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Sunday, August 01, 2010

DVD Review: Isle of the Damned

Isle Of The Damned

USA 2008
Director: Mark Colegrove
Writers: Mark Leake
Starring: Larry Gamber, Peter Crates, Jared Books, Oliver Krekel, Jamaal Mahmud, Dustin Edwards.
DVD Released: March 31st 2009
Cert: NR
Running Time: 85 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic NTSC
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo English
Subtitles: N/A
Distributor: Dire Wit Films
Region: 1 NTSC

The Film:

" Forced to flee Italy in exile over the public outrage caused by his film, Pleasures Of The Damned, filmmaker Antonello Giallo sought refuge in the jungles of South America to complete his follow-up picture. As production neared completion on Isle Of The Damned a shipment of the work print was intercepted by Argentinean authorities. Upon review they issued an arrest warrant for Giallo under suspicions of abuse of the native peoples. Furthermore Giallo was ordered to produce the actors of the film in court to prove that they were still alive. Before the trial could begin Antonello Giallo fled the country.

The restorationists of this film are proud to bring you, for the first time ever, Antonello Giallo's original vision, uncut and remastered. "

So goes the text intro to this 2008, cheap-as-chips, shot in someone's backyard, parody of all your favourite jungle cannibal flicks of the 70's and 80's. Mildly treated with some low budget FX to make it look like a grainy lost film from 30 years ago it really doesn't. But then the actors in this flick are wearing 70's comedy moustaches and wigs ala the Beastie Boys' Sabotage video and the entire dialogue track is fake dubbed, with a deep african american voice for the main diminutive white protagonist. So I'd say realism wasn't of paramount concern to these fellas, which is fine with me because despite my usual tendency to run a mile from anything that looks this shoddy I soon found myself laughing along to the childish, foul-mouthed, over the top and sick as fuck antics on display.

The film's plot, what little of it there is, concerns private investigator Jack (Larry Gamber) and his 'ward' Billy (Peter Crates) joining a group of treasure hunters on their way to an unexplored cannibal island in search of the lost gold of Marco Polo. Pretty much as soon as they arrive at their destination the flesh-eating locals have attacked; buggering and killing (not necessarily in that order) most of the crew. Jack and Billy however are saved by a mysterious professor, Alexis (Keith Tveit Langsdorf), and his mute Japanese assassin/manservant Cain (Dustin Edwards) who apparently live in a mansion on the island. With the help of the prof and his servants, Jack sets out to rescue whatever might be left of his crew from the cannibals and perhaps locate that gold if he gets a chance.

The script hits all the relevant cues from the spaghetti cannibal genre and much of the film's enjoyment comes from spotting which particular flick is being referenced at each twisted slash and turn. The most obvious nods are to Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferox and Eaten Alive but you might also pick up homages to Doctor Butcher MD, Zombie Flesh Eaters or any number of similar classics. The gore is turned up to 11 here and mixed together with some almost John Waters inspired shit-eating and basic toilet humour that will either leave you shaking your head in wonderment or secretly thinking; I could have made this. Gut-tearing, foetus-eating, a plethora of anal rapings and even a feast involving iguana semen slathered over monkey meat - you have been warned! But for all it's sophomoric humour I still found it watchable. I guess the basic premise can begin to wear thin over 80 minutes but it all depends on your tolerance for low budget filmmaking and in this case your love of dodgy old cannibal flicks.

The Disc: 

Anamorphic transfer looks fine, keeping in mind it's been fucked about with to make it seem as though it's a lost 16mm relic, the colours are strong, picture a little soft. English 2.0 audio is clean and clear.

Extras include -

A 'fake' commentary track featuring The Insultor (aka the dubbed african/american voice of Jack) who's brought his cousin Clarence along for the ride. Obviously a piss take in itself the duo seem fairly drunk and appear to have no idea what the hell they are watching and after about 45 minutes of cannibalism and anal rape they've had enough and just leave. Don't expect any info on the production here folks!

Paul Joyce's score can be accessed as MP3 files by playing the disc on your PC. And it's a pretty good little 'spoof score' mimicing the jaunty synth-pop numbers that infested these classic uber-violent productions.

Luigi Giallo Interview - a 5 minute 'fake' interview with the son of imaginary director Antonella Giallo. A bit of a recluse and a very emotionally scarred individual due in no small part to his father apparently selling his little boy's arse in order to fund his movie. More puerile stuff here, doesn't mean it's not funny tho!

The Shameless Art Of Self Promotion - a 6 minute featurette following the Dire Wit Films crew at a New Jersey horror film convention.

Trailers for Post Modern, Pleasures Of The Damned and Isle Of The Damned.

And finally a 30 second "Message From Professor Livingstine" in which we are assured that all the cannibalism in the film is in fact genuine and we are told to "Please enjoy the film......even though it's full of real cannibalism".

Review by Giuseppe Rijitano

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