One of the most shocking films ever made finally comes to DVD with every appalling image intact! A jaded couple staying on vacation at a Greek island wreaks havoc on the inhabitants, indulging in every depraved act imagina... more »ble until events spiral to a twisted surprise ending you'll never forget!« less
"You have to hand it to Greek director Nico Mastorakis: in a lengthy interview included on the DVD version of his 1975 exploitation classic "Island of Death," he blatantly admits that he created this movie in order to make money. After viewing "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" in Europe, Mastorakis knew he could create something comparable to the upsetting images he saw on the screen. Shortly after this event, he sat down and wrote the script for "Island of Death," intentionally imbuing it with the most shocking and nauseating of situations. The difference between Mastorakis and the majority of exploitation directors is that this Greek knows how to direct a film. "The Island of Death" is not so much a gritty movie as it is a series of striking contrasts captured beautifully on film. Don't get me wrong; it is sure to deliver a few jolts to even the most hardened of horror fans, with its over the top sadism and blasé attitude about violence.Two British tourists named Christopher and Celia arrive on the Greek island of Mykonos in order to see the sights and rub elbows with the locals. Christopher likes the island because it has 350 churches spread across the landscape, meaning that the people on the island are especially religious. This perceived religiosity of the locals gives Christopher and Celia the idea that people of loose moral standards and questionable backgrounds aren't welcome. Therefore, Christopher decides Mykonos is the perfect place to start a personal pogrom against the local degenerates. The two embark on a bloody rampage of bizarre violence against select segments of the population by torturing, mutilating, and killing a French painter, two homosexuals, a lesbian, and a woman who sleeps around. Christopher is definitely the ringleader in these appalling crimes, and since he considers himself an angel of God sent to restore decency to the world, there exists not a whit of guilt about the crimes committed by the couple. For some inexplicable reason, Celia and Christopher tote a camera around with them in order to capture the carnage on film so they can gloat about their acts afterwards in the privacy of their rented cottage. Despite the fact that there is a private detective on their tail, Chris and Celia possess little reservations about upping the body count. Predictably, there exists a bit of a twist ending that really doesn't come as much of a shock in this type of film. Let's just say that one of the two get their comeuppance in the final scenes.A lot of hype surrounds this film. The fact that Britain banned its release for many years seems to fuel many people's desire to see it. After viewing "The Island of Death," I readily understood why British censors balked at giving this one a pass. At least one sexual situation involves an activity more suited to a fetish film, but overall, Mastorakis skimps on excessive blood and gore. We see the killings and tortures, but the camera usually cuts away before any serious sauce flows. The disturbing elements of the film don't come from great special effects; rather, it's the idea of seeing someone forced to drink whitewash, die by hanging off a moving plane, receive a bath in lime, and have their face burned with flaming aerosol. The crude crucifixion performed on the hapless painter certainly didn't give those censors any breathing room, either. So, for those interested in "The Island of Death" because they think it is loaded with gore, you have been alerted that this film does not contain much in the way of substantial grue.I wrote that this picture is a series of striking contrasts, and that's because the island of Mykonos is a gorgeously picturesque backdrop for the nightmare unfolding in the camera's foreground. The smartly whitewashed houses, the narrow streets, the lapping waves, the bright blue skies, and the wide-open fields look great while presenting a troubling contrast to the atrocities committed by Christopher and Celia. This is where the picture quality of the DVD comes in: the transfer is splendid; with colors so vivid it feels as though you are on the island itself. Mastorakis's use of background coupled with imaginative camera angles creates a truly memorable film experience. There are few horror/exploitation films with the type of marvelous cinematography found in "Island of Death." Add in the unusual soundtrack, and you have yourself a winner here.Still, this movie is a rather low budget number, with some awkward acting and jarring edits that disturb the flow of the film. The lack of gore is disappointing for hardcore gorehounds such as myself (as if the disgusting subject matter isn't enough!), but overall I really enjoyed this movie. The interview with Mastorakis, who comes across as a friendly chap, illuminates many of the finer points of the film, providing a sort of mini-commentary track conveying lots of information on the production of the film, the actors, and the critical reactions to the project. The only other extras on the disc are music videos of the songs in the movie. "Island of Death" may not approach the levels of offensiveness found in such classics as "Cannibal Holocaust" or "Salo," but it is still a grimly effective little picture capable of clearing a packed movie theater if it chose to do so."
The Film that Censors Didn't Want You to See!
Michael R Gates | Nampa, ID United States | 03/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, it's true that writer/director Nico Mastorakis created 1975's ISLAND OF DEATH for the sole purpose of riding on the coattails of the success and popularity of Tobe Hooper's now-classic THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974)--i.e., he did it just to make money--but that doesn't mean that the film isn't worth watching. Even when the impetus is financial gain, a true aesthete can't simply turn off the skills and talents. Admittedly, the acting abilities of the principals in ISLAND OF DEATH fall noticeably short, but Mastorakis' cinematic abilities are clearly evident.
The film is expertly directed, wonderfully photographed, and the writing is way above that of the average low-budget fare served up in this genre. In spite of his intentions to whip up a quick little moneymaker, Mastorakis manages to cook up a gritty but nonetheless compelling little satire that harshly but literately addresses such social issues as unfettered hedonism and sexual promiscuity, religious expediency, homophobia, incest, and much more.
