The Shadow — “Isle of Fear”

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“What evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”

The Shadow (1937-54) aired “The Isle of Fear” on October 30, 1938. This adventure takes Margot Lane and Lamont Cranston (The Shadow) to the isle of Haiti on a vacation cruise. Their holiday soon turns to nightmare when they learn of  the Festival of the Blood Moon, for the “festival” involves child abduction, blood sacrifice, and the Snake Gods of Voodoo.

(The Shadow cover at left: November 1, 1938)

While several writers would pen adaptations of the original Shadow stories for radio, it was Walter Gibson (1897-1985) who would single-handedly write at least 282 of the 325 Shadow novels (a novel every two weeks for the bi-weekly magazine for close to twenty years), his estimated wordage at his busiest something around 1,700,000 words a year. He would write under the house pen name of Maxwell Grant, his true name now legendary among pulp and Shadow fans. He would also write more than a hundred books on magic, hypnotism, yoga, psychic phenomena and other diverse subjects, and ghost wrote books on magic for Harry Houdini. With his wife, Gibson would pen one of the penultimate books on fortune telling, numeration, astrology, and graphology, The Complete Illustrated Book of the Psychic Sciences (Doubleday, 1966). Needless to say and as others have remarked, Gibson was a compulsive writer.

In this episode we have Bill Johnstone as the Shadow, Orson Welles having recently left the show in order to pursue his interests with the now famous Mercury Theater, on stage and in radio, after pioneering the role of the Shadow for just over a year. Johnstone would portray the voice of the Shadow for the next five years, his efforts well received by fans. Listen now to one of Johnstone’s earliest forays as the Shadow in the dark tale of “The Isle of Fear.”

“The weed of crime bears bitter fruit.” –The Shadow

Play Time: 29:09

[After being introduced to zombies and babies being used as blood sacrifices in the jungles of Haiti in this frightening The Shadow episode (and on the night before Halloween no less), most of the neighborhood gang wanted nothing more to do with scary things (at least for a day). Their regular journey to the local newsstand would find them buying science fiction tales of other worlds and strange planets–all but one kid who enjoyed being terrified and who bought the latest Terror Tales to see if it would give him that good old, good time chill up and down his spine.]

{Left: Amazing, Nov. 1938 – Center: Terror Tales, Nov./Dec. 1938 – Right: Thrilling Wonder, Oct./Nov. 1938}


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