Ultimate 70s Blogathon: Island of Death (1977) by From the Depths of DVD Hell

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!

island of death

Title: Island of Death
Director: Nico Mastorakis
Released: 1977
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.


Ultimate 70s Blogathon: The Exorcist (1973) by Emma K Wall (Explains It All)

Ultimate 70s Blogathon

Our next participant joining us for the Ultimate 70s Blogathon is Emma from Emma K Wall (Explains It All) with her review of The Exorcist. Before we talk about how iconic The Exorcist is since we have two entries for it already, remember to check out Emma’s amazing blog where she talks about movies, TV, music and books and injects a great personality and style to it all. Its always a fun time over there.

Without further ado, here’s her review of horror classic, The Exorcist.

Thank you to Drew and Kim for hosting such a great blogathon! And what a cool, psychedelic banner you created too (if I may add – see my right-hand column for proof).

The Exorcist (1973) – Film Review

The Exorcist

Though not one of my absolute personal favourites (like top 20 or something), I still believe that The Exorcist is one of the greatest horror films, if not THE greatest horror film ever made. And I realise that’s an incredibly bold statement but it’s hard to imagine anything else ever being as infamous, chilling and powerful. It’s the ultimate battle between good and evil. It has an amazing atmosphere, pairing great writing with genuine terror and is still scary to this day (45 years after its original release – actually that might be the scariest fact of all!). Anyway, twinned with the fact I’d watched it fairly recently it was an easy choice for the Ultimate 70s Blogathon.

I first watched The Exorcist as a teenager (almost a rite of passage) and it did really scare me. But let’s just get this out the way now – of course it won’t ‘scare’ everyone. And of course it won’t scare you if you watch it with your stoner mates and laugh loudly through the crucifix scene. But that doesn’t make it shit, okay? I don’t often get on my high horse with movies (not unless someone starts slagging of Face Off or Zoolander) but it genuinely irritates me when people say “The Exorcist? That’s shit! I thought it was funny”. Er, no mate. It wasn’t the first ever horror film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar for nothing you know (though it didn’t win). Aaaaand exhale.

The Exorcist is an Absolute Classic – plain and simple. I refuse to hear otherwise. Apart from some valid points already mentioned, there are other various reasons it deserves the jagged, bloody crown of horror.

The Exorcist

Based on a novel, it has a super, valid and coherent story. Made in the 70s it has those beautiful on-screen retro effects. You know when they’re all freezing cold in Regan’s room and their breath comes out white? Well the room really was like an ice box. And you know Regan’s horrible gravely ‘possessed’ voice? That really was done by a voice actress – who chain smoked and drank whiskey to get the tone right (you gotta love that relaxed 1970s outlook).

It’s also very well directed and I can only assume William Friedkin pissed off the entire set with his gung-ho attitude. Examples include firing a real gun next to someone’s head to get a ‘real’ reaction and the bit where Regan’s mother (Ellen Burstyn) is attacked by her possessed daughter, well she really WAS in pain – and shouting angrily at Friedkin as she landed on the floor, screaming and clutching her back. It was a genuine reaction – and cheerfully kept in the film. If you care to check out the IMDB trivia page you’ll find lots of similar stories. And then of course there’s the cool mystery, intrigue and real life horror that generally surrounds The Exorcist. Like the myth that there was evil ‘written into the pages’ of the script, making it a cursed movie from the beginning. With deaths on the set and a fire that halted production for a number of weeks, interestingly there was actually a real life exorcism ON SET – that’s how freaked out they all were. And the terror definitely continued with the audience, with reports of people fainting, throwing up and running out of the cinema, one guy apparently actually broke his jaw as he collapsed in shear, dramatic fear.

Aside from all that, it also seems important to point out that The Exorcist is also scary, simply because it’s just that – SCARY. It’s dark, it’s claustrophobic, there’s creepy eyes and demonic voices, evil laughter, dark corners and tension. We’re talking about a cute little girl possessed by a malevolent demon for goodness sake. And though it’s now been done many, many (yawn) times, back in 1973, can you imagine how effing terrifying it was?

                                                                                                                                 The Exorcist

So, what more proof do we need that The Exorcist is a terrifying and brilliant delight? We have a great story, a mental director, superb old effects and a genuine feel of evil. Well, I suppose we could do with a world famous theme tune? Something that everyone now associates with the film? Happily The Exorcist also succeeds this, in the shape of Mike Oldfield’s the Tubular Bells. Not a score written for the movie, but a piece of music used in the movie and now basically as famous as the movie. And in places, just as scary.

