Island of Death Blu-ray Review

     Actors: Robert Behling, Jane Lyle, Jessica Dublin
  • Director: Nico Mastorakis
  • Format: Blu-ray, Color
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Arrow Video
  • Release Date: May 26, 2015
  • Run Time: 101 minutes



              Island of Death is a film best known for being banned, though the shock value has diminished greatly with time and the obvious lack of production values. The concept alone remains horrifyingly grotesque, but ideas are not enough to shock today’s desensitized audiences; they need to be shown the horrors. Lack of budget and Greek filmmaker Nico Mastorakis’ clear intentions in making an exploitation B-film keep Island of Death on the fringes of film history. Mastorakis even admits in the detailed interviews of the special features that the 1976 film was merely made for money, intended to cash in on the schlocky success of Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).


            With this goal in mind, Mastorakis has two main priorities running through the filmmaking process of Island of Death; keep the budget as low as possible, and the content as offensively shocking as imaginable. The B-film writer/director went so far as to play a small role in the film, unwilling to pay as little as $80 to an actor originally cast. Even by today’s standards there is a great deal offensive in the material, including rape, homophobic hate crimes, incest, and even some off-screen bestiality. I’m certain Mastorakis would have even gone as far as to do it onscreen if he’d been able to do it legally or without further cost. In the end, Island of Death lacks the creativity or the scares of Texas Chainsaw, and comes nowhere near the shock value of a film like Cannibal Holocaust (which really did film violence towards animals), but there is still some campy enjoyment to be found for die-hard horror aficionados.


            The plot involves a mysterious British couple named Christopher (Robert Behling) and Celia (Jane Lyle), who travel to a Greek island on vacation, but seem to spend all of their time on bizarre sexual perversions and death. We get our first hint of their mental instability when Christopher calls his mother while having sex with Celia in a phone booth. He then uses his lover as bait for any interested men on the small island, followed by murderous punishment for all unable to resist. Much of the killing is done under the pretense of Christian morality, though it is clear that both Christian and Celia obtain a sick sense of satisfaction from the exploits.


            It is only in the creativity of these kills and sexual situations that Island of Death remains edgy. The actual content is rather tame, because more gore would have required special effects and a budget that might have interfered with Mastorakis’ payday. The victims of the murders are varied enough to offend as many different groups as possible, without ever needing to get creative with the gore of the actual killing. The film does have plenty of nudity, in tradition of most Mastorakis films, though even this may be considered somewhat tame by today’s standards.


            For a complete sampling of the type of B-films that Mastorakis is known for, there is a 4-part (and nearly 3-hour long) documentary about his films in the extras of the Blu-ray, complete with clips and candid interviews from the filmmaker. Also included in the special features is an additional 24-minute interview with Mastorakis, a 35-minute trailer reel of his films, and a featurette where the filmmaker returns to the locations from Island of Death. There is an additional featurette with film historian Stephen Thrower discussing the film’s significance, as well as alternate opening titles and a sound-only feature that provides over 20-minutes of key music from the film.


    Entertainment Value: 3.5/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 3/10

    Historical Significance:  4/10

    Special Features: 9.5/10

    Follow Real Movie News on Facebook and Twitter



    No comments: