Friday, October 22, 2010

Halloween Havoc: ISLAND OF BLOOD (1982)

“Hurt me, hurt me, hurt me
  face to face, face to face.”

-VIDEO JUNKIE HQ, Aurora, Illinois circa 1999

Coming down with a serious case of withdrawal after seeing BATS and THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH in the theater, anonymous addicts TS and WW are looking for anything to cure the pain of modern Hollywood films. Diving into TS’s extensive inventory, they discover a film called ISLAND OF BLOOD.  “This has to rock” they both surmise from the cover featuring an island in the shape of a face.  Or is it a face in the shape of an island?  Regardless, they throw it in and it rocks alright thanks to the film’s odd gimmick (more on that in a bit).

The film centers on the slim premise of a group of actors and filmmakers converging on an isolated island to rehearse for film.  Participants include BJ, the bimbo female lead, and her two punk rocker assistants, Jim (Rick Dean) and Phil; cynical guitar strumming Taylor (his only lyric is “there’s a hole in the sky”); leg cast sporting Lyn; dancer Donna; requisite stud Rick; nerdy John; and producer Steve Faith and director Franklin Phlem (really).  The producer wants to make something “very positive” that shows the youth “what is right with the world.”  In other words, he wants to lose all of his money.  Along for the journey is cantankerous Bert, the boat captain and chef.  You want bitter?  This guy has got it, you punk!  “I don’t like nothing about your generation” he blurts out to some of the actors.  When asked what they did wrong, he says “so far, just showing up.” And, yes, this is the guy in charge of making their food.

Anyway, before you can scream Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (aka TEN LITTLE INDIANS), the victims start getting picked off one-by-one.  First to go is Phil, who is boiled to death in the swimming pool.  The production must go on though and Bert commits the faux paus of serving up boiled lobster for dinner.  Or maybe he is sadist?  Or is he the killer having fun? During the night, loner Taylor is speared on top of the house.  The next day, Bert opts to sail back to the mainland to get the authorities.  One the beach he gets sad and says he is reminded of the only thing he ever loved in his life.  The director asks how long he was married and Bert blurts out “I’m talking about my dog!”  Ha!  Well, I guess that love is rekindled sooner than he thought as his boat explodes en route to getting help.  Trapped on the island until the main crew arrives in a couple of days, the group decides to make the best of it while trying to figure our the killer in their midst.

Donna is the next to go thanks to a battery acid shower.  Oddly enough, no one in the house hears her loud screams. The power then goes out and BJ and the lecherous director (not to be confused with BJ AND THE BEAR) decide the best course of action is to rehearse the love scene.  Bad news as the director gets a machete from under the bed into his guts. Amazingly, no one has the bright idea to look under the bed to see who the killer is.  Everyone freaks out and starts getting killed now.  Jim and Rick are involved in an extended chase and all signs point to Jim being the killer.  In perhaps the films most graphic bit, Rick gets both his arms lopped off with a chainsaw. John the nerd is then decapitated and hobbled Lyn popped in the forehead with a nail gun (both off screen).  Final girl BJ is then chased around by Jim and when he finally catches her, he says “I know why you’ve been killing people.  It’s for the insurance.”  What?  So Jim ain’t our man.  Damn, you crafty filmmakers!  Steve the producer shows up in the nick of time to shoot Jim in the back with the nailgun and Jim throws a knife into the producer’s chest.

The next day the cops are there (how they got notified of this we never know) and find a mini-tape recorder with Jim confessing on it. That’s good enough for them.  Case closed.  The film then cuts to BJ and producer Steve hanging out in his fancy house.  “Sorry about your film” she tells him.  Uh, yeah.  But what she doesn’t know is shady Steve Faith got his film alright.  See, he gets an important phone call in his “I told you never to come down here” room and informs the person on the other end he has the best snuff films he could imagine.  Yes, seems our producer was lying to us about wanting to make a positive picture and Jim’s confession was actually an audition.  Now who exactly filmed them and where they hid is up to you.  Anyway, BJ shows him by blowing him…away with a shotgun (been waiting for that BJ joke, right?).  Whattatwist!

This is pretty standard slasher stuff.  I’m not sure what it is about this flick, but I dig the hell out of it.  Maybe it is the early 80s aesthetic? Or maybe it is the isolated island location (always a winner for me)? Or the fact I saw BATS around the same time?  Ah, who the hell am I kidding?  I know why I love it: it is the song gimmick that the killer uses. During each of the deaths, the killer inexplicably has a tape recorder blasting the way the person will die.  So the boiled guy gets the Ramones-esque band going “boil me, boil me, boil me, face to face, face to face” and the stabbed person gets “stab me, stab me, stab me, face to face, face to face.”  How genius is that?  This officially makes the killer the Mozart of murder (or the most anal retentive slasher in film history).  I’d love to see Jason try to “compose” his murders like this.  And did the killer have a back up plan in case he didn’t catch anyone in the prescribed method?  You know, like a b-side just in case his plans don’t work out?  That is what makes this film so special and there is no doubt you will be humming the song over and over afterward.  Is this a good film?  No.  Did I enjoy it for its 82 minute running time?  Hell yes!  If you don’t like it, you can sue me, sue me, sue, face to face, face to face.

UK poster which is better than the movie

Aussie VHS cover

1 Reactions:

  1. The tape I have of this is by Vestron under the "Whodunit?" title, although the Island of Blood cover is way cooler than the Vestron cover (which is just a bloody hand print).


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