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Island of Death (1976)

This review originally appeared on the old Wordpress site on October 8, 2017 as part of the annual Countdown to Halloween.


Island of Death (1976) is the kind of movie I don't really want to tell anyone I watched. When you're a horror fan, you see a lot of films that push the boundaries of good taste. However, they usually have some redeeming qualities to justify the time you spend with them, or have some artistic merits hidden within them. I'm hard-pressed to find any such qualities or merits in Island of Death.


It's interesting, then, when you learn why it was made in the first place. According to IMDb, writer-director Nico Mastorakis was inspired after watching The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). When he noticed how much money the film was earning, he decided to make one that was more violent and perverse so that it could make even more money. How's that for logic? In interviews, Mastorakis has said that money was his only motivation for making the film.


He wrote the script in one week. Or, as it seems, he strung together the series of distasteful, but not necessarily gory, scenes in one week. The plot, such as it is, is simple: a young couple, Christopher (Robert Behling) and Celia (Jane Lyle), travel around the Greek island of Mykonos killing anyone they deem perverted. What's most disturbing about this concept is that they are more perverted than anyone they kill.


The murders allow all kinds of taboos to be shown on screen. If you had a checklist, you could mark them one-by-one:

  • Christopher and Celia have sex in a phone booth while he's on the phone with his mother

  • When Celia won't have sex with him, he has sex with a goat (and then kills it)

  • The couple crucifies a French man on the ground, then makes him drink paint

  • While he's performing fellatio on a gun, Celia fires it into his mouth

The atrocities go on and on. I have no desire to keep listing them. I think you get the picture. I will add, though, that one of the couple usually takes pictures while the other is committing one of the horrible crimes. They log their experiences in a red diary they purchase for $2.00.


Speaking of $2.00, that was probably the budget for this movie. As mentioned, none of the crimes are particularly gory, so I don't think there was any part of the $2.00 budget left for special effects. While still disgusting, over-the-top gore could have at least made these scenes interesting. As it is, they aren't. Neither is the movie. There's nothing more to it than a senseless string of murders.


Early in its extremely overlong 108-minute running time, I thought there was actually going to be a story. I got the impression the couple had committed a similar killing spree in London and were being pursued for it by Foster (Gerard Gonalons). He takes a plane to Athens and then arrives in Mykonos… only to become their next victim in a ridiculous aerial murder scene. (All right, I'll admit it's a fun scene, but by this time I was desensitized to any joy whatsoever.)


There's sort of a twist at the end, but after everything to which you've been subjected, the impact is nil. You know, what can be worse than everything we've witnessed up to that point? With a movie like Island of Death, you don't really want to ask that question. It's one of those "be careful what you ask" questions, like "what else could possibly happen?" or "how much worse could it get?"


If you want to glean anything interesting from this entire endeavor, research Mastorakis. I won't spoil any of the story for you, but let's just say it involves Candid Camera, Aristotle Onassis-Jackie Kennedy-Ted Kennedy, John Lennon and Vangelis. The man has made some bold choices in his life. Making Island of Death was not one of them. He may have made some money; I don't know. But he surely didn't make anything of value


Written by Nico Mastorakis

Directed by Nico Mastorakis

Starring Robert Behling, Jane Lyle

RT 108 min.

Released in Greece, 1976

Home Video Arrow Video (Blu-ray)

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