Reblog: Ultimate 70s Blogathon: The Exorcist (1973) by MovieRob

***Sorry for the late reblog. It seems the reblog button has vanished and I was hoping it was just a maintenance bug with WordPress. However, here’s the manual reblog! Have any of you encountered the same problem?***

Yesterday’s fantastic Ultimate 70s Blogathon entry was from the amazing MovieRob who I know as someone who doesn’t watch horror however he’s offered as the first of two entries, a review of 1973’s horror classic, The Exorcist. I’ve never seen The Exorcist before and I wonder if it’ll hold up if I were to watch it today. Let me just mention that MovieRob is awesome in many ways as a movie reviewer, he also is the first participant in the blogathon to break us out of the latter 70s great films and takes us back to the first half of 70s. Great job!

Head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews to check out his fantastic review of The Exorcist HERE.

On the side note: If you want to catch up with all the posts, we have a Ultimate 70s Blogathon list HERE which is updated daily.


Ultimate 70s Blogathon Kick-Off: Alien (1979)

Ultimate 70s Blogathon officially kicks off today.

To get things started, my lovely cohost Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews and I will be starting things off at both of our blogs today. To kick off the blogathon, I am reviewing Alien, a movie released nearly 40 years ago and started off a franchise that has been getting a revivial in the last few years. For that, it deserves its spot in this blogathon! For myself, this movie holds a significant spot as one of the first 70s film that I ever saw.

Lets check it out!

Alien (1979)


Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto

After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun. – IMDB

Alien is a 1979 sci fi horror thriller directed by Ridley Scott. Everyone knows that but I honestly had no idea how to start off this review about such a popular movie. As much as it kicks off a franchise, the debate of whether this film or its sequel Aliens is better is almost inevitable. However, while both are very good in their own respects, Alien is one that has always got my heart. It really is quite iconic from both the perspective of its story, the atmosphere, the iconic female protagonist and its impeccably brutal alien Xenomorph, it hits a lot of elements perfectly.  Alien can sometimes feel slightly slower in its pacing but this also is where its tense thriller and horror-esque atmosphere is built so well.The darker environment and the mysterious mists here and there along with the foreign space they investigate create some rather creepy imagery right down to the epic face hugger scene and can only send chills down your spine.


The predatory abilities of the Xenomorph is an unknown and as we follow the different characters and their different encounters, we learn a little more. Xenomorph is one of the outstanding parts of this film. Its a speciman to gain knowledge about and as it develops and transforms throughout the film, making a speechless villain have an incredible amount of presence both psychologically and physically.


A great villain needs to be met with someone worthy to fight them off amd here we have the femme fatale Ellen Ripley who really is the standout character in the movie. Everyone else just fills a spot but Sigourney Weaver’s role portrayal of Ellen Ripley is done so well. She’s tough and smart. The encounters are tense but she also knows how to feel quite real. You can almost say that she breaks the mold of the leading men and their badass role but taking on this tough lady role who fights for survival against this monster alien. As much as Ellen Ripley is a great character and the other supporting roles here as the other six crew members feel dispensable, there are still some decent performances delivered. Ellen Ripley played a voice of reason and the consequences of not listening to her eventually was what caused the disaster on the spaceship.

Revisiting older movies are tough to review. On one hand, its inevitable that some will not carry well over time especially sci-fi films because technology has changed so much over the years. Somehow, as much as technology changed and the tech here seems out of date along with some of the effects, Alien still carries itself really well. The horror moments with the face hugger and the Xenomorph are still creepy and believable. The ship feels real enough to be immersed in the events happening on the spaceship. Overall, Alien as a rewatch delivers itself really well and is still an immersive and thrilling watch and shows how before its times it was when it was released in 1979 with a bunch of unique elements that fit so well together.

Head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews to check out his review to kick off the Ultimate 70s Blogathon some time today!
For the rest of the blogathon, posts will be showing up alternate days between our blogs.
Remember to follow us to not miss out on any of the fantastic entries!


TV Binge: Wolf Creek (Season 1, 2016)

I watched Wolf Creek quite a few years ago. The movie was quite memorable to say the least and one of the highlights of the movie from what I remembered was Mick Taylor, the villain of the movie. Recently we subscribed to Shudder and with it came the first season of Wolf Creek. We had no idea where this would go but just in case, we rewatched the movie as preparation before starting it. The movie absolutely still holds up today. Here’s my original review of it. Now time to take a look at the TV series.

