Coming to Blu-Ray/DVD combo from Arrow Video on May 26th is Nico Mastorakis’s notorious film ‘Island of Death.’
The following is a message from the good citizens at the Mykonos Board of Tourism:
“Opa! Welcome to Mykonos! Our island is home to some of the most beautiful, picturesque scenery in all of Greece. Be sure to snap a bunch of pictures! Visit some of our open air markets featuring locally caught fresh fish daily. Visit one of our many beaches and swim in the crystal clear waters of the Aegean Sea. Stay in one of our many resorts that offer seclusion in case you are hiding from the police. See our many religious attractions and while you are there, crucify a painter, you won’t regret it. Our local wildlife is very accommodating as well. Please ask about our goat special. Yes, Mykonos is a Greek paradise.”
Island of Death is a travelogue of atrocities with scenes so strong that the British Government was once compelled to ban it as a “video nasty.” Arriving on the idyllic Greek island, Christopher and Celia appear to be every inch the perfect, handsome young couple. Little do the welcoming locals realize that they are in fact a pair of murderous degenerates, determined to spread their own particular brand of perversion across the island. DIY crucifixions, opportunistic bestiality, sexual peeing and murder by all conceivable forms ensue – including death by makeshift blowtorch, samurai sword, dump truck and more! Shocking, brutal and totally politically incorrect in its outlook, Island of Death is a grueling cinematic experience devised by director Mastorakis to out-do the excesses of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, which he was hugely inspired by. Now fully uncut and newly-restored from the original negative, fans can enjoy Island of Death in all its sleazy, lurid glory.
Island of Death is perfectly at home on the Video Nasty List. For the uninformed, the Video Nasty list was a list of 72 films that were deemed too violent or immoral for public consumption in the United Kingdom and were heavily censored and outright banned making vintage copies coveted among VHS collectors and adding a bit of legend to each film. It seems ridiculous now, but back then police were conducting raids on video stores and homes to seize the profane property.
This is a film I’d heard about for a long time, but haven’t seen until now, and honestly, I was not terribly impressed. ‘Island of Death’ was made strictly as an excuse to outdo the violence in ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre,’ which it does in spades, but where ‘TCM’ succeeded in terrifying viewers, building believable characters and having a great story that has been loved for decades, ‘Island of Death’ failed, as it is purely about the sleaze and crazy acts of violence. I probably built it up too much in my mind, which is easy to do when a film gains notoriety for being banned, but also, had it been shot a little differently, it could’ve been more effective. The breathtaking scenery and folky music provides a needed palette cleansing between all the violence and sex. There were a lot of sequences shot with super wide angle lenses, which added a surreal quality to the actors and landscape, especially during the dream and final sequences.
Despite all of the film’s shortcomings, Arrow still releases a pretty great product. The picture and sound quality are excellent, and the special features offer much insight into the production of the film, as there are 2 featurettes with Nico Mastorakis, one new and one archive, which I found fascinating.
Even though I didn’t particularly care for the film itself, I highly recommend the Arrow Video release of ‘Island of Death’ based on its being listed one of the Video Nasties. All fans of horror should strive to see the entire list of the Video Nasties, even if it is just to see what all the fuss was about. Pre-order here.
- Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative, approved by writer-director-producer Nico Mastorakis
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
- Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Exploring Island of Death – film historian Stephen Thrower on the making of a cult classic
- Return to Island of Death – Mastorakis returns to the original Mykonos locations
- Archive interview with Mastorakis
- Alternative opening titles
- Island Sounds – five original tracks from the Island of Death soundtrack
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- The Films of Nico Mastorakis – four-part documentary charting the director’s filmmaking career [Blu-ray only]
- Nico Mastorakis Trailer Reel [Blu-ray only]
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
- Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by academic and film historian Johnny Walker