Cult Classics: 'Mysterious Island'
The release of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island in theaters this weekend provides a gem of an opportunity to shine the spotlight on one of my favorite movies as a kid: The 1961 version of Mysterious Island.
Based on Jules Verne's imaginative 1874 novel about a group of escaped Civil War castaways stranded on a deserted island populated by strange, giant-sized animals (with a cameo by Captain Nemo and his famous submarine, the Nautilus), the story also made it to the big screen in 1929 and 1951, not to mention a Russian version in 1941 as well as a serial and several subsequent TV versions.
The '60s version made a serious impact on my imagination when I was a kid due to legendary special effects maestro Ray Harryhausen's (the original Clash of the Titans, the late '50s and '70s Sinbad movies) fine stop-motion-animated creatures (the giant crab battle and underwater sea creature stand out in particular), not to mention Bernard Herrmann's (Jason and the Argonauts, North By Northwest) fittingly bombastic score -- and the skimpy, racy leather island outfit sported by Beth Rogan, one of two beautiful women who conveniently wash up ashore just as the film seems a bit testosterone heavy.
Watch the Mysterious Island trailer, which touts the wonders of "Superdynamation" as a selling point (Harryhausen's unique stop-motion-animated work), then get yourself a copy of Mysterious Island for the perfect Saturday afternoon matinee…