Wolf Creek (Season 1, 2016)

wolf creek

Cast: John Jarrett, Lucy Fry, Dustin Clare

An anthology series which centers on different characters being targeted by crazed serial killer Mick Taylor in the Australian outback. – IMDB

Wolf Creek is one of those series that gave me incredibly mixed feelings. Its really a mini series length which works for what it tries to accomplish. It focuses around a sixteen year old girl Eve whose family gets killed by Mick Taylor on a camping trip in Australia. The reason for the trip was for her recovery from drug addiction, mostly of the pain killer variety and she heads out to track down the killer that she feels is linked to many disappearances in Australia on her own when the police doesn’t seem to be able to help her or believe her. The first season tells the story on her side, the policeman and Mick Taylor’s side as well. The angle they choose is great but the best way that I can describe this series is it felt like a tease and not enough follow through. Don’t get me wrong. The pacing and the length work very well to the advantage of the series. The episodes take place over various areas of Australia and it almost feels like a lethal cat and mouse game except they are somewhat chasing each other while adding in the policeman Sullivan into the equation who tries to follow the girl’s traces.

wolf creek

Other than the beautiful Outback setting here and the road trip style here that works really well, the main characters are all done really well. Eve is played Lucy Fry and she carries herself very well especially as her character is written with a lot of development as she matures and learns from her mistakes over the course of the episodes and her chase of Mick Taylor. She grows tough and learns how to blend in and even cover her tracks a little while picking up a few femme fatale traits. Her vengeful mind and her constant resistance to her addiction takes into an intriguing journey to say the least. The cop here, Sullivan, also sees a side of his story from his personal story to his trail to find out more also makes him a pretty great character to watch. He also gets a good bit of development here however what stands out for him is his rugged personality. Then of course, there’s Mick Taylor, as always played by John Jarrett. I think he’s a great fit for this character and the fact that Wolf Creek has managed to get him to join back in for the TV series is pretty fantastic.

Wolf Creek

With that said, the part which I disliked the most about the series went to all these supporting characters that these characters meet along the way and seem to want to build up and develop halfway and make its audience care and then takes them out of the equation abruptly. I’m not exactly a fan of that. While I understand that TV series will have constant change and each of these characters may have been a little bit of a guiding light and purpose to Eve’s revenge journey, and they can’t always keep everyone on forever, it seems slightly silly to keep removing people out and it somewhat bothered me.

Overall, the first season of Wolf Creek is pretty decent. The main characters do a decent job and the structure of the show works pretty well. I had some minor issues on not letting some supporting characters of bigger roles but then, looking at the show being an anthology style per season, it seems to make much more sense. I do like the anthology idea which seems fitting for the emphasis on Mick Taylor rather than his victims.


Double Feature: Arrival (2016) & The Burrowers (2008)

After some pondering, I’ve decided that I’d like to go back to double features. The only exceptions, which are quite a few, will be theatre viewings, festival screenings, screeners, Disney and Hong Kong film reviews.

The first double feature to kick off the year are back to somewhat of a alphabetical order formula. Hopefully this time, I’ll get through the alphabet a second round although I can already see it being double featured somewhat scattered as there is at least one Disney title in between. I’ve been meaning to watch Arrival forever and it finally landed on Netflix and then as I try to get through a lot of the titles I’d like to watch on Shudder, my husband chose The Burrowers.

Let’s check it out!

Arrival (2016)


Director: Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark O’Brien, Tzi Ma

When twelve mysterious spacecrafts appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors. – IMDB

I always end up slapping myself everything I finish up a Denis Villeneuve as to why it took me so long to catch up with his film. Although, I’ve seen more of his films before he broke out in Hollywood which are also titles that I always suggest everyone to watch. Arrival is a breathtaking experience, both in its story telling execution and its character development as well as the cinematography and the setting (in the beautiful province of Quebec more rural areas).

Let’s start with the cast. The main players is Amy Adams who plays Louise Banks. She is fantastic as she is not only smart but also incredibly sensitive as a character that always gets questioned for her risky approach and dedication and fascination of deciphering this alien language and her defense of the situation. There is a level of obsession as she is constantly surrounded by the symbols that she is given as she dives into learning the language. Playing opposite here is Jeremy Renner who is more of the scientist of the operation who is fascinated not only by the situation but seemingly more so by Amy Adams character here and rightfully so. He defends and supports a lot of her decisions. Playing the Colonel, who pretty much runs the operation here is Forest Whitaker who is amazing as always. To be fair, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker are all actors that I absolutely enjoy watching so Arrival already had the winning cast for myself.

