Trivia We watched this baby at Zombie Club back in 2004, have a read here.
We also liked "Destination Understanding" so much, we ripped it from our region 1 DVD at the time and uploaded it. If you fancy a listen you can by clicking here. Go on, you know you want to.
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Island of Death (1975)
31st Mar 11
A chain of appalling atrocities unfold on a picturesque Greek island. Much like Mamma Mia.
Here’s a notorious movie from one man Greek exploitation movie factory Nico Mastorakis. It is as over-extended as it is irredeemable, but remains, in the uncut version at least, a compelling wallow in wall-to-wall unpleasantness. Until recently heavily censored in the UK (largely for its sexual violence against women), the movie is one of a decreasing few to remain notorious and shocking three decades on. In this PC-fixated climate, you have to give at least some plaudits to a film whose overall attitude is succinctly summed up by the line of dialogue “the best way for the dirty lesbian to die was by fire” (and if that line doesn’t offend the PC brigade, what follows in the scene most surely will). Of course, this specific line is indefensible: everyone knows the best way for dirty lesbians to die is by a spiked broom handle.
A God-fearing weirdo with mother issues (Bob Behling) and his nice perky blonde English “girlfriend” (Jane Ryall) are enjoying a holiday on a small Greek island. They have frisky sex in a phone booth in a sequence that probably inspired an almost identically shot one in Tarantino’s script for True Romance. Something about them, however, just isn’t right. Ten minutes in, Behling wakes up horny, finds his girl not in the mood, so he goes outside, shags a baby goat and stabs it to death. We’ve all done it, though it’s a relationship-tester, for sure.
Ryall probably wouldn’t be too perturbed by this act given that together the two of them are on a misguided mission to punish all folks indulging in what they view as death-deserving perversions. For starters, Ryall seduces a sleazy Frenchman and fucks him so that she and Behling can have a relationship-strengthening private crucifixion party. A shrieking, sobbing gay stereotype and his boyfriend are the next to go : “I’m God’s angel with the flaming sword sent to kill dirty worms” notes Behling as one of the hapless gays is made to fellate a gun before having his brains blown out. You see, there are light hearted moments too.
Island Of Terror is a typical 70’s exploitation movie in its fixation on vigilante-type violence, sexual humiliation and degradation, not to mention its jarring use of some godawful songs that are often as horrifying as the onscreen depravity. Technically basic, with some shaky acting (listen out for at least one fluffed line), it exists for a crudely staged act of brutality every few minutes, with gratuitous masturbation and hot nekkid lesbian lurve thrown in for good measure. One sequence in which a guy Behler chases a naked woman around a house wielding a sickle is an almost comically over the top and prurient example of the decade’s lack of restraint. The scene is crowned by a close-up shot of a blade emerging from between her bare breasts : the kind of combination of nastiness and titillation that would often feature in movies on the “video nasties” list.
It’s not nearly as interesting or cinematically proficient as, say The Last House On The Left , and it clearly (more so than most of its type in this era) wallows in the horrors it purports to be condemning, but there’s no denying that for much of its elongated running time, this is riveting viewing for Hell-bound perverts like you or I. There are off-colour, marvellously tasteless jokes : “I hope he’s got a water-proof watch”, Behling japes he and the missus hurl another victim from a hired plane. There’s stuff that is just plain repellent in a can’t-look-away fashion: Behling pisses all over an aged, grotesque whore for his bird’s pleasure…but the whore likes it too, so he kicks her and beats her to death. And, of course, there’s sexual violence, notably in a disturbing sequence in which Ryall is almost raped in a bathtub by a pair of ridiculous hippy predators.
The movie bogs down in a notably meandering, should-have-been-trimmed final act but it does deliver a suitably sour wrap-up, as both Ryall and Behling are raped by the same grinning buffoon, an equally depraved member of society who farts in Behling’s face for good measure. Thrown in as one final, sick twist is the revelation that the couple are, in fact, brother and sister. What a wonderful world! Be sure to get the uncut Arrow Films disc of this movie, watch it with a loved one… and then take a shit on his or her face immediately after just to complete the evening.
Versions Recently released by Arrow Films through the Cult Labs label in the UK, completely uncut.
Special Features include:
-Brand new audio commentary with director Nico Mastorakis and author and critic Calum Waddell
-Q&A with director Nico Mastorakis
-interview with Nico Mastorakis
-The Music of Island of Death; 2010 re-recording of “Destination Understanding” from “Island of Death”
-double-sided fold-out poster
-collector’s booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by critic David Hayles
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