Monday, March 06, 2017
Island Of Death (1976)
DIRECTOR: Nico Mastorakis
WRITER: Nico Mastorakis
Christopher and Celia are a couple from the UK who are holidaying on the island of Mykonos, Greece. While on holiday, the start to wreak havoc on the Greek Island by indulging in a large amount of sex, rape, murder, and bestiality. They see fit in their warped minds to brutally murder anyone who they deem to be perverted. The police are on the case but are no closer to catching these evil killers.
Island Of Death is quite an infamous little movie. Released back in the seventies, the film had quite the reputation. The movie was banned around the globe. It even ended up on the video nasties shit list and wasn't ever released in its full uncut version until thirty-five years later. When a movie like this manages to build such a bad reputation based on such public outrage and outcry, I start taking notice and get very excited to see the film. Controversy is one way to get my blood pumping for a film.
The director also made the claim that he was inspired to make Island Of Death after watching The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. To make such a claim also had me overly excited to see the film. The original TCM is one of my all-time favourite horror films. So if this movie ended up anywhere near as groundbreaking as that, I imagined, I'd enjoy this film. Sadly, the director also came out and stated that he had not a lick of artistic motivation and it was always about the money.
After hearing that last sentence and finally watching Island Of Death. I can see that not much love at all went into this movie. This is a movie that was made to shock. A movie to push the buttons and repulse viewers of the seventies. A film that went out of its way to show you just how evil human nature is and for that, the movie worked. While not all that extreme, I can only imagine how this would have played with early critics and at screenings. I guarantee that the UK censors wouldn't have been pleased that the two leads were portrayed as hedonistic serial killers.
The movie starts immediately. We are introduced to our couple, and within minutes, the male is indulging in some bestiality. His wife, who is asleep while he is out in the garden penetrating a goat. From this point on, the movie doesn't turn back. We have scenes of women being abused and raped, gay and lesbian people getting the worse of it. This couple goes out of their way to break into these innocent folk's homes and murder them brutally because they see them as perverted. This isn't a movie you sit down to enjoy. I imagine its the sort of film Donald Trump shows at family gatherings.
What annoyed me about the scenes that involved the murders of LGBT people isn't the murder themselves. This is a very real thing, and it happens daily. As a gay man and a horror fanatic, I expect that if the movie calls for scenes of such nature, really show the horrors of what it's like for LGBT people. Don't downplay the terrible scenes by portraying the characters as screaming, mincing, makeup wearing queens. They all come across as these caricatures. Show them as human beings. I imagine back in the seventies, all people saw us that way and probably still do. It really irked me.
The movie is sadly scare-free. The film doesn't deliver when it comes to any suspense or tension. As I mentioned above, this feels like a story that is all about the gratuitous nudity, sex and a perverse couple who are out to murder. This is for shock value only. The movie could have tried for something darker and scarier, but I think the intention is to be off-putting and gross more than anything else and for that, it succeeds but as a scary horror movie, it's a dud.
Where the movie also loses points for me is that it all amounts to nothing. We don't get much of a backstory as to what started the characters on their quest for sex and murder. We are dropped right into their killing spree. We don't know anything about them before the trip. I get that this sometimes plays better when trying to be bleak and not give too much away. When you have a detective who is trying to track them down from the UK, and he suddenly shows up, and he is killed as soon as he arrives. It would have played better had we been given a history of their crimes or something to show how long these two have been at this whole murder thing. The movie also just ends, and it annoyed me.
Lastly, we come to the acting. This is another film that spends most of its time with our killer couple. We aren't given much character development when it comes to the victims. They show up and are raped and murdered. So we don't get much from the supporting cast. The leading actors Robert Behling plays a psychotic and sex-crazed killer very well. He is heartless, and his performance shows that. Jane Lyle is the one who shines. She plays a killer, but at times, she is given more to work with as she struggles with her crimes. I thought she was the stand out in the film for me.
DEATH TOLL: 9
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A man has sex with and kills a goat.
- A man has his hands nailed to concrete.
- Someone is drowned by choking on goats milk.
- Someone is repeatedly slashed with a sword.
- A man is shot in the head.
- Someone is hung by a noose from a plane.
- A woman is stabbed in the chest with a sickle.
- A woman's face is burnt off.
- A woman is given a hot shot of heroin.
- Women are beaten and raped.
- A man is shot with a fishing spear.
- Someone is drowned in a toilet.
- A man urinates on a woman.
- A man slams a woman's head into the ground.
- A woman's head is decapitated by a bulldozer blade.
Island Of Death is a film that deserves to be seen. Even if the movie is only half way there for me, I still think it warrants a watch based on its infamy. If you are watching the Video Nasties list, you should track this down. You will see why this movie made the list. It's taboo, the acting is decent and filming on the island of Mykonos in Greece lends this film a beauty rarely seen in a slasher film. Where this movie fails is that we get no character development, the movie ends with no resolution, the movie is shock value for the sake of it, and it's not very enjoyable. I can't say I enjoyed the film. If rape, bestiality, sex, and murder are your things, you'll find something to love about Island Of Death.