42nd Street Cinema

Island of Death (1975)

Nico Mastorakis' notorious Island of Death/Ta paidia tou Diavolou.

Shot on the Greek island of Mykonos, Island of Death is the only Greek-lensed flick on the infamous Video Nasty list. The list itself, is predominantly comprised of Italian, Spanish and American produced films, that feature copious amounts of violence, gore and sexual content. However, as the various police constabularies throughout Great Britain continued their witch hunt for alleged nasties, films were often being seized because of their title and/or box art. Most famously being copies of the Dolly Parton, musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982).

This arbitrary selection process led to a number of poorly produced shot-on-video, independent films, as well as professionally produced and commercially viable features, being subsequently prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act and effectively banned outright in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately because of this, the list is 'padded', for use of a better word, with films that are inexcusably terrible and had they have not been caught up in the furore, would be entirely forgotten about. A prime example of this shot-on-video trite would be James Bryan's Don't Go In the Woods (1981), a film that is in fact no more bloodier or explicit in its depiction of violence than Sean S. Cunningham's hugely successful Friday the 13th (1980). Yet, it ended up sharing a spot with some true nasties, such as; Ruggero Deodatos' Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and the film I will now finally begin to talk about, Island of Death.

Starring Robert Behling as Christopher, an avid photographer who is vacationing on the Greek island, Mykonos with his girlfriend Celia (Jane Lyle). This innocent setup undergoes a dramatic tonal change, once Christopher takes it upon himself to phone his mother who's living in London, while having sex with Celia in the phone booth, who we later discover is actually his sister. After the bizarrely perverse act, the couple go about their punishment of the wicked by torturing and killing anyone Christopher deems perverted. Ironic, as Christopher is practically the embodiment of all things 'man' shouldn't do.

Upon waking up the morning after they arrive on the island, Chris chases down a goat, sodomizes it only before slitting it's throat. After a short while it becomes apparent to me that, the films many abhorrent perversions are merely 'gross out' gags and that Nico Mastorakisis simply trying to create a film that really pushes the level of cinematic acceptability. It succeeds, in a sense, but by todays standards it would probably get more laughs than squeals from an audience, especially with films such as I Spit On Your Grave (1978) being remade last year.

One thing I do praise is the way in which the film is shot and edited together. As a lot of the violent sequences are filmed with a wide angle lens, exaggerating the act of violence itself and warping the narrative, which is, for the most part, realistic. Scene changes are also marked by a camera shutter sound, odd but thematically related to the character of Christopher.

Island of Death is certainly one for the exploitation fanatics and is fully earns its placement on the glorified nasty list. But let's get one thing straight, it's not the goriest or most offensive film out there. The infamous Japanese Guinea Pig/Ginī Piggu film series boast more stomach churning carnage than Mastorakis' picture.


CiNEZiLLA said...

Fuckin' epic piece of shit this one! But it's hard to ignore it as it's depraved as hell and god knows it get's the job done!


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