Joining us for the penultimate entry to the Ultimate 70s Blogathon is my Game Warp co-host and showrunner of In the Depths of DVD Hell, Elwood Jones. He is known for his unique choice in films and he drops by here with quite a change with 1977 horror film, Island of Death. Now, if you don’t know Elwood, he doesn’t only write on In the Depths of DVD Hell where he looks at obscure movie titles but right now, he also runs the Movie Tourist column over at That Moment In, as well as the co-host on two other podcasts, Asian Cinema Film Club and TV Good Sleep Bad. A man of many interests and an array of different projects all worth checking out, but first, lets check out his review of Island of Death!
Title: Island of Death
Director: Nico Mastorakis
Staring: Robert Behling, Jane Lyle, Jessica Dublin, Gerald Gonalons, Jannice McConnell, Nikos Tsachiridis
Plot: Christopher (Behling) and Celia (Lyle) are enjoying a break on a small Greek island, while pursuing their favourite pastimes, which unfortunately for the locals are sex and violence, meanwhile Inspector Foster (Gonalons) is hot on their heels.
Review: Probably the least well known of the video nasty list, yet arguably the most notorious seeing how it only got taken off the list here in the UK last year, still good things come to those who wait which this film might be anything but, but still I think it’s easy to say that this is possibly one of the most explicit movies to have made the list, especially as it is essentially a constant stream of soft core porn, nudity and violence, with only the most paper thin of plots to string the scenes together, which is hardly surprising when Director Mastorakis seemingly had two goals when he set out to make the movie and that was to first make himself as much money as possible, while the second was to make the most violent and perverse film possible after after being inspired by “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, well more specifically he was inspired when he found out just how much money Tobe Hooper was making from it.
Opening with Christopher buried up to his waist in what will later be revealed to be a pit of lime while Celia watches and laughs mockingly we get our first taste of Christopher’s travel documentary esq voice over which continues to appear randomly through the film as the film now cuts back to a few days earlier as Christopher and Celia arrive on the unnamed small Greek island looking like any normal happy couple. Needless to say we are just about fifteen minutes before they are having sex in a phone box while he phones their mother…..yes that’s right they are also brother and sister (though confusingly at times she is also referred to as being his cousin) and really don’t seem to care much about the incestuous nature of their relationship. So after that surprising opening, you would think that Mastorakis might have blown his load early, until Christopher having had his attempts at getting some morning fun rejected instead relives his frustration with a passing goat before graphically killing it in what is unsurprisingly the most talked about moment in the film.
This murderous duo are almost polar opposites to each other when it comes to thier motives, with Christopher murderous tendencies being drawn from his own twisted religious beliefs, making him prone to ranting about his role as the angel of purification and how his victims have sinned as he kills, while these zealot esq beliefs of course makes the residents of the island prime targets for his campaign to purify them of their sins, especially when everyone is prone to spontaneous nudity and so sexually open. Celia meanwhile plays things like his trusted accomplice though seemingly minus Christopher’s religious rants, as she sets up the majority of the murders, as Christopher voyeuristically enjoys watching her having sex and frantically photographing her in action, which seemingly seems to be the only cure for his own impotence, especially when each of the murders are usually followed by frantic sex between him and Celia and more frantic photography of their handiwork.
There is barely a moment wasted here which is not being filled with death, gore or sex or some amalgamation of the three, with the sound of a camera shutter between each scene, creating almost an unintentional feeling that each scene is like a little violent and nasty short, a feeling only further reinforced by the beyond minimal plotting on offer here, which is pretty much abandoned by the final quarter as we lead up to the moments were we first joined the murderous duo, though don’t expect anything to be any clearer by the time we get to were we first started the film, as Mastorakis instead leaps even further into the randomness void of pure cinematic insanity which has Celia making the nasty (literally in this case) with a inbred looking famer, after he beats up and farts (yes you read that right) on Christopher which is around the same point that you realise that Mastorakis really doesn’t care anymore, let alone has any idea how to end the movie.
The death scenes are all explicit and filmed with an almost voyeuristic glee, as Mastorakis unleashes a variety of interesting deaths from the traditional stalk and slash, to the slightly more creative such as a bulldozer blade and memorably using an aeroplane wing to hang one of their victims during flight. Still none of these are shot with any sense of fun are largely just gratuitous violence and gore, which frequently makes for uncomfortable viewing.
“Island of Death” is another key example of a film which made the Video nasty list and which no doubt otherwise would have long since been forgotten like so many of the titles on the list and furthering the belief that the list did more harm than anything regarding protecting the movie going public from these kinds of movies, instead providing exploitation fans and gore hounds with a shopping list of titles to hunt down. Needless to say you can go through life having not seen this film and be all the better, especially as you won’t have wasted an hour and half of your life on this film, which left me with the same feeling I had after watching “The Human Centipede” an equally ghastly experience, which equally was all shocks over substance and like this film also soon realised that it has nowhere to go and no matter how low you sink the moral standard it still doesn’t make up for the serious lack of plotting and as such, I would recommend this only for video nasty completists and celluloid curiosity seekers only.