Island Of Death (1977) (DVD/Blu-ray review).

May 28, 2015 | By | Reply More

‘Island Of Death’ was made before the Greek economy turned upside down in 1976 which makes it almost 40 years old and here we have a movie set on a beautiful Aegean island. Maybe you can picture a scene of Demis Roussos singing ‘Forever and ever and ever you’ll be the one that shines on me just like the morning sun’, and with the blue sea, bleached white buildings, barbecues on the sand and dazzling skies, you could be on a happy holiday, just like the young couple in the movie who arrive at the scene. They make mad passionate love at night and, in the morning, the man wanders around the garden to encounter a goat. He proceeds to have sex with it, no kidding, and then slashes its throat, chucking it down a well.


All is well that ends well or not in this case! The island is Mykonos and the director was Nico Mastorakis who set out with the ambition of outdoing ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. Maybe he did because the movie was banned and only released in limited forms. This is the first time ‘Island Of Death’ has been offered in its full and uncut version, so now you have the opportunity to view what can only be described as a mixture of murder and pornography. Nothing here is politically correct and there’s no way it could have been made today. Historical interest is probably the reason why it sneaks through to see the light of day and the synopsis, ‘The lucky ones got their brains blown out’, is probably a vast understatement of what’s on offer.

Christopher (Robert Behling) and Celia (Jane Lyle) are the happy couple. He is a keen photographer, developing his own black-and-white prints, a hobby which he takes to excess, especially when taking pictures of the murders he commits. Aiding and abetting is right up Celia’s street and she seems to take as much pleasure out of the killings as he does. Incidentally, it transpires that they are not man and wife but brother and sister, making this an incestuous relationship. I think the director tried to cook up as many controversial situations as possible and stir them up into a Sodom and Gomorrah melting pot. Not a high budget movie by any means, the situation is one which doesn’t leave much to the imagination.

The murders take on grotesque dimensions, such as the more mature lady who gets her head cut off with a bulldozer. Yes, a bulldozer! Talk about going for the overkill but it actually happens. There is sadism, masochism and every such perverted angle you can think about. Mastorakis certainly did his homework on fornicational pastimes. During the movie, we learn that people in London are after the couple and one of the agents flies to the island to sort them out but, as events transpire, he has to hang around for some quite some time, suspended by the neck from an aeroplane. Talk about hanging them high!

You’ll find gays and lesbians, straight and kinky, plus everything imaginable under the sun. Christopher is a self-righteous prig, a bit of a hypocrite and decides to murder anybody who annoys his sense of morality. They start off with an unfortunate chappie who seems to fancy Celia. He ends up being crucified and killed, but not before he had his way with Celia. Next on the list came a couple of homosexual men, one getting sliced with a sword and the other, his head blown apart by a revolver. So it goes on, the grisly murders all associated with sex of some sort. As said, it’s soft porn with murder.

Extra features on the Blu-ray appear in abundance. There is quite a lot on the director Mastorakis, including a four-part documentary on his filmmaking career, plus an archive interview and a short film about him going back to the island. There is another short film about making cult classics, trailers, subtitles and alternative audio tracks. It also comes with a comprehensive booklet.

One of the problems with the movie is that you can’t find a character to identify with because they are all a bit weird, insane or evil. You don’t really care what happens to any of them. What was intended as a video nasty turns to be a black comedy and it all becomes so ridiculous that you’ve got to laugh. As for it being a cult movie, that’s rather questionable. It’s more of an historical oddity which is now so dated that it’s rather meaningless. I think even when Mastorakis made ‘Island Of Death’, it was already outmoded and outdated and now, all these years later, it seems as if it had been made on another planet.

The director went on to do a chatshow in Greece and it was claimed that the actor Robert Behling, who played Christopher, committed suicide four years ago by sticking a tube of propane down his throat. Behling had appeared in several movies until about 1983. Jane Lyle who played Celia made a couple of pornographic movies after ‘Island Of Death’ but then disappeared into obscurity. More famous was Jessica Dublin, the lady decapitated by the bulldozer, who made many films in a long career and died recently aged 94.

As for recommendation, I don’t know how anyone could actually recommend this disc to anybody for in doing so you would have to actually say nice things about it when that’s really impossible for obvious reasons. If it’s for you, by all means buy it but don’t say I told you so.

Rod MacDonald

May 2015

(multi-region DVD/Blu-ray: pub: Arrow Films. 1 duel format DVD and Blu-ray 108 minute film with extras. Price: £11.25 (UK). ASIN: B004CSKCZY)

cast: Bob Belling, Jane Ryall and Jessica Dublin

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Category: Films, Horror

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