A funny thing happened on the way to me disliking Island of Death, director Nico Mastorakis’ 1975 horror film headed to Blu-Ray/DVD courtesy Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group. That would be I ended up liking the film a lot more than I thought. This is in part thanks to the great special features that include interviews with Mastorakis that show he’s just a genial, creative guy with a long and varied career who’s not at all like any of the vile characters in the nasty and brutal film he made very early in his career. I’d heard about how terrible and shocking the film was and I certainly wasn’t disappointed by the assorted scenes of murder, extremely stereotypical characters and loads of exploitative nudity on display. Yes, the film is a hard to watch experience not for the squeamish or easily offended. But it’s beautifully shot nastiness and at the end of the day, Mastorakis did exactly what he set out to do – make a film that out grossed (and out-grossed) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
There’s nothing here even remotely close in plot or even tone to Tobe Hooper’s seminal shocker. IoD’s story about a pair of unbalanced British lovers killing their way through the island of Mykonos before getting their just desserts is merely a showcase for depravity that’s since been outclassed by more modern horror flicks with far more realistic effects. The director even makes this point in one of the commentaries on the Blu-Ray and it’s easy to toss off a bunch of titles from the top of my head that do indeed go for the gusto and blow this film out of the water. That said, by 1975 standards the catalog of perversions on display here certainly got this film in trouble all over the world. Bestiality, murders by an ingested bucket of paint post crucifixion, a phallic pistol, beheading by bulldozer and more are all on display. As terrifically terrible as these crimes are, some viewers may be more upset that one of the murderers is a hypocrite religious zealot out to cleanse the island of evil in the name of religion.