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“Marvelously Theatrical” Cheese

It was a sad day for me when I realized I had seen all 50 of the Horror Classics on the DVD set I gave Steven some birthdays ago. Now where will I find cheesy movies to write about, I lamented. Then I remembered that I had also gotten him 50 Mystery Classics. I don’t know if I can expect mysteries to be as cheesy as horror movies. Still, murder and mayhem, what’s not to like? I would give it a try.

I selected Fog Island (1945), starring George Zucco. Zucco, I remembered, was described as “marvelously theatrical” in a horror classic I had seen. That boded well. I eschewed the description on this one, because I know from experience they often give too much away.

Speaking of which, SPOILER ALERT!!! A big one this time, because I am going to tell you EVERYTHING, including the climax and the end. So you’ve been warned.

I’m actually not too worried about giving away the plot, because I didn’t properly understand it. I think Zucco just got out of prison where he had been sent on trumped up charges of cheating some people who think there is still some money to be had somewhere. While Zucco was in prison, somebody came to Fog Island and murdered Zucco’s wife in hopes of gaining said money.

Zucco and his beautiful stepdaughter (the obligatory beautiful young girl) are on Fog Island, discussing this while at least two suspicious-looking types listen in. The stepdaughter wants only to be left alone, but Zucco has invited all his malefactors to the island. The malefactors will accept the invitation, because they think they might get at the money. Zucco, of course, has other plans.

Now I don’t properly understand high finance, but if the money-stealing charges against Zucco were trumped up, shouldn’t the malefactors already have the money? And if there is no money, as in fact seems to be the case, where did it go? I guess money can just disappear in these investment schemes, but I thought usually somebody somewhere eventually ended up with it. But no matter. We have a murder, we have a guy seeking revenge. What more do we need?

The eavesdroppers from scene one turn out to be Zucco’s colleague who was also sent to prison (different prison, similar charges) and the mysterious butler, who, if his mystery was ever explained, I missed it (in my defense, I was writing notes in the TV Journal).

Of course the greedy malefactors show up at Fog Island. As many of you saw coming, the only boat on the place returns to the mainland and there is no phone. I don’t have a problem with the set-up; it’s the basis of many a good thriller. However, you would think a villain clever enough to get George Zucco sent to prison on false charges when they don’t even know where the money is would be foresighted enough to take their own damn boat to an island.

Before his guests arrive, Zucco rigs a rather heinous booby trap. In a room deep in the basement, the door will lock and water will pour in. He moves a table over the device that triggers the trap and put a skull on the table. I am rather fond of skulls as decor myself, so I would undoubtedly be lured by such a trap. I’ll have to watch my step.

Amongst the malefactors is the son of one who had died, a nice-looking young man who apparently has some past with Stepdaughter (just when you thought there wasn’t going to be a love interest). The other malefactors include a turbaned psychic, a hot blonde and a couple of guys. The psychic was my favorite, but I tried not to get too attached to her, because I figured they would all come to a bad end.

And of course they did, even George Zucco (I TOLD you I was going to tell the ending!). Zucco at least dies happy, because he feels that in stabbing him, the guy has as good as confessed to murdering his wife. The guy next stabs the psychic, who is dumb enough to turn her back on him. Then he and the remaining two malefactors get trapped in the heinous set-up I mentioned earlier. That scene was as disturbing as I feared it would be, but I have a horror of being trapped and drowning.

In the meantime, Young Man and Stepdaughter have patched up their differences and are preparing to leave the island (is it morning already? How time flies when you’re killing off malefactors!). While Stepdaughter packs, Young Man discovers the corpses.

“I should tell my stepfather I’m going,” she says.

He tells her he’s seen stepdad, who is OK with her leaving. He also tells her, in effect, not to worry her pretty little head over the others, just get on the boat. They exit happily into sunshine. Get it? Fog Island is no longer covered with fog. Romantic sigh.

I have left out a few things, but we don’t need this blog post stretching off into eternity after all. I do tend to get long-winded in these movie write-ups. I was quite pleased with the cheese factor in the movie. I look forward to watching others in that DVD set. And I may take some Lame Post Friday to philosophize half-bakedly on the meaning of “marvelously theatrical.”