This movie apparently set some kind of record for being cranked out so quickly at Universal, so it could be released as a double bill with Man Made Monster.
Nevertheless, it is surprisingly good.
The movie starts with peg-legged sea captain Tobias Clump (charmingly played by Leo Carrillo) looking for Captain Bill Martin; he is followed by a sinister phantom (Foy Van Dolsen), who accosts him, pushes him into the harbor, and makes off with half of a treasure map!
Fortunately, Tobias is rescued by entrepreneurial Captain Bill Martin (played by Dick Foran) and his stuttering sidekick Stuff (played by Fuzzy Knight). Tobias explains how he obtained the treasure map, and that it leads to an island owned by Captain Martin where a famous pirate once built a castle. But when they take the map to be authenticated by timid professor Dr. Quinley (Hobart Cavanaugh), he reveals that it is a fake.
Determined to make lemonade from a lemon, Captain Martin decides to organize a treasure-hunting voyage with the fake map, and his buddy Stuff sets up the castle with lots of fakery to scare the paying customers. Tobias, however, still believes the map is genuine!
Setting off on a sort of 1940s Gilligan's Island voyage, the little ship (boat?) carries Captain Martin, Stuff, Tobias, and the passengers: Dr. Quinley, Captain Martin's suddenly interested cousin George (John Eldredge), young socialite Wendy Creighton (played by spunky Peggy Moran), her 'bored with life' boyfriend Thurman Coldwater (Lewis Howard), an investigator named Sergeant McGoon from the mercantile association (played buffoonishly by Walter Catlett), and mystery couple Rod and Arleen Grady (played by 'tough guy' Ralf Harolde and 'tough girl' Iris Adrian).
Soon, there's something amiss at the castle, bodies begin to pile up, the phantom returns, old mysteries unfold, and who (or what!) is behind it all?
I didn't expect much from this movie, but it's odd combination of adventure, mystery and horror and some fun performances from the entire cast kept me entertained. Yes, the idea that Morgan the Pirate built a castle on some island is a bit far-fetched, but you weren't expecting a history lesson, were you?
Dick Foran and Peggy Moran make a fun duo. I wish they had made 20 more films like this!
My favorite line:
Arleen Grady: This place gives me the heebie-jeebies! It reminds me of prison.