I don’t know whether to applaud or curse the fact that we were able to access YouTube through our TiVo to watch this movie. Though it was released in 1960, this black and white film looks like it was filmed in the early ‘50s. It begins with three kids meeting at the soda shop (two malts were a total of 50 cents). They’re wondering what kind of clean cut fun they could have - Morrie leaves to go horseback riding, but arranges to meet the others in a couple of hours. Stick with me here because that’s important to the story.
Cut to a boat where Reg, Skip, Julie, and Pam are all set to go waterskiing. They discover an island (that apparently was really hard to find) and land to have their lunch. Since they’re already there they decide to go exploring for a bit.
Nothing much to see here and they keep going and are surprised to see a building in the distance. Even more surprising is the line of workers shuffling down a path. There’s a woman in an evening gown that appears to be overseeing the procession and when she catches sight of the kids she halts the parade, but the kids get scared and high tail it back to the boat.
Oh, no! The boat is gone! Figuring they might have just misplaced it, the start following the shoreline to see if it magically moved somewhere else. They wander for quite a while before finally sitting down to rest. The girls decide to keep resting while the boys mosey on up to the house they saw.
Being the polite sort, they knock on the door. The woman they saw earlier, Dr. Myra, opens the door and invites them in, offering them a soft drink. They ask about their boat but she plays dumb. She tells them they have no boats because no one ever leaves the island. The guys get kind of cranky at this point and threaten to go to the sheriff - an empty threat without their boat to back them up.
Suddenly, they hear a couple of screams! This hairy hunchback named Ivan has the girls in a cage down in the basement. Dr. Myra takes the boys down there and has Ivan throw them in the adjoining cage. She tells them if they behave, Ivan won’t hurt them.
Back at the soda shop, Morrie is getting a little worried about the others because they never showed up like they said they would. And because this is the ‘50s, a teenager being a couple of hours late is something to worry about and the soda jerk advises Morrie to talk to the sheriff. So off Morrie and his girl Dottie go to the sheriff’s office.
The kids get kind of panicky as they tell the sheriff how worried they are about the other four, and convince him to send out a search party (which consists of the sheriff and a deputy tooling around in a boat). They meet Morrie and Dottie at the dock and tell them they didn’t find anything, so after the adults leave the kids liberate a small boat and go looking themselves.
Big surprise, they go almost directly to the island, even though the sheriff missed it after being out there for hours. Of course they go exploring instead of going back for the sheriff, and the first thing they see is Ivan lurking around. They manage to avoid him and follow the path to the house. They knock on the door and Dr. Myra (wearing a different evening gown) lets them in.
They ask about the four missing kids, but get kind of nervous and skedaddle out of there when the good doctor tells them that no one ever comes to her island. Their boat is waiting where they left it, and as they’re pulling away from the island, two men in suits are pulling up to the beach.
Turns out Dr. Myra is a mad scientist and the suits are there for a progress report on their plans to conquer the United States. She takes them down to the lab for a demonstration of the mind control gas she’s been developing. Her victim of choice is a gorilla because “unlike a man, he’s not human.” Once he’s gassed, the gorilla is docile and obedient and the suits are impressed.
Meanwhile, the boys have managed to pick the lock of their cell, but they’re having trouble with the girls’ lock. They have a bit of an argument with the girls, but decide to leave them behind and go look for a boat or help or something and promise to come back for them. Of course they don’t find anything helpful, not even the boat the two suits came in. Just as they’re about to give up hope they get the brilliant idea of building a raft, but they don’t get much of it done before it starts getting light and they figure they’d better get back to their cell.
Back in town, Morrie and Dottie tell the sheriff about the suspicious island they found and how the woman lied about living in isolation. It takes a lot of convincing, but finally the sheriff agrees to go have a look.
Dr. Myra tells Ivan to bring the two girls - he drags them in kicking and screaming and the boys follow surreptitiously behind. The girls are shoved into the testing chamber and the boys don’t know what to do. At this point the sheriff and the other two kids show up and it looks like the sheriff is in on Dr. Myra’s evil master plan.
Ivan corrals Morrie and Dottie. The boys look for something to pry open the door to the testing chamber, the adults start arguing, the sheriff goes off in a huff and one of the suits shoots him in the back. Ivan is forced to let go of the kids so he can dispose of the body, and once he leaves all hell breaks loose and it’s a free-for-all fight between the adults and the kids.
Oops! Dr. Myra managed to release the gas into the chamber and the girls are doused with zombie gas. The kids win the fight and make her open the chamber, but it’s too late. When she refuses to produce the antidote, the boys put her in the chamber and turn her into a zombie. Unfortunately, she’s a little too zombified, so they threaten to put the men in the chamber next. One of them caves and points out the antidote.
After pouring some of the liquid into two glasses, they set the beaker down on the desk. They try it on Dr. Myra to make sure it works, and the first thing she does is sweep the beaker onto the floor. Good thing they poured two glasses of it. The boys de-zombify the girls and a scuffle breaks out. While the boys are fighting with Ivan and one of the suits, the other suit and Dr. Myra escape. But the gorilla (no idea where they were keeping him) wanders into the lab and licks up some of the antidote from the floor. He takes care of the suit and Ivan, allowing the kids to escape.
The other suit and Dr. Myra reached the boat the sheriff came in at the same time the kids do, and the adults prove to be no match for the determined kids. The kids deliver their prisoners to the sheriff’s office and the deputy tells them the military will be very grateful. It’s implied that they’ll get to meet the president himself for this. They’re heroes.
This was kind of a fun movie, set as it was in a simpler time. You couldn’t get away with a story like this these days. Well, you could have the mad scientist trying to turn the U.S. into zombies, but you wouldn’t have anyone blink twice at teens being a couple of hours late meeting a friend. And I think kids themselves are a little more savvy today.
The hubby says, “It wasn’t the worst bad movie we’ve seen, but it did have its dumb moments.” I think that’s supposed to be a good thing. ;-)