Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Island of Death (1975)

Country: GREECE

Devils in Mykonos
Island of Perversion
Killing Daylight

This loathsome piece of exploitation garbage has steadily gained a cult reputation for being one of the most notorious films banned as a video nasty. The BBFC’s refusal to grant the film a certificate in anything other than a heavily cut form has aided its steady climb as one of the UK’s most forbidden films. The sheer exaggerated nature of the narrative, which includes almost every perverse act known to man, makes it a rather unique experience even to this day - and for 1975 would have been extremely shocking. Many of the films that found themselves the subject of state subjugation in the early 1980’s were shoddily made and very amateurish and should have been banned for the bad acting and tedium more than anything else. However there were an exclusive handful that at least looked good, and Island of Death is one of them. Nico Mastorakis is pretty much a one man show here - he directed, wrote, produced, and photographed the film, working with a very low budget, and in some cases non-professional actors (the two hippy rapists for example were tourists holidaying on the Greek island of Mykonos). Content aside one must have a grudging admiration for Mastorakis, who was only concerned with making a commercial movie (no aspirations for art here - despite what cult fans might think) and by and large this is a highly competent visual experience. On occasion the cinematography is very good and captures the simplistic beauty of the island and its community.

The plot (such as it is) revolves around a holidaying British couple - Christopher (Bob Behling) and Celia (Jane Ryall), as they enjoy a spot of Greek hospitality on the island of Mykonos. Unfortunately they don’t return the hospitality and instead commence a personal crusade to rid the island of what Christopher sees as sinful perversions. Neither of these two can act, but Ryall looks good naked, and that is all that is required of her. The tone is set by an early incident in which Christopher and Celia fuck in a phone booth whilst his mother listens on the other end. What follows is an episodic structure of taboo busting exploitation. Annoyed that Celia doesn’t want to have sex one morning Christopher finds a goat tethered in the garden and proceeds to rape and kill it. Celia then lures a painter to his death - after having sex with him, she and Christopher crucify him to the concrete ground with nails and then pour paint down his throat until he expires. A gay couple come into the firing line next - the first is hacked to death with a ceremonial sword, the other has his brains blown out. An older woman is pissed on, beaten up and then decapitated with a bulldozer. A heroin addicted lesbian has her face burned off. A naked woman is killed with a sickle. A private investigator who is on their tail suffers the most bizarre fate, he is hung to death from an aeroplane in mid flight. Eventually the dim witted authorities, aided by a bearded novelist (played by Mastorakis) realise who the culprits are and try to track them down. The film ends in a remote part of the island as the couple (who turn out to be brother and sister - one extra attempt to shock that fails by this point) find themselves in the company of a simple minded shepherd. Simple minded he might be, but he knows what he likes - he firstly commits sodomy on Celia (Christopher watches and takes photos) and then he does the same to Christopher, after which he throws him in a pit of lime. Christopher slowly melts to death as the rains pour down, and that is Island of Death.

Mastorakis tries to add a level of religious symbolism to the proceedings, but this is largely lost in the strange events of the plot. Christopher is a confused hypocrite who gets enraged when he sees homosexuals and lesbians making out but is quite happy to commit bestiality and murder. Celia at least (at times) has a conscious, but rewards her shepherd rapist with a blowjob and more sex. She ignores the desperate pleas of her brother, leaving him to his fate with the perplexing statement that “God doesn’t help perverts”! The attrocities build up to such an extent that it becomes impossible to take Island of Death seriously. I wouldn’t say it becomes amusing, because the scenes of carnage are genuinely nasty, and the scene in which Christopher and Celia masturbate over the photos of their victims is particularly unsavoury. The only virtue of the film is a fairly good soundtrack (the songs aside) which like most video nasty’s employs the electronic sounds of the synthesiser to good use. There is no point to the film, other than to make money by appealing to an audiences desire to see taboos destroyed.

© Shaun Anderson 2010

1 comment:

  1. -Please, I believe in God.
    -I'm sorry friend, but he doesn't believe in you.


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