With Denis Villeneuve at the helm of this, there is always a darker atmosphere here. The urgency of the situation and the threatened environment of the world is definitely a selling point here as it feels quite authentic if the world were to have 12 alien spaceships land in 12 difference places how everyone would react. However, as the story unfolds and Louise Banks figures out the linguistics of it all, we also get brought into the world of what this all is about and to avoid any spoiler territory, it is a thought – provoking and meaningful sort of ending. Arrival is a definitely a must-watch!

The Burrowers (2008)

The Burrowers

Director (and writer) J.T. Petty

Cast: Clancy Brown, David Busse, William Mapother, Jocelin Donahue, Karl Geary, Doug Hutchison, Laura Leighton

In the Wild West a rescue party sets out to find a family of settlers that has vanished from their home under mysterious circumstances. – IMDB

We’re huge fans of monster movies. Tremors is a hit at our house and The Burrowers honestly reminded us a bit of that when we were just looking at the poster. However, The Burrowers is a rather Western style horror film as it is centers itself around a feud between the Americans and their prejudice thoughts on the Amerindians being involved all the deaths and disappearances happening. For that reason, it does sometimes feel like the movie forgets what its trying to do. It does do a good job at the hatred between certain characters towards the Native Americans  and while the story wants to use that as well to drop the little clues here and there to show what The Burrowers are actually and their goal, at point, it goes so slow that it seems to lose its momentum and heads directly into the boring spot more frequent than I’d like.

To be fair, I’m not one to pick at slower paced films. However, The Burrowers seems to be just a lackluster experience. Somehow, I ended up being more affected by the brutality and the depth of the hatred and the actions of a certain character towards Amerindians than actually the threat of The Burrowers themselves. The idea of The Burrowers was a good villain when the whole story pieced together however, the execution of the story itself just didn’t work for me.


Poor Agnes (2017)

Poor Agnes (2017)

poor agnes

Director: Navin Ramaswaran

Cast: Lora Burkes, Robert Notman, Will Conlon

A serial killer and her next victim form an unexpected relationship. – IMDB

First Official Trailer

Slow-burn, psychological and wildly violent, Poor Agnes captures its audience by allowing us into the world of a psychopath and serial killer Agnes who lures her victims into her carefully laid plans until she invites a private investigator, Mike posing as a journalist who is looking into her ex-boyfriend’s mysterious disappearance years ago and ends up capturing him. There is so much to love about Poor Agnes in some of the most unsettling ways. This has a lot to do with its small cast particularly Lora Burkes, who plays this mysterious woman, Agnes who is the focal point of the entire movie.

Perhaps playing the role of Agnes for Lora Burke may have more guideline, however for the audience, the appeal of Agnes was wondering why she did all this. Was it something in her past that caused her to become like this? However, the audience soon learns that it isn’t important why she does this but rather the concern is in how she treats Mike in both a manipulating and ruthless way while oddly creating a bond with him. As the movie goes along, its disturbing to realize that she has these narcissistic and godly beliefs about herself and her mission in life. In fact some scenes and dialogue might remind you of a female version of American Psycho. However, Mike seems to be caught however as the audience, we also see both sides and how her plans also seem to be changing as she grasps to keep it in line with what she wants to achieve but also be influenced by this bond. Ironically, Agnes isn’t “poor” at all. She isn’t looking for sympathy or pity and probably doesn’t deserve it. This movie is a slice of her life and a snippet of who she is. Why and how she became this way and what influenced her to believe in what she believes is the right thing and justifies her action doesn’t really matter that much at the end. Probably if you watch this enough times and analyze her monologues throughout, which are also quite profound, there might be a tie somewhere. Poor Agnes will make you think and its because of the complex characters that we don’t know everything about that makes it a great psychological thriller.

Poor Agnes is an unsettling little indie film and achieves a lot. It is a character study of Agnes who is a character that is concerned about looking good, staying healthy and keeping true to her psychopathic nature. She’s a complex character and what she believes about her role in the world is crazy but the outstanding performance from Lora Burke will make you believe Agnes. While this movie is a slow-burn experience, it is also one that will quietly make you hold onto your seats as you watch her unlikely relationship and bond with Mike also unfold. Its unpredictable just like Agnes’ personality. This is one that I highly recommend: this is a truly thrilling psychological thriller.