Terror Island Parts 3 and 4 according to Kino

Terror Island Parts 3 and 4 according to Kino:

terror-card-disclaimer-477x300Below is Kino’s brief explanatory text for Parts 3 and 4 which are considered missing:

TI Part 3A Kino TextTI Part 3B Kino TextTI Part 3C Kino Text

The reality is Kino’s brief explanatory text only covers Part 4 and not Part 3.

In future posts (i.e. four installments), I will share Stills from Part 3 and describe the scenes that lead up to Part 4.



Below are two great vintage 1944 motion picture First Day Covers with add-on cachets for Houdini’s movies, The Grim Game and Terror Island.  These items recently sold individually on eBay for $15.50 and $15.55 respectively.  Congratulations to the winners!

Grim Game FDC:


  • MAGICIAN HARRY KELLAR VISITING HARRY HOUDINI AND DIRECTOR IRVIN WILLAT ON THE SET OF “THE GRIM GAME.” [Note: Arthur Moses owns the original photograph which I was lucky enough to see.]
  • FREEMASONS: Harry Houdini was a member of St. Cecile Lodge, New York.
  • He became a Shriner in New York’s Mecca Shrine in October 1926.
  • Harry Kellar was made a Mason May 1875 in Lodge Fraternidad y Homa at Peltas, Brazil.
  • Received the Royal Arch Degree on the Isle of Mauritius.
  • 1850 received the Scottish Rite Degrees in Triple Esperance Lodge, Port Luis, Mauritius, and the 33 AASR in New York City.

Terror Island FDC:


  • Harry starred in TERROR ISLAND (1920) and several other films produced by others and himself.
  • He has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and a place in motion picture history.

Hollywood Reporter LINK: In 1919, Houdini Was Seduced by Movie Magic


Hollywood Flashback: In 1919, Houdini Was Seduced by Movie Magic – Hollywood Reporter

The famed magician, whose life was the inspiration behind 2013’s ‘Now You See Me’ and its sequel (out June 10), made his Hollywood debut in silent action films such as ‘The Grim Game’ and ‘Terror Island.’

Click the Hollywood reporter link below to read the rest of the story:

Note: The above story mentions that [Harry] Houdini lived in L.A. at 1616 N. Curson Ave. which is not quite true; it was actually Bess Houdini that lived there with Ed Saint sometime around 1936.

Mere Man Battles Nature – 300 feet of film is missing


Catalina Rescue from Tao p153 photoWhile filming a moving picture [Terror Island] on Catalina Island in California, he took part in a real-life nautical drama.  A small vessel had been disabled and was in immediate danger of capsizing or smashing into the rocks off Sugar Loaf Point. [The Witch of Lime Street]

Catalina Rescue from Tao p153 snippet 1

In response to the crew’s distress calls, Houdini quickly secured himself to a line and dove into the turbulent waters.  Shielding himself from the surf with a life preserver extended in front of him, he propelled himself with froglike strokes toward the stranded men – who, as if so directed, were waving and yelling for help.  While onshore a crowd in front of the Hotel St. Catherine cheered the star’s effort to save them. [The Witch of Lime Street]

Catalina Rescue from Tao p153 snippet 2

The scene did not unfold as it would have in one of his melodramas.  Exhausted, Houdini was cut on the rocks and battered almost unconscious.  He had to be saved by deep-sea divers.  It took a motor launch nearly forty-five minutes to cut through the waves and reach the party.  Even so, he wondered to himself if he could have pulled off the feat when he was younger. [The Witch of Lime Street]

Catalina Rescue from Tao p153 snippet 3

300 feet of film at 20 fps (75 feet a minute) is 4 minutes of footage.

Where is this footage now?


  • The newspaper photo and snippets are from the November 29th, 1919 Los Angeles Newspaper article reproduced by Patrick Culliton in The Tao of Houdini on page 153.
  • The italicized passages are from page 35 and 36 of The Witch of Lime Street by David Jaher.


More Terror Island Posters

Last week we looked at a photo of some lost Terror Island Posters. So why should this week be any different.  Below are more posters which are found on page 12 of the Terror Island Pressbook.


Back in the day, exhibitors could purchase One Sheet posters for 12 cents, Three Sheet Posters for 36 cents, Six Sheet Poster for 72 cents, and the Twenty-four Sheet Poster for 1 dollar.  Can you imagine what one of these posters would go for today?

Now if we could just find one of these posters that survived.  That would truly be amazing!

And the winner of the Grim Game vs Terror Island at Potter & Potter’s Auction is?


On April 9th, Potter & Potter had a Houdiniana Auction that featured a large number of Houdini Movie Stills from the Grim Game and Terror Island.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

There was 16 Terror Island Movie Still Lots:

  • 178, 179, 184, 186, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 202, 209, 210, 219, 220, 230

There was 14 Grim Game Movie Still Lots:

  • 175, 176, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 203, 204, 217, 218, 221, 224, 231

Terror Island Notes: Lot 230 from Terror Island was misidentified as being a Movie Still from Haldane of the Secret Service. Lots 179, 190 and 210 listed the wrong serial number.

Grim Game Notes: Lot 232 from the Master Mystery was misidentified as being a Film Still from the Grim Game. Lot 204 listed the wrong serial number.

Terror Island lots brought in $9150 before buyer’s premium.

Grim Game lots brought in $8400 before buyer’s premium.

