:
“An old dark house tale transposed to an island, the film is somewhat stage bound yet conveys a charm and innocence all its own. Of course, the manor on the edge of the sea is equipped with sliding panels, secret passageways, skulls, suits of armor, an imposing organ and the requisite phony psychic dispensing astrological advice, actress DeWitt in a turban!” Christopher Dietrich, DVD Drive-In
” …while the film gets off to a grand start, doldrums set in once the focus shifts from Zucco to his paranoid guests. And the romantic subplot with his stepdaughter and her old college friend slows things down too. At least the climax, where all the villains get their comeuppance is pretty cool.” Mitch Lovell, The Video Vacuum
“More style and more generous budget could have gone a long way in putting Fog Island over the top as a Poverty Row mini-classic. As it is, we can still enjoy it for its moments of intrigue and full-throttle performances of horror standbys Zucco and Atwill.” Tom Weaver, Poverty Row Horrors! Monogram, PRC and Republic Horror Films of the Forties, McFarland Classics, 1993
“A creaky but enjoyable gothic noir, with secret passageways and skulls galore […] Atwill, Cowan, Zucco and Borg all deliver the sort of professional performances you might expect, and DeWit is excellent.” John Grant, Noirish
“Acting-wise, the cast does a pretty good job, but the unintentional comedy is what makes this movie watchable more so than the attempts at building suspense. The way virtually every single line that Zucco utters is dripping with ominous double-meanings and the way the villainous supporting cast are creeping around after each other in the darkened hallways are the source of many giggles.” Steve Miller, Shades of Gray
“The story has some nice points, particularly when the guests receive an assortment of curious party favors that are supposed to lead them to a treasure, but things get a little confusing at times and certain characters seem extraneous. Otherwise, it’s a fitfully amusing revenge movie with horror overtones.” Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
“Considering all things, Fog Island does manage to provide a fair amount of entertainment, especially from Zucco and Atwill, though Sharon Douglas and John Witney as the young couple show a little flare as well. That being said, it is not an essential viewing and unless a huge fan of any one of these stars, is not worth seeking out.” The Telltale Mind
“The big confrontation scene where Zucco and Atwill pull out all the dramatic stops and hammer away at each other (accent on ham) with histrionic abandon has – no kidding – real chemistry, made all the more compelling by being shot practically in the dark to hide the cheapo sets.” Dan Stumpf, Mystery*File
Main cast and characters:
- George Zucco as Leo Grainer
- Lionel Atwill as Alec Ritchfield
- Jerome Cowan as Kavanaugh
- Sharon Douglas as Gail
- Veda Ann Borg as Sylvia
- John Whitney as Jeff
- Jacqueline deWit as Emiline Bronson
- Ian Keith as Doctor Lake
- George Lloyd as Allerton the Butler
Image credits: The Telltale Mind