Island of Death (1975)
Directed by Nico Mastorakis

Starring Gerard Gonalons Jessica Dublin John Blackman (II) Robert Behling

Not really a horror so much as a hardcore cult-exploitation film, "Island of Death" was inspired by the success of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre." But unlike that film, it doesn't have a "good" protagonist you're supposed to identify with. Instead, we get a psychotic young couple (Belling and Ryall) who have just arrived on a Greek island, apparently for a holiday.

The best scene of the film comes early on, when the couple decide, on the spur of the moment, to go have sex in a phone booth and call the young man's mother while they're doing it. The mother is of course outraged and horrified, and you think you're just about to start watching a delicious John Waters-esque grindhouse classic. Unfortunately things start falling apart from there.

As it turns out, the couple are homicidal (hence the title "Island of Death"), and they start picking off people on the island one by one, usually seducing them before going in for the kill. While the opening was funny, these later scenes just seem like run-by-the-numbers killings. With no real "damsel in distress" protagonist to truly care about, the film becomes pretty boring. Even the gore effects are pretty substandard. We get the idea that Belling's character is a religious fanatic, hell-bent on killing anyone he thinks is perverted (gays, a man who has sex with his "wife," etc.).

Still, "Island of Death" does have the 1970s charm that will instantly raise a horror film several notches above a modern movie. It's beautifully photographed, and the romantic ocean sillouettes that director Nico Mastorakis serves up whenever the young couple have a serious discussion provide a striking contrast to the murdering that they're doing. But it's not enough to save this flawed feature, which does enjoy a cult following around the world, probably thanks to the fact that it features things like bestiality, incest and other taboo attractions. It's a strange movie to say the least, and its legendary goat rape scene remains the talk of the sicko film community. (No goats were actually harmed during the production.) But although "Island of Death" is a cult movie, it's no cult classic. It just ain't a good movie, although seeing it at a midnight screening with a group of drunken revelers could be a lot of fun.

Director Mastorakis would go on to direct a number of action films and erotic thrillers, including "Ninja Academy" and the video store staple "Blind Date." The movie's official Web site is here.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

Posted by on September 13, 2010

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