Clearly, however, I'm not alone in this! As I've entered into discussions about Island of Death (Originally titled Ta Pedhia tou dhiavolou when released... in GREECE), I've invariably cracked up and asked other people to say the words "Greek Horror Movie" to see if they could say it without laughing. They couldn't either. Maybe it's because those are three words not often heard or read together, or maybe this is some Arthurian-era spell put together by Morgan Le Faye or Merlin that automatically triggers the laugh mechanism, perhaps chosen due to the fact that their use in a single sentence was far beyond unlikely.
Okay... you try it... Greek... Horror... Movie.
Now try not to think those words at a Funeral.
The content of Island of Death, however, is not funny. Quite a few of the films on the Video Nasty List are "so bad they're funny". Island of Death isn't one of them. In fact, it's quite disturbing and repulsive in many calculated ways. Writer/ Director Nico Mastorakis (who is Greek) most certainly was familiar with the "art" of Exploitation, because many aspects of Island of Death come off like the results of a brainstorm on how many varied elements one can think of to shock, disturb and repulse.
Here, you take a look (at this... Greek Horror Movie). A vacationing couple (Bob Behling's Christopher and Jane Lyle's Celia) take in all the beauty and glamour of the Greek Island they're touring. They seem normal enough (with the exception of Celia being abnormally hot) and aside from the occasional cross word about a fellow traveler or two, they do seem to be mixing with the locals quite well, are invited to parties and are developing friendships.
Then, one morning when Celia doesn't feel like having Sex, Christopher walks outside, grabs a young Goat and rapes it, then slits its throat on camera while it's bleating and babbling. While that alone sounds disturbing, my one-line recap can't truly delve into the true nastiness of this sequence, which goes on for a good while accompanied only by the screams of the kid. Needless to say, the couple isn't as normal as they first seemed. Needless to say, there is a large group of you reading this that are not the target audience of this film.
The real agenda of Celia and Christopher soon comes to light as they take their first (human) victim. Basically they want to kill all kinds of people and have rationalized this (it would seem) by pushing the theory that they are Scourges of the Lord, killing those who go against Christ.
What Nico's intention with this film is doesn't readily present itself. Is this a metaphor for Christian Hypocrisy, or part of an overall commentary on "immorality"? Or is this just a Greek Horror Film from a director hoping to get butts in those grindhouse seats by any Exploitative means necessary? Regardless, just how sick and hypocritical the disgusting duo really are is a moving target.
For one thing, they apparently hate gay people, in spite of the fact that the gay couple on the island seem to be perfectly charming (though also caricatured and stereotypical). So they kill them both in humiliating ways. That's darned rude. However, another guy they hate for hitting on Celia, so she has sex with him while Christopher films the whole thing and then they kill him. Okay, then. Aside from the fact that I'm sure he died happy, how much of a moral stain does that put on you two, then?
Moving on. When the creep-tastic couple decide to punish the local Lesbian (they have Lesbians on Greek Islands? Wow!) appropriately named "Leslie" (Jannice McConnell) they go about this in a rather interesting way. Namely, Celia gets naked and has explicit sex with her while Christopher films it. I like that scene... but let's re-analyze here. So they're punishing her for being a Lesbian... by having Lesbian sex with her. Okay, nice. I should be punished for liking Oral Sex.
Surprisingly, Christopher also gets into the act, even when the objects of his affection are higher on the food chain than that poor goat (I hate Christopher, man!). At one point he decides to have sex with Jessica Dublin's Patricia, not because he wants to seduce and kill her, but simply because he wants to have sex with her while Celia films it. Moral Crusader, this guy.
And, of course, there is the ubiquitous cop chasing them named Foster (Gerard Gonalons) and the ubiquitous one guy who is even worse than they are in the form of a local lunatic Shepherd (Nikos Tsachiridis).
It's probable that Mastorakis intended this to be some sort of indictment on the high and mighty moral majority who have more skeletons in their closet than any of us "normal" people do. Sure it's an extreme example of metaphorical re-representation, but, hey, it's Social Satire, right?
Well, if so, crap job, Nico, crap job! What was actually created here was a prime and somewhat early example of horror porn. The soft-core porn scenes are (usually) pretty fantastic, especially those featuring Jane Lyle. These, especially the one in which Lyle spends some time with McConnell, are the only reasons to bother with this film... because it sure isn't for the Moral Commentary! When "The Little Death" is most often followed by the real thing, it's rather hard to enjoy the heat, but when even the acts themselves start including human excretory functions, I promise you, heat isn't what's on my mind.
This film has had, does have and will have its fans for all those damned B-Movie sensibilities and Exploitation Shocks. But is there anybody who would truly call this a "good movie"? With the exception of the death scenes which, admittedly, took a little demented creativity from a disturbed mind, the rest of the film is largely uninspired with the "plot" working solely to lace together varied sight gags and graphic slaughter sequences. I mean, seriously, naming the Lesbian character "Leslie"? Come the fuck on? Why not just call her Lezzie or Dykey, if you're going to be that tacky? I mean, I know this was over 30 years ago but can we get a little less sensitive here, please? Why not name the Gay guy "Flamey" or just "Bruce"? ShitFIRE, The Passion of the Christ's depiction of King Herod Antipas was more respectful to orientation than the depiction of the gay male couple here. It gets to the point that just about the mildest nasty thing they say is the time they refer to Officer Foster as the N-Word.
And it goes on like that, from Christopher's attack on a nude woman SHOWERING WITH THE DOOR OPEN WHERE EVERYONE CAN SEE to the filming of a rape scene because they didn't want to miss the shot and are clearly just that desensitized. Yeah, it's quite clear that Writer/ Director Nico Mastorakis had social satire and metaphorical criticism on his mind. It's also clear that it comes across almost as well as the Atari 2600's E.T. game. From the almost complete lack of logic and congruity to the non-sequitur ending featuring a revenge aspect that is less a twist than a joke... it just doesn't cut the Mustard Gas. This makes Island of Death, the Greek Horror Movie, a complete and total DOG! I'm not even offended on a moral level, I just feel like my intelligence has been insulted by some Greek Horror Movie.
This is another one that could use a good re-edit. Edit out all the death, bestiality and degrading elements and leave in all the sex. Actually just cut out everything that doesn't feature Celia. Yeah... Folks, I'm getting started on that. In fact, how about one long, drawn out movie featuring only the hottest parts of the Video Nasties with none of the crap-tacular elements. Yeah! Of course that would mean that we would have nothing from Antropophagus or Absurd! See you in the next reel.
Greek... Horror... Movie!
I can't promise to sleep with you first,
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