The highest Grim Game Lot (L302-87) below brought in $1700 before buyer’s premium.


The highest Terror Island Lot 230 (L318-19) below brought in $950 before buyer’s premium.


So based on the numbers who do you think won?

If you log into Live Auctioneers you can see all the auction results.

Deep Sea Loot 1919

houdini-boys-cinema-rev-cropped (1)

Deep Sea Loot is listed on the back of the 1922 Boys Cinema Card.  Chief among his films are:  “The Master Mystery”, “The Grim Game”, “Deep Sea Loot” and “Terror Island”.  Notice that Deep Sea Loot appears after The Grim Game that was released in 1919 and before Terror Island which was released in 1920.

According to Picture Play Magazine [Mar-Aug 1921], some of his pictures are  “The Master Mystery,” “The Grim Game,” “The Deep-Sea Loot,” and “The Adventures of Houdini in Paris.”

According to The Lincoln Star [Sun Aug 20 1922], he has made several pictures before “The Man From Beyond,” among them are “The Master Mystery,” “The Grim Game,” “Deep Sea Loot,” “Terror Island,” and Adventures of Houdini in Paris”.

And Deep Sea Loot  for Famous Players Lasky Corp,  1919 was included in Houdini’s typewritten list of screen credits.

HRC HH Movies List 001

Credit: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

But, according to Disappearing Tricks by Matthew Solomon, during the 1910s [1917] Houdini worked with underwater filmmakers J.E. and Ernest Williamson on a never-completed film (prospectively titled Houdini and the Miracle) that promised to show Houdini’s escape from a photosphere (an observation chamber that housed a camera that was attached to the bottom of a barge by a long tube).

According to ” a full page ad in The Moving Picture World on May 5, 1917, “Houdini’s Sub-Sea Miracle” was supposed to be released in November 1917 as the Williamson Brothers second film of that year.

Moving Picture World Volume 32 Apr-Jun 1917 p731

Solomon also mentions that the Houdini and the Miracle [1917] film project was included in Houdini’s typewritten list of screen credits as Deep Sea Loot [1919] but was never made [completed].

What intrigued me was the 1917 date versus a 1919 date, the Williamson Brothers versus Famous Players Lasky Corp and the following 1919 Houdini letter from the Fred Pittella collection:

Nov 2 1919

Dear G Kirby

We are on location and expect to return to Los Ang end of week.

I am doing under water swimming getting ready for my “Deep Sea Loot” story.

This morning I did five tests each running over two minutes which is not bad at this stage as it means 3 minutes next week.

Kindest regards,


So, in November of 1919, it is my understanding that Houdini was at Catalina Island working on submarine scenes for Terror Island [Deep Sea Loot?].   [Wid’s Daily Dec 1, 1919]

In December, the players were transferred from Catalina Island to an island off the coast of Lower California. At this island, which has a South Sea atmosphere practically all of the remaining exterior scenes were filmed. [Motion Picture News Dec 6 1919]

According to Kalush p 354 and 355:

By July of 1917, three months after signing a contract, Houdini was still hashing out the script with the Williamsons.  Both the war in Europe and a war between the Williamsons derailed the project.  Desperately trying to salvage  his film, Houdini entered into an arrangement with a company called Westart to film the opening scenes of his scenario, a manacled jump into the sea off the pier at Atlantic City.  Though Westart would in a few years produce a series of low-budget Westerns, this one-day shoot appears to be all that became of The Marvelous Adventures of Houdini.

According to Solomon’s notes:

Elements of this story [“The Marvelous Adventures of Houdini, the Justly Celebrated Elusive American”, aka “Houdini and the Miracle”], especially its focus on underwater action [“Deep Sea Loot”], found their way into “Terror Island” a few years later.

So in 1919, did Harry Houdini shoot scenes for “Deep Sea Loot” and “Terror Island” or are they one in the same?

Special Thank You to Fred Pittella for allowing me to share the contents of a letter dated Nov 2, 1919 from his personal collection.

23 to 25 Minutes of Terror Island is Missing

terror card disclaimer

Disclaimer at the start of the current version of Terror Island

The current version of Terror Island is approximately 55 minutes, but it is missing reels (acts) Three and Four.

missing terror

Two of several missing scenes from Terror Island

According to the Terror Island Press book it was Six Acts.

TI Press Book Cover 001

However, I have seen the original script and it was 7 acts.  Most of the ads imply it was six reels.

terror-island-the_kansas_city_sun_sat__sep_4__1920_ (1)

However documentation at the Margaret Herrick Library gave the length of each of the seven reels, which add up to 5939 feet:

Reel One:  975 feet, Reel Two: 848 feet, Reel Three: 958 feet, Reel Four: 917 feet, Reel Five: 889 feet., Reel Six: 784 feet and Reel Seven: 568 feet.

Just based on the total feet, 5939 feet could actually fit on Six reels, which might explain the Six acts mentioned in the press book and the Six reels listed in ads.  I compared the Kino DVD running time of the five reels (Acts 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7) at 55 minutes (54.19) to the footage per reel and based on my rough calculations we are missing about 25 minutes (Acts 3 and 4) played at 20 fps (75 feet a minute).  The library lists 5939 feet and many reviews such as Wid’s Daily below list it at 5813 feet.  At 20 fps, that is either 79.19 minutes or 77.51 total minutes in length.

Feel free to do the math yourself.

terror-island-wids-daily-review-php-2 (1)