The so called ‘Video Nasties’ was certainly a time of history, controversy and hype. Video stores were hungry for any video they could get their hands on, even if it meant not knowing anything about the film. Censorship was weak and once in order, over two hundred horror films were taken off the shelves through police raids and all these videos became incinerated, increasing curiosity for the public to see what the fuss was about. Popular films like Last House on the Left, I Spit on Your Grave and Cannibal Ferox are to name but a few. They all received modern remakes as there is some merit in these films. However, Island of Death, does not carry the strong reputation like its predecessors. Although it’s intriguing to watch one of the most underrated video nasties and still carries a strong cult status.
The synopsis above may seem quite humdrum, but this is because it is just the basic plot of the film, hiding some of its controversial nature. The characters of Christopher and Celia are probably what we would class as serial killers based on what we see in movies these days, they are the ones who tend to take part in the wickedness that so disgusts them, documenting them by taking pictures of their seductions and murders. This provides them with evidence of why they must murder the unclean godless victims that they readily discover. The director and writer of Island of the Death Nico Mastorakis doesn’t hold back on what the two lovers participate in, and this is where the film gets its Video Nasty status.
Island of Death is heavily influenced by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and director Mastorakis wanted to create the most disturbing and perverted film ever, though he may not have managed to achieve that he did create something that is still shocking to this day. Now in its uncut form, we are fortunate to see what Christopher does with the goat, or more rather unfortunate events. What happens to him at the end of the film and all the other controversial actions that he and Celia partake in is shocking and hypocritical. It still manages to get a reaction even if the impact is somewhat dulled compared to some more modern films. I.E A Serbian Film and The Human Centipede 2. Mastorakis defends himself on the extra features interview stating; “The goat was fine and I promise it never got hurt. I’m sure it played in the fields for a very long time.”
As a controversial film with a history as a Video Nasty there is a certain aptitude to Island of Death, especially if you like your horror at extreme levels. A true highlight for the film is the soundtrack which is strangely light-hearted and folky, much like Last House on the Left and actually features lyrics that relate to what we see on-screen. Fans of horror soundtracks will enjoy this.
Island of Death may not be the greatest of movies, but it has its place in the history of extreme cinema due to it being banned for many years. With a nice selection of documentaries and interviews on not only the film but also director Nico Mastorakis, this is an Arrow Video release that is better than the film itself. For people who want to own, or even just finally see Island of Death in its uncut form then this is the perfect way to see it. One aspect that can be agreed on with Mastorakis is, “this film must never be shown to children. But who do the government think they are to stop you from watching something and taking away your freedom of choice?” It’s a good point, it is your choice to watch it, only on the condition you know what to expect: Perversion, masochism and extreme brutality.