So the film elements do, as a whole, reveal that the Mastorakis is talented and cares about the ultimate quality of his work. But it also offers fans of the splatter-film genre those elements that they crave. Indeed, there is T&A aplenty--cute and curvy little blonde Jane Ryall, who plays the female lead, peels off her attire several times throughout, and other beauties also appear in the buff from time to time--and though many of the actual killings take place just out of frame, blood still splashes into the picture, and the various methods of homicide depicted are fresh (even today!) and creative enough to keep the most ardent genre fans happy.
By today's standards, the violence and sexual subject matter are hardly shocking to Western viewers, but at the time of its release, ISLAND OF DEATH was banned in many countries and heavily edited in others. It was still a groundbreaker at the time, though, and those familiar with the horror and splatter films of the era will easily recognize the influence it has had, along with its progenitor THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, on important genre films that followed.
The DVD distributed by Image Entertainment offers a beautifully restored, uncut version of ISLAND OF DEATH in its original aspect ratio (in spite of claims to the contrary) of roughly 1.33:1. Also included is a fascinating interview with director Mastorakis, as well as some videos featuring songs from the film's original score. This wonderful version of a cinematic icon is well worth the price of admission."
Pretty decent for shock and perversity value
Aaron Edwards | Campbellsburg, IN United States | 10/15/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is not of interest to everyone, only those that enjoy watching films that push the limits of what an audience is willing to watch. If you are a gore hound, then this probably isn't the movie for you, as it has hardly any gore and minimal blood. Not to say that there isn't violence, most of it just happens off camera. The real interesting part of this movie is the perverse acts that the main characters partake in. These acts include rape, murder, torture and bestiality. If you are interested in watching a movie that has very poor acting and a paper thin script, just to see what lengths a film may go to try to get banned, then this is the movie for you.The director has an interview on the DVD in which he states that this movie was only made to shock people and make money. He said that they were wanting to cash in on the success of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. While this movie is nowhere near the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, for the right audience, this movie has its place."
No animals were raped during this movie
C. Christopher Blackshere | I am the devil's reject | 03/02/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The sex with the goat was totally consensual. The agonizing BAAAAA's you hear really illustrate the acting prowess of Billy the Goat, in this his breakout role.
ISLAND OF DEATH('75)was just a blatant attempt to cash in on pure shock value. Audiences were still recovering from the alarming jolt generated by TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE the year before. Director Mastorakis artfully captures the beauty of a tropical paradise, and contradicts this appealing imagery with the most blatant and disgusting events. 70's exploitation, here..we..GO!
A sadistic couple wrecks havoc by roaming around the island committing random acts of violence. Sex, torture, murder, impregnating animals...ah yes, good times. They are supposedly punishing the wicked, doing God's good will. If you have indecent vices or loose morals, you might be forced to drink a gallon of paint or get your head chopped off by a bulldozer.
For a film that was immediately banned, the violence doesn't get especially graphic. Much of the heinous crimes occur just off screen, with the brutality implied in a harsh, uncomfortable manner. There's lots of sex with full frontal shots, plus incest thrown in just for kicks. To top it off there is some humor as well, although it might just offend many.
The killers proceed on their savage mission with absolutely no respect for human life. Very nonchalant with their slayings, which is unsettling but also hard to fathom. Plus the acting in this isn't particularly convincing. Still, all-in-all this is a worthy cult film bound to appease fans of exploitation cinema."
Will be on your mind for a while...
C. Christopher Blackshere | 12/31/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Inspired by the shock impact that TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE had on thrill-seeking audiences, Nico Mastorakis's Greek-lensed cult oddity is an indescribable exercise in over-the-top depravity. The intention was to break every taboo in the book, and Mastorakis clearly does that here (and I must admit, I've never seen a guy get farted on before in a horror picture!). Although there's plenty of sex and violence on-screen, much if it is implied or not excessively displayed, so the ideas in the film are more unsettling than what you actually do see. This one will be on your mind for a while, but you probably won't have to shower after viewing it.Mastorakis was instrumental in the film's DVD release, as he wanted to treat the fans with an uncut official copy without the hassle and expense of fuzzy bootlegs. There's an on-camera interview with him, which is extremely solid and informative, and he relates basically everything you need to know about ISLAND OF DEATH. Mastorakis starts by saying that he made the film simply to create a moneymaker and give himself a name in the industry. It certainly worked since it was a big hit in many countries (but rarely seen in the U.S.), allowing him more lucrative, mainstream work. The interview lasts about 30 minutes, and after seeing how intelligent the director is and what his intentions were, you'll feel more at ease after watching a flick such as this.A former "video nasty" in Great Britain, ISLAND OF DEATH has been released by Image Entertainment and Allstar Pictures Ltd (who previously had it out as a PAL release). The transfer was made from the original elements, giving an extremely clean image with very strong colors. The full frame composition looks to be correct and the audio is fine with minor surface noise apparent from time to time. Only an English track is available with no subtitles (the film was completely shot in English). Aside from the great interview, another extra is the option to play three different songs from the movie, accompanied by video grabs from it."