• Island Of Death

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: 3/21/2011
    Director: Nico Mastorakis
    Cast: Robert Behling, Jane Lyle, Jessica Dublin, Nikos Tsachiridis
    Year: 1977

    The Movie:

    Written and directed by Nico Mastorakis, 1977’s Island Of Death earned itself a bit of a reputation during England’s ‘Video Nasties’ craze and has gone down in cult cinema history as a bit of a lightning rod for controversy.

    The film follows a tourist couple played by Christopher (Bob Behling) and Celia (Jane Ryall) who travel to the small island of Mykanos where they get into all manner of perverse mischief. When we meet them they’re screwing like rabbits in a phone booth – we then learn that they’re brother and sister. They wander the island and punish those they see fornicating, but hypocrisy rears its ugly head when Christopher has sex with a goat when Celia refused to put out for him. At any rate, they travel around doing wrong to anyone they see as a pervert – be they gay, lesbian, or just simply black or hippy – though eventually their family back in England wonder what they’ve gotten up to and hire a private detective to track the pair down. As they kill their way across the island, a lowly shepherd (Nikos Tsachiridis) comes into play and may prove to be their undoing.

    Made fast and cheap with an emphasis on sex and violence, Mastorakis’ picture is a pretty sleazy one, though it also manages to work in some nice travelogue footage that shows off the beautiful locations where all of this horrific content plays out, creating a nice bit of contrast. Mastorakis cast the leads with established actors but used English speaking locals to fill in the blanks, so there’s an air of awkwardness to the whole film that mixes with the perversion and bloodshed in an almost surreal way. The movie sounds far more sensational than it really is, however. While it’s certainly true that, yes, there is a good bit of sex and violence here, much of it plays out quite humorously and while it may have seemed like a film capable of wreaking havoc with the moral fabric of society a few decades ago, it now seems rather amusing.

    Mastorakis (who also shot and edited the picture himself) does manage to create some interesting atmosphere throughout the picture and it’s interesting how the movie asks us to question the morality of the different characters that populate it. As sleazy and depraved as it all is, the film is relentlessly entertaining.


    NOTE: This review is based off of a single test disc that may not represent finished product and which obviously does not reflect whatever packaging/inserts may be included with finished product.

    The 1.33.1 fullframe open matte presentation on this test disc, reported to have been taken from the negative, is a pretty decent one. Print damage is kept to a minimum and there are no problems with compression artifacts or major edge enhancement. Skin tones look reasonably accurate and while black levels aren’t reference quality, more often than not they too look just fine.

    The English language Dolby Digital Mono sound mix on the disc is also fine. The bizarre score has a good volume to it and the dialogue is generally clean and clear if a bit on the flat side now and again.

    Extras kick off with an audio commentary from director Nico Mastorakis in which he talks about where he came up with some of the ideas for this film, why he chose the cast members he chose, and of course, the controversy that surrounded the film, some of which still carries a stigma around it to this day. The director admits the success of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre influenced him to make this picture, and that he basically came up with a laundry list of perversions and atrocities to work his storyline around. Mastorakis also appears in a seventeen minute video Q&A session and a separate twenty-five minute interview where he gives further details on the circumstances surrounding this oddball film.

    Rounding out the extras are the film’s original trailer, the seven minute ‘Music Of Island Of Death’ featurette that appeared on the old Image DVD release, some bizarre 2010 re-recordings of the song Destination Understanding used in the film (five different bands offer up five different interpretations of the song!), menus and chapter stops.

    The Final Word:

    As is always the case with an unfinished test disc, it’s impossible to really give a true recommendation but all signs point to this release as a pretty solid one. The film holds up and if it’s not quite as shocking as its reputation might have you believe, it still packs a sleazy punch and Arrow’s presentation appears to be a pretty decent one.

    Comments 5 Comments
    1. Ian Miller's Avatar
      Ian Miller -
      More sleaze fans need to see this, I'm glad I found the Image disc without laying out too much (there was a new one at the downtown Borders forever, but the disc was loose in the case. Eventually found one at Everyday Music), but the Arrow looks to be great for those that don't.
    1. John Gargo's Avatar
      John Gargo -
      I suppose as a Greek this is a must buy for me.
    1. Ian Miller's Avatar
      Ian Miller -
      ESPECIALLY as a Greek!
    1. Goldberg's Avatar
      Goldberg -
      Doing it 'greek style', no less
    1. Ian Miller's Avatar
      Ian Miller -
      Poor goat! The goat in THE SEDUCERS/TOP SENSATION fares much better.