31 Days Of Horror (Day 10) – Island Of Death (1976)

Things go bump in the night, others will devour your soul, some will slice, dice eat your heart with a nice glass of Chianti. October has now arrived which can mean only one thing 31 Days of Horror has now arrived again. For the next 31 days, we will dive deep into the catacombs of horror to pick you a movie. Every day will be different ranging from the classics to the weird and wonderful. Many you might have heard of, some will be new to you. There will be personal favourites that you may like, others you may hate but they all will unleash those emotions that make us love horror.

Day 10 Aly Lalji brings us another movie one that will shock, Island Of Death.An original video nasty that includes perverted killers and a goat on the island of Mykonos

The so-called ‘Video Nasties’ was certainly a time of history, controversy and hype. Video stores were hungry for any video they could get their hands on, even if it meant not knowing anything about the film. Censorship was weak and once in order, over two hundred horror films were taken off the shelves through police raids and all these videos became incinerated, increasing curiosity for the public to see what the fuss was about. Popular films like Last House on the Left, I Spit on Your Grave and Cannibal Ferox are to name but a few. They all received modern remakes as there is some merit in these films. However, Island of Death does not carry the strong reputation like its predecessors. Although it’s intriguing to watch it’s one of the most underrated video nasties, nonetheless, carries a strong cult status.

A British couple on a break on a small Greek Island are spreading terror beyond anything the Islanders could have ever imagined. Only stopping every once in a while to shag anything that moves, be it man, woman or animal. But will they go unpunished, or will the inspector from London be able to put an end to their killing spree? Let’s just say this couple make Mickey and Mallory Knox look like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.

The synopsis above may seem quite humdrum, but this is because it is just the basic plot of the film, hiding some of its controversial nature. The characters of Christopher and Celia are probably what we would class as serial killers based on what we see in movies these days, they are the ones who tend to take part in the wickedness that so disgusts them, documenting them with by taking pictures of their seductions and murders. This provides them with evidence of why they must murder the unclean godless victims that they readily discover. The director and writer of Island of the Death Nico Mastorakis don’t hold back on what the two lovers participate in, and this is where the film gets its Video Nasty status.

The Island of Death is heavily influenced by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, hence Mastorakis wanted to create the most disturbing and perverted film ever, and though he may not have managed to achieve that he did create something that is still shocking to this day. Now in its uncut form, we are fortunate to see what Christopher does with the goat, or more rather unfortunate. What happens to him at the end of the film and all the other controversial actions that he and Celia partake in is shocking and hypocritical. It still manages to get a reaction even if the impact is somewhat dulled compared to some more modern films. I.E A Serbian Film and The Human Centipede 2. Mastorakis defends himself on the extra features interview where he states, “The goat was fine and I promise it never got hurt. I’m sure it played in the fields for a very long time.”

Moreover, the extra features include Mastorakis’ hints that he knows that the Island of Death isn’t a masterpiece, but he is proud of its history that has been gained out of what he set out to do with the film. With questionable acting, especially from Jane Lyle as Celia and Nico Mastorakis the director himself in a guest role, there is a certain lack of quality to the film, though in Lyle’s defence she was not an actress but a model and her performance with its weaknesses actually give the film a certain more organic feel. The acting though stands out as a main weakness to the film and this is before we even touch on the rather monotonous script. Some viewers may find that with repeated viewings it does improve, but this is watching with an eye on the film’s history and not its quality. For instance, the scenery of the small Greek island captures picturesque beauty almost encouraging you to visit Greece.

As a controversial film with a history as a Video Nasty, there is a certain aptitude to the Island of Death, especially if you like your horror at extreme levels. A true highlight of the film is the soundtrack which is strangely light-hearted and folky, much like Last House on the Left and actually features lyrics that relate to what we see on-screen. It can be noted that fans of horror soundtracks will enjoy this, and maybe want to track down its availability.

The Island of Death may not be the greatest of movies, but it has its place in the history of extreme cinema due to it being banned for many years. With a nice selection of documentaries and interviews on not only the film but also director Nico Mastorakis, this is an Arrow Video release that is better than the film itself. For people who want to own, or even just finally see the Island of Death in its uncut form then this is the perfect way to see it. One aspect that can be agreed on with Mastorakis is, “this film must never be shown to children. But who do the government think they are to stop you from watching something and taking away your freedom of choice?” It’s a good point, it is your choice to watch it, only on the condition you know what to expect: Perversion, masochism and extreme brutality.

Aly Lalji

Horror | Greece, 1976 | 18 | Dir.Nico Mastorakis | Robert Behling, Jane Lyle, Jessica Dublin

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