“The Island of Death”
This review is for the Blu-ray released 25th May 2015 from Arrow Video
Synopsis – via Arrow Video
“Welcome to Mykonos, the holiday destination of choice for sun, sea and slaughter! From cult director Nico Mastorakis, 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”.
Goat sex, goat killing, lesbian sex, lesbian murder, blowtorch murder, rape: just some of the reasons the conservative UK censors decided that Nico Mastorakis’ horror/sex film “Island of Death” wasn’t really what they wanted the good folks of Britain to be watching back in the day. Unlike many of the other so-called ‘video nasties’ from that time, “Island of Death” is actually pretty light on the gore front, but it’s the amoral motivations of the couple Christopher and Celia (Bob Belling and Jane Ryall) and particularly the treatment of women that clearly troubled the censor at the time and there are moments that still continue to shock. Politically incorrect is an apt description of “Island of Death”, but most horrors have been accused of that in their time. “I Spit On Your Grave” and “Straw Dogs” fell foul of the censors primarily because of the rape scenes. “Cannibal Holocaust” was considered a no go on a number of levels, as was the film that inspired Mastorakis: “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, which he saw and (realising the huge profit that Tobe Hooper’s now classic had made for such a low budget) decided to try the same.
As an exploitation piece, you can see why “Island of Death” has gained such a cult following and fans won’t be disappointed by Arrow’s release. For a low budget, forty year-old film, this fully uncut 2K restoration looks pretty darn impressive. In the booklet notes, Arrow list extensive comments regarding the restoration, including the fact that Reel 5 of the original negative was heavily damaged whilst still in its can, and that there are “regular occurrences of density fluctuation, flicker, and discolouration as well as noticeable dirt, debris and scratches. There are also a few points during this reel where frames had been lost due to this damage, and we have inserted these frames from a previous SD transfer to make these sections complete”. Arrow had done a great job dealing with this kind of damage to the original and the overall viewing of the film wasn’t particularly affected for this reviewer.
As you’d expect with an Arrow release, the special features are extensive and illuminating and add to a package that should be popular with fans of the film who have waited a long time to see Mastorakis’ challenging, sometimes amusing, but unforgettable exploitation classic finally arrive fully uncut.
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 presentations
Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
Optional English 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
This review originally appeared on The Horror Asylum