27th May2015

‘Island of Death’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Robert Behling, Jane Lyle, Jessica Dublin, Gerard Gonalons, Jannice McConnell, Ray Richardson, Marios Tartas, Efi Bani, Clay Half, Jeremy Rousseau, Elizabeth Spader, Nikos Tsachiridis, Mike Murtagh | Written and Directed by Niko Mastorakis

island-of-death

My tastes in movies tends to be quite broad, but I will always have a love of hunting out the controversial and extreme.  This means I tend to see a lot of the so-called “Video Nasty” movies, as well as the more up to date movies that butt heads with the censors.  Island of Death is a movie that has been given the Arrow Video treatment making its way to Blu-ray, and being a rather controversial Video Nasty of course I’m going to review it especially in an uncut form.

A British couple Christopher (Robert Behling), and Celia (Jane Lyle) are holidaying on a small Greek Island and outwardly seem to be the perfect couple.  In reality though they are behind a spate of recent murders, enacting their own version of justice on the depravity they see around them.  With a police inspector from London hot on their trail will the killing spree be put to an end?

The synopsis above may seem quite mundane, but this is because it is just the basic plot of the film, hiding some of its controversial nature.  The characters of Christopher and Celia are probably what we would class as serial killers based on what we see in movies these days, they are the ones who tend to take part in the depravity that so disgusts them, documenting them with by taking pictures of their seductions and murders.  This provides them with evidence of why they must murder the unclean godless victims that they readily discover.  The director and writer of Island of the Death Nico Mastorakis doesn’t hold back on what the two lovers partake in, and this is where the film gets its Video Nasty reputation.

Born out the director watching The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Mastorakis wanted to create the most depraved film ever, and though he may not have managed to achieve that he did create something that is still shocking to this day.  Now in its uncut form we are lucky (or unlucky enough) to see what Christopher does with the lamb, what happens to him at the end of the film and all the other controversial actions that he and Celia partake in.  It still manages to get a reaction even if the impact is somewhat dulled compared to some more modern films.  For people who love controversy then this is exactly what they want, at least in a historical sense, but does it make for a good film?

In the documentaries included in the special features even Mastorakis hints that he knows that Island of Death isn’t a masterpiece, but he is proud of its history that has been gained out of what he set out to do with the film.  With questionable acting, especially from Jane Lyle as Celia and Nico Mastorakis the director himself in a guest role there is a certain lack of quality to the film, though in Lyle’s defence she was not an actress but a model and her performance with its weaknesses actually gives the film a certain more organic feel.  The acting though stands out as a main weakness to the film and this is before we even touch on the rather lacklustre script.  I did find though that with repeated viewings it does improve, but this is watching with an eye on the film’s history and not its quality.

As a controversial film with a history as a Video Nasty there is a certain flair to Island of Death, especially if you like your horror at extreme levels.  A true highlight for the film is the soundtrack which is strangely light-hearted and folky, much like Last House on the Left and actually features lyrics that relate to what we see on-screen.  I’m sure fans of horror soundtracks will enjoy this, and maybe want to track down its availability.

Island of Death may not be the best of movies, but it has its place in the history of extreme cinema so it will always have a place in my hearth and my horror collection.  With a nice selection of documentaries and interviews on not only the film but also director Nico Mastorakis this is an Arrow Video release that is better than the film itself.  For for people who want to own, or even just finally see Island of Death in its uncut form then this is the perfect way to see it.

**** 4/5

Island of Death is available in the UK on Dual Format DVD and Bluray now from Arrow Video.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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