Island of Death | Varied Celluloid

Island of Death

Posted by Josh Samford On October - 13 - 2008
Plot Outline: Two lovers who claim to be cousins, Christopher and Celia are on the run from the police and stop off at a small Greek island. At first the two seem like average incestuous freaks, but then the murder and mayhem begins. Christopher seems to get the idea that it’s his job to kill sexual deviants for god (but having sex with animals appears to be A-OK), and before long Chris seems to have gotten the pair of them in way over there head. Will they see the error of their ways and decide a life of perversity isn’t for them? Or will they spiral out of control until one or both of them are dead? If I were a betting man, I would put money on the second option.


  


The Review: This is one wacky flick. Just, wacky. It seems to be part art film, and part exploitation madness. It reminds me a lot of another not too well known horror film from the era, Dead People (AKA: Messiah of Evil), but I enjoyed this film much, much more. The film actually had something I totally didn’t expect from it; style. There are actually some really great shots in the film and even better locations. It doesn’t come into play too much in reviews, but for a 70s era exploitation flick that wasn’t made in Italy, I was quite shocked by how great things were staged. For any of you who have seen the film and hated it, you’re probably blown away that I could find something to brag about in the film, but as far as bad movies intended to shock go, this is actually a fairly well put together film. Of course, that doesn’t excuse the terribly bad writing (much of which looks to be improvised) and the bizarre plot inconsistencies (If Christopher’s parents are from England, and Celia is related to him showing that they grew up together, then why in the world does he have an American accent? Same goes for the black cop who looks like Link from the Mod Squad, but appears to be a British private detective), but that’s all part of the charm. These things will either make you laugh or make you bitter. They didn’t bother me, and I ended up enjoying the film far more than I think I’m supposed to. After first watching it, I was convinced I would give it a four but after thinking things over I’ve decided a three is best.

For those of you who came to be shocked, you may be walking away disappointed. I guess it depends on the person, but Island of Death certainly didn’t make me queezy or make me turn my head. The only scene that I found was uproariously over the top was (This is a spoiler folks, if you don’t want to read about any of the deaths/scenes of perversion, don’t read on) the scene where Christopher urinated on a old whore whom he felt deserved to die. I wasn’t shocked, I was laughing, but never the less the very idea of the act gives me the heebie jeebies. Frankly by today’s standards and especially to a somewhat jaded horror fan like myself, this isn’t going to shock you all too much. That doesn’t make it bad, not in the least. In fact, I would say Island of Death is one of the best cheap exploitation flicks I’ve seen in a long long time. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, the way I see it Island of Death is a bad film but not so bad it becomes a walking joke and not so good that it takes it’s self serious as a horror film. It lies in the center but finds it’s own place. It’s a film with a visual panache that puts Wes Craven’s early films to shame, but it’s also a film that features some HORRRIBLE dialogue and even worse acting. The single bit of worst dialogue I’ve already seen in another review but I thought I would bring it up anyway. During a dinner scene between Christopher and Celia, they invite a French man over to the table, because for some reason Chrissy boy didn’t like him so bringing him to the table was somehow a good idea. When the Frenchman let’s Celia know that he is a painter she says “I love painters” and he tells her (in thick French accent that may or may not be faked) “well, ummm, I’m sure painter love you too!”… this is what passes for wit in this film.

I’m almost 100% sure that most of the dialogue in the film, particularly scenes that feature someone other than our main actors, was improvised. It seemed fairly obvious to me after one scene where a writer comes to visit Christopher and Celia. The writer says he’s writing a book about violence on the island or something, and after the first few seconds it’s just painfully obvious this guy has either forgot his lines or doesn’t have any to remember. He stumbles on his words, he and Christopher speak at the same time, it’s just embarrassing. Then after the scene is established, the frame stops and goes into some kind of embossed image and Christopher does a voice over explaining what has happened. It couldn’t be more obvious, and sadly there are plenty of other scenes that are just as amateur (look for the rape scene in the film where they cut to a bird three or so times, go ahead and believe that is there to represent something all you want, but it’s obviously just an easy way to cut the scene down without looking stupid), no offense to the director. He did a fabulous job with what he had here. There’s a couple of little things that really caught my attention, like during some violent scenes when the characters are taking pictures of their mayhem we’ll actually switch to the still camera and see what they see. Also when transitioning shots or fading out, the director added the sound of the still camera snapping. It doesn’t really add anything to the film, but it’s just a cool little thing, something to let you know the director wasn’t just some hack (although his career since this film hasn’t exactly spoken volumes for his talent).

If you’re not willing to accept that the director has talent, the least you could see the film for is the perverse sexual scenes. Incest, bestiality, straight, gay; all bases are covered. I don’t exactly get excited (I mean that as in a excited attitude, not ugh…) about films with goat sex or urination, but I have to admit this film made me laugh. If that type of stuff doesn’t exactly equate to hilarity for you, then this isn’t exactly going to be your bad. My basic way of looking at it is this; If you can stomach it, see it! It gets a three only because of the inconsistencies, but this is a VERY high three.

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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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