The Film (4/5)
In the first few weeks of EuroCultAV.com's existence a package came from Severin Films containing a film called the Sinful Dwarf. The Sinful Dwarf was the heartwarming story of a dwarven (I may have made that up) boy, and his Mother who kidnapped young women, got them addicted to heroin, and chained them up in their attic for use in a prostitution ring. It was the type of sleazy film that was in the same grand tradition of films like Bloodsucking Freaks that makes viewers want to take a shower and wash the grime off afterwards.
I had heard of Island of Death for years prior to seeing the film, as it was on the notorious Video Nasties list, but assumed it was nothing more than a violent slasher type film. Upon viewing the new, gorgeous Arrow restoration I would be quick to discover the film would easily fit the pantheon of sleaze classics such as as those mentioned above. According to an interview with the director Nico Mastorakis he had seen the Texas Chainsaw Massacre upon it's Greek release, and watched it's great success in the country, and wanted to duplicate it. In order to do that he came up with Island of Death.
The interesting thing with this story is that while Island of Death features death and violence, the film is not remotely scary, or played for horror. Rather, Island of Death could easily have been called Vacation of Sleaze, and the title would have been more accurate. The story follows a British couple Christopher and Celia (who are actually a brother/sister), who go to the Greek Island of Mykonos. The reason being is that the island is home to 300 churches, so they theorize that if they kill the islands sinners and more underhanded residents that the pious citizens of the island will not notice or care.
As the film opens the couple is on the run for murders that Christopher committed in England prior to leaving, a police investigator wants to track them down, and has tapped Christopher’s Mothers phone knowing he should eventually call her. Well, he does, and audibly has sex with Celia while the police track the call as the Mother listens on disgusted. This is just the beginning of the cavalcade of violence and perversions that the film has in store for viewers including goat sex, water sports, an attack by blowtorch and more.
Normally, a film as sleazy as Island of Death looks the part. A sleaze film is usually an underlit, grimy, grainy affair. Island of Death on the other hand is a stunningly gorgeous film, and the Blu-ray from Arrow Video for the most part brings that out. The Blu-ray has wonderful colors, flesh tones, fine detail There is some damage from the source, throughout the early portions of the film. However, in the final third of the film there is some fluctuations in the way colors are handled, and this is quite noticeable.
The audio is presented in a quite reasonable LPCM 1.0 track in English with optional subs. The track is decent with dialogue and score coming through decently, though occasionally the audio would get hot, and distorted.
Arrow Video puts together a splendid extras package for their Blu-ray of Island of Death. The Blu-ray contains an interview with the director Nico Mastorakis. We also get a documentary overview of his career. This is followed by the director showing off the locations from the film. There is a wonderful 39 minute interview with author Stephen Thrower about the film. There are trailers for this film, and other films by the director. Isolated music tracks for the films soundtrack, a booklet with liner notes, and MORE.
Island of Death is a bonafide sleazy classic. The A/V restoration from Arrow Video is fantastic, the extras are elaborate and interesting, and the Blu-ray for Island of Death comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.