Of all the infamous nasties out there Island of Death, for me seemed to be one of the more luridly attractive ones. I.e. contained the most depravity! Having finally tracked down a reasonably priced and uncut version of the film I finally got to see what all the fuss is about.
It is certain from the outset that explicit violence and gore are not what got this film banned. The nails through the hands and force-fed paint scenes are certainly no worse than what you see in glossy 15-rated Hollywood horrors now. I think what offended with this one is not so much the actions of the film's murderers, Celia and Christopher but the lifestyles of their victims.
Oh yes, gay, lesbian and straight, the promiscuous and the drug users are all in the cross-hair here. The film maker even takes time out to execute a black detective. Just for having the audacity to try and bring good old Chris and Celia to justice.
While the violence is muted the sleaze certainly isn't. Things bash along in a fashion that stops a little shy (a little too shy if you ask me) of softcore porn. But don't worry, what it lacks in explicitness it more than makes up for in frequency. You will be pleased to know that the absolutely gorgeous heroine (or should that be villainess) played exceptionally woodenly by Jane Ryall only ever keeps herself covered up for thirty seconds at a time.
In truth Island of Death is worth it for Ryall alone. She genuinely looks good enough to eat and that whole ditsy, can't act thing that she does only serves to heighten her appeal! For me anyway. Rather disturbingly, the comely Ms Ryall appeared briefly in one other crap Greek film and then was never heard from again. I mourn.
The story of Island of Death is the usual poor fodder, although certainly superior to many. The Bonnie and Clyde thing is never fully realised however as it is implied that Christopher is the real psycho and Celia is just meekly caught up in his wake - occasionally looking wretched and criticising his actions. But yet she carries out probably the most cold killing in the whole film. What the hell is that all about? Either make her a proper victim or a proper villain. It also irked me a bit the speed at which she turns on Christopher at the end. Mind you, this is trash cinema after all. Island of Death plays out almost like a crap sex comedy and that isn't a bad thing. No one likes a bad film that takes itself too seriously.
This is definitely one for fans of trash films and 'so bad its good stuff' (me). The acting is universally poor with a couple of the characters apparently just reading their lines conversationally.
Aside from that however, it actually looks quite professionally made. The shots are reasonably framed and the camera-work not too static. The editing has dated it a bit but that just lends it that inimitable sleazy 70's feel.
So thats about it, nasty in tone, but not in action perhaps? A little kinky, certainly: Just check out the promiscuous older woman being urinated on. Does it deserve its infamy? Probably not, but its still a good bit better than most of the dross on the nasty's list.
Oh yeah, bring back Jane Ryall.
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