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Manhunt of Mystery Island

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Manhunt of Mystery Island

Current Status:
In Season
Richard Bailey, Roy Barcroft
Spencer Gordon Bennett

We gave it a B

These three Republic serials now making their video debuts cover the whole run of the studio’s cliff-hanger output — Darkest Africa was the first such made under the company’s banner, while Panther Girl, released at the height of TV’s erosion of movie-theater attendance in the ’50s, was very nearly the last. Plotwise, they’re pretty much indistinguishable from one another, hewing rather strictly to the genre’s conventions — they’re chock-full of lost cities, sinister villains who remain disguised until the last reel, and now-amusingly quaint superscientific gadgets. But each has its own particular charms. Darkest Africa, for example, showcases the goofiest art direction (a low-budget Parthenon set that looks as if an electric train should be running through it), while Manhunt of Mystery Island features the coolest villain (Roy Barcroft in a Halloween pirate suit, ranting about the price of failure) and Panther Girl the dumbest monsters (supposedly mutated giant lobsters that probably got fed to the crew after each day’s shooting). Tech bonus: Print quality, as usual with Republic’s serial cassettes, is uniformly fine. All three: B