Arrow Video Vault: Island of Death (1976)

The former video nasty might well be one of the sleaziest films in European history, so of course it deserves the high-definition treatment.

Nico Mastorakis’s infamous cult orgy of violence has been released under a whole bunch of different titles over the years: Devils in Mykonos, Cruel Destination, Killing Daylight, A Craving for Lust and, most weirdly of all, Psychic Killer 2 (whatever happened to Psychic Killer 1?) but now you can actually get hold of it in its remastered entirety, and for fans of bad taste, this is pretty much the holy grail.

Opening with mad-eyed newlyweds Christopher (Bob Belling) and Celia (Jane Ryall) landing on the Greek island of Mykonos and quickly jumping into some rather sordid activities, Island of Death is about as fucked up as they come. And we’re not exactly talking A Serbian Film or Human Centipede levels of fucked-up either.

Contemporary button-pushers like Tom Six seem to dig up their visual atrocities from a very different place to the original exploitation crowd; something about them feels almost too angry. And whilst Mastorakis himself admits to only really making Island of Death for monetary reasons, being driven entirely by the thought of disgusting people, he never actually tries to disguise this fact.

It takes less than 15 minutes for a man to rape and murder a goat, and from there the whole film just spirals even further; into creative murder after creative murder; random sex scene after random scene. Storming towards a fairly painful finale that seems to just about top off the check-list of absolute horrors Mastorakis was working from all long.

In fact, Island of Death is so rammed full of perversions of pretty much every kind that it serves as very much a bible of sleaziness. If this is your thing, look no further. And whilst the photography and dubbing is fairly sub-par, cleaned up a touch by the 2K restoration job here, it’s entirely serviceable and stands as a stark reminder of why the hell stuff like this was made in the first place: shock and awe.

In terms of special features and additional content, the usual Arrow perks remain: a reversible sleeve with some neat artwork, a decent-sized booklet and a fair amount of fairly static but informative documentaries about the the film and Mastorakis himself. There’s a few nods to the extra restorative stuff Arrow did too, recreating the previously lost original opening titles, which show real care, and work as nice extra touches.

On the whole it becomes pretty clear fairly quickly why Island of Death found itself on the video nasty list to begin with. Fans of the depraved and ludicrous will have a field day, everyone else will no doubt lose their dinner/desire to live, simple as that.

Island of Death is available on Blu-ray in the UK now (and has been for a while).

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s