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Escape from Hell Island (1963) Online

Escape from Hell Island (1963) Online
Original Title :
Escape from Hell Island
Genre :
Movie / Thriller
Year :
Directror :
Mark Stevens
Cast :
Mark Stevens,Jack Donner,Linda Gaye Scott
Writer :
Robert Sheckley,T.L.P. Swicegood
Type :
Time :
1h 20min
Rating :
Escape from Hell Island (1963) Online

A Florida boat captain loses his license after an attempt to smuggle some Cuban refugees results in a woman dying in the process.
Credited cast:
Mark Stevens Mark Stevens - Capt. James
Jack Donner Jack Donner - Lyle Dennison
Linda Gaye Scott Linda Gaye Scott - Linda Dennison (as Linda Scott)
David Aldrich David Aldrich - Pete Sands
Louis Oquendo Louis Oquendo - Domingo Rios
Russell Smith Jr. Russell Smith Jr. - Coast Guard Officer
Mercedes Marlowe Mercedes Marlowe - Mrs. Pete Sands
Jack Clarke Jack Clarke - Bartender at Sloppy Joe's
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Fern Martin Fern Martin
Alexander Panas Alexander Panas
Edmund Reed Edmund Reed

The fight scene was filmed at Sloppy Joe's in Key West.

Although not listed as an adaptation of Howard Hawks' classic Humphrey Bogart film loosely based on Ernest Hemingway's To Have And Have Not, there are many similarities including a Florida boat charter captain picking up refugees for money with a drunk shipmate working for him.

User reviews



***SPOILERS*** The movie was filmed around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in and around Key West's famous "Sloppy Joe's Café" that after the first 20 minutes or so has really very little to do with Castro's Cuba. What the movie does have to do with is the explosive revelry between the star and director of the movie Mark Stevens playing the part of the hero Captain James and the unhinged and emotionally unstable Lyle Dennison, Jack Donner, that takes up some like 75% of the movie. It was Captain James who rescued a number of anti-Castro Cubans running the Castro blockade in his engine powered sail boat and brought them to freedom in Key West Florida. It was one of those he rescued the pretty 20 year old Linda Dennison. Linda Gayle Scott, who developed the hot's for the handsomer captain that got her jealous husband Lyle to go off the deep end.

Lyle a gutless coward at heart who bragged about his imaginary exploits in Cuba as a freedom fighter against Communism and the Castro regime, before it came into power, just can't take the sight of his wife Linda making eyes at Captain James and at the same time treating him like the wimp that he is. Conning Captain James to take him by sail to the Bahamas to see his sick sister, that in fact he doesn't have, Lyle in his crazy mind really wants to deep six him and take over his sailboat making Captain James' demise look like a tragic accident. At the same time he can get Linda to come back to him with her lover Captain James no longer around.

***SPOILERS*** Like everything else he did in life the crazy and ridicules plan blows up in Lyle's face with the courageous Captain James after being thrown overboard turning the tables on him and making him look like the 1st class schmuck that he really is. Stranded in the Caribbean sea 100 miles from the nearest land-mass between Key West and the Bahamas due to Captain James sabotaging the boat Lyle in his frustration to do the Captain in slowly loses his mind in the hot Caribbean sun beating down on him. It's after a couple hours drifting aimlessly at sea that Lyle completely cracks up just as Captain James, who was in the water avoiding man eating sharks, comes on board and put his crazy plan to rest together with him. At first Captain James, knowing Lyle's quickly deteriorating mental condition, wanted to get his back to Key West to get medical and psychological treatment for his condition. Instead of being thankful to Captain James for what he's doing for him Lyle instead tried to harpoon the Captain, when his back was turned, which had him not the Captain end up as shark bait.


1963's "Escape from Hell Island" is a no budget yawner directed by its star, Mark Stevens, who in the 1940s had worked opposite such actresses as Lucille Ball and Olivia De Havilland. As a director, he at least showed ingenuity in filming off Key West, as a captain hired to rescue some escaping Cubans from Castro's regime. Unfortunately, the ease with which he conducts the rescue leaves the film lurching through its final hour with nothing but a romance with a woman whose weakling hubby spends the last couple of reels keeping our hero from boarding his own boat, while a little stock footage (very little) of swimming sharks makes for a feeble attempt at suspense. This was one of the numerous Crown International titles that popped up on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater during the 1976-77 season, paired on Jan 1 1977 with second feature "The Lost World" (1960), which at least had the advantage of being in color (believe it or not, there was one repeat appearance from "Hell", Sept 1 1979). Mark Stevens subsequently kept busy in Europe, where he shot the German "Frozen Alive," a more suitable title for Chiller Theater that alas never appeared.


The "hell island" referred to in the title refers to post-revolution Cuba. Some refugees are helped to the U.S. by an sea captain from Key West. He falls in love with a refugee's wife -- none of these refugees has an accent -- the husband is a psychotic crybaby, and he somehow talks the captain into talking him to the Bahamas so he can grub money from his sister. The husband tries to kill the captain and steal his ship.

If this sounds like a confused mess with no real plot, it's because this is exactly what it is. There's a scene that goes on for fifteen minutes where Mark Stevens (the captain) tries to get back on his ship after the psychotic guy knocks him into the ocean . . . which is filled with stock footage (badly patched in) of sharks.

Stevens directed this tiny-budgeted, black and white mess, which is supposedly based on a story by Robert Sheckley, a first-rate writer, who, I doubt, had much to do with this fiasco.

Watching this was about as exciting as watching Jello cook. No . . . it wasn't even that good. Skip it and pour that Jello powder in boiling water . . .


A sea captain has an illegal venture on the side where he helps refugees escape Cuba. He subsequently falls in love with one of the women he brings back. The trouble is that her unbalanced husband is none too happy about this and has plans to counter-act this situation.

Escape from Hell Island is a thriller that seems to have been tapping pretty directly into events surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. Many films did this in the 60's and this event was partially responsible for the boom in cold war spy films at the time. To be honest, it's quite awkwardly integrated into this film to the point that it almost feels added just for its topicality. The story-line is quite messy and essentially winds up with a suspense driven final third on-board a boat where two men have a stand-off against one and other in which the good captain spends quite a bit of time in the sea trying to avoid sharks and the like. It's not a particularly successful thriller, as its focus is all over the place. At best, its a reasonable time-filler.


Very routinely directed by actor Mark Stevens from a script by T.L.P. Swicegood based on a novel by Robert Sheckley. Presumably it is just pure coincidence that the first half of the movie bears a striking resemblance to "To Have and Have Not" whilst the second half seems to be plainly based on "Plein Soleil". In between is a dull, dialogue- loaded triangle romance. Admittedly, the climax promises some excitement, but this is largely dissipated by its inordinate length and Mark Stevens' flat direction. True, the movie's production values get a boost from actual location lensing, but otherwise this film has little to recommend it. Mark Stevens' performance is as tired as his direction. Admittedly, there's not much even Elia Kazan could do with a screenplay as overloaded with dull dialogue as this one!