Island of Death (1975)
By: Mr Intolerance on March 23, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Image (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 102 minutes
The Movie
Director: Nico Mastorakis
Starring: Bob Belling, Jane Lyle Screenplay: Nico Mastorakis
Music: Nikos Lavranos
Tagline: The lucky ones simply got their brains blown out.
Country: Greece
AKA: Island of Perversion, Ta Pedhia Tou Dhiavolou, A Craving For Lust, Cruel Destination, Devils in Mykonos, Psychic Killer 2
A little-known genre classic, and a must for fans of the more extreme end of the horror spectrum. Also known as Devils in Mykynos, Cruel Destination, Killing Daylight, and Island of Perversion among others, this is a pretty horrible piece of work.

Now there'll be some pretty major spoilers in this review, so you may wish to stop here if you're planning to watch it and haven't done so yet.

Still with me? Celia and her brother Christopher, who's posing as her husband, spend their time on Mykynos either fucking, or killing people the brother judges to be perverts – homosexuals of either gender, the unfaithful, the French, doesn't really matter – which is a bit of a surprise when you consider that Christopher fucks not only his sister, but also a goat before slitting it's throat inside the first fifteen minutes of the film.

Not exactly a family feel-good movie. In fact this horrible piece of work is a whole bunch of murder set pieces crammed together. There's little in the way of plot, just showing different ways of killing people. Besides slashing and shooting there's making people drink paint, crucifixions, hangings from airplanes, drowning in toilets, being harpooned, burning off face and breasts with an aerosol deodorant, being submerged in quicklime… it's not pretty.

The one question here is: who is really in control: Celia, or her brother? It's kind of like the whole sadist/masochist thing – the masochist is really the one who runs the show, despite the appearance to the contrary. Christopher might be the dominant figure, but he seems to crave Celia's approbation, and that kind of puts him in her thrall. She's very definitely the boss at the end.

The film is cold and nasty. By the time you wind your way to the end, you'll have changed sympathies with different characters and possibly found yourself morally in a horrible place. Say, for example, when Celia gets raped for the first time, you're sort of torn between the fact she's been responsible for pouring lead paint down somebody's throat and has blown some poor bastard's head off, and the fact that she's being raped. By the time she gets raped for the second time, you don't hesitate in sympathising with her. This does put you in a strange moral situation. But by the time Christopher is at the end of his killing spree, you do sort of know where you sit. Bear in mind that by the time we reach the end, we've seen Christopher and Celia do some truly abhorrent things – I know that the whole idea of poetic justice is a little too "pat" these days, but given the context in which the film was made, a guy who's killed loads of people in gruesome ways, tortured some of them, and pissed on one of them, had to be called to account.

I'm not suggesting that this is the Holy Grail of horror and exploitation, but it is definitely one for the connoisseur of 70s horror. Sure the acting is a little rudimentary, to say the least, and there are some parts where you just want to laugh out loud (Christopher chasing Paul through the streets waving a cutlass over his head like a drunken pirate never fails to get a rise out of me, and as for the bestiality scene – oh, brother…), but it still packs one hell of a wallop. My only gripe? The pacing. It's quite a slow movie, and that detracts from the impact. I did find myself glancing at my metaphorical watch a few times.

This isn't for everyone; it's really only for serious fans of the genre. Don't go in expecting August Underground, but buckle up regardless because it's a bumpy ride. You won't find bucket after bucket of blood (and some of the special effects are a bit on the lame side), but the levels of sadism achieved are pretty intense. It's an ugly piece of work, but an undeniably strong one.

Y'know, I do feel a bit sorry for the goat.
This has been sourced from the original negative, so you can imagine that it's looking pretty good – superb rich and vibrant colour, in fact. So, basically, it looks great, although it seemed a little soft – the Vipco PAL version is a little sharper in terms of definition, but I think I'm nitpicking here – and anyway, the Vipco version is cut by over ten minutes.
Ah, yes – Island of Death brought to you in glorious, easy to understand mono!
Extra Features
There's a very interesting interview with the director, where he states that the film was made solely for the purpose of making money, having been inspired after watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. No artistic pretensions here! Kind of refreshingly honest, actually. That aside, there's little else – video clips for the songs (and rather abbreviated versions thereof) – basically they're pastiches of "highlights" from the film. Nothing terribly exciting. And that's it. This doesn't make for value for money.
The Verdict
I know I waxed lyrical about this being a lost classic, but I'm knocking off a point for the fact that as I mentioned above, it's pretty much just a collection of murder set pieces. I mean, we never get any real explanation as to why Christopher does what he does (his rants about "perversion" hold no water given his sexual relationship with his sister, and the above-mentioned goat-fucking), whether he's been doing it for a while (you'd have to guess so, given that the detective turns up), the background to his relationship with Celia, etc, etc, etc. Oh, and also for the song over the opening credits. It sucked.
Movie Score
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