Voodoo Island

Voodoo Island is a 1957 American horror film directed by Reginald Le Borg and written by Richard H. Landau.[2] The film stars Boris Karloff, with a cast including Elisha Cook Jr. and Rhodes Reason.[3] It is set in the South Pacific and was filmed on Kauai, Hawaii back to back with Jungle Heat.[1]

Voodoo Island
Theatrical release poster
Directed byReginald Le Borg
Produced byHoward W. Koch
Written byRichard H. Landau
StarringBoris Karloff
Beverly Tyler
Murvyn Vye
Elisha Cook Jr.
Music byLes Baxter
CinematographyWilliam Margulies
Edited byJohn F. Schreyer
Bel-Air Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • February 1957 (1957-02) (U.S.)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States

Voodoo Island was released theatrically in 1957 by United Artists on a double bill with Pharaoh's Curse.[4]


Property developers looking for the ideal South Pacific location for the new Paradise Carlton hotel, discover instead an island populated by carnivorous plants and zombies.



Voodoo Island was Adam West's first appearance in a film.[5] Howard W. Koch and Aubrey Schenck's Bel-Air Productions signed Boris Karloff for a three-picture deal with Voodoo Island being the first one.[6] The budget was estimated at around $150,000.[5]


Voodoo Island was released theatrically by United Artists on a double bill with Pharaoh's Curse in 1957.[4] The film was later re-titled Silent Death for a very brief 1963 theatrical re-release, sharing the bill with The Black Sleep (1956) (which is also known as Dr. Cadman's Secret).[5]

Home media

On September 20, 2005, MGM (which owns United Artists) released Voodoo Island and The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake together in a DVD double bill, marking the film's home media debut.[7] The film was later released by Willette Acquisition Corp. on November 25, 2014.[8]


Amongst contemporary reviews, Variety noted that "the thriller gimmicks come off with the desired impact under Reginald Le Borg's direction"; and similarly positive, The Motion Picture Exhibitor wrote that the film "may scare the kiddies and please the addicts of such entries", though concluded that "The cast is fair, the direction and production average, and the story of medium interest."[5] More recently, author and film critic Leonard Maltin awarded the film two out of a possible four stars, calling it "boring";[9] and TV Guide gave it one out of five stars, calling it "a terrible film"[10] On his website Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings, Dave Sindelar criticized the film's dialogue as "painfully self-conscious", LeBorg's direction, and Karloff's "clumsy" performance; although he also stated that the actor's presence helped the film. Sindelar also noted that the film managed to avoid the usual voodoo cliches, and enjoyed the killer plants, concluding "This is just one of those movies that calls for a little patience."[11]

Dennis Schwartz from Ozus' World Movie Reviews awarded the film a grade C, calling it "An unconvincing and dull horror story that has a hokey payoff", and criticized the film's lack of a good story, shallow acting, and flatness that prevented it from providing enough thrills.[12] Bruce Eder from Allmovie gave the film a mostly negative review, writing, "Reginald Le Borg's Voodoo Island is one of those movies that used to get shown on late-night local television -- ostensibly a horror movie, it didn't have quite enough scares or good visual monsters to rate a place on "Chiller Theater," but it was unsettling enough in some of its details to get attention."[13]


  1. Stephen Jacobs, Boris Karloff: More Than a Monster, Tomohawk Press 2011 p 391-392
  2. "Voodoo Island (1957)".
  3. "Voodoo Island - TV Guide". TVGuide.com.
  4. McGee, Mark Thomas; Robertson, R.J. (2013). "You Won't Believe Your Eyes". Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-273-2. Page 254
  5. Senn, Bryan (2 September 1998). "Drums of Terror: Voodoo in the Cinema". Midnight Marquee & BearManor Media via Google Books.
  6. p.215 Weaver, Tom Howard W. Koch Interview in Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers: Writers, Producers, Directors, Actors, Moguls and Makeup McFarland, 1 Jan 2006
  7. "Amazon.com: Voodoo Island/The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (Midnite Movies Double Feature): Boris Karloff, Beverly Tyler, Murvyn Vye, Elisha Cook Jr., Rhodes Reason, Jean Engstrom, Friedrich von Ledebur, Glenn Dixon, Owen Cunningham, Herbert Patterson, Jerry Frank, Adam West, Edward L. Cahn, Reginald Le Borg, Aubrey Schenck, Edwin F. Zabel, Howard W. Koch, Robert E. Kent, Orville H. Hampton, Richard H. Landau: Movies & TV". Amazon.com. Amazon. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  8. "Voodoo Island (1957) - Reginald Le Borg". Allmovie.com. AllMovie. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  9. Leonard Maltin; Spencer Green; Rob Edelman (January 2010). Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide. Plume. p. 727. ISBN 978-0-452-29577-3.
  10. "Voodoo Island - TV Guide". TVGuide.com.
  11. Sindelar, Dave. "Voodoo Island (1957)". Fantastic Movie Musings.com. Dave Sindelar. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  12. Schwartz, Dennis. "voodooisland". Sover.net. Dennis Schwartz. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  13. Eder, Bruce. "Voodoo Island (1957) - Reginald Le Borg". Allmovie.com. Bruce Eder. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
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