I’ve found the Horror/Comedy subgenre quite lacking over the past few years as most of the output has been cookie cutter Army of Darkness and Shaun of the Dead clones. In all honesty I wasn’t expecting much from Isle of the Damned, but another tired retread in the similar vein thankfully that wasn’t the case.
Isle of the Damned is a breath of fresh air to the subgenre and easily the best film of its type since Bad Taste and Body Melt. Mark Leake’s script is a well-crafted homage to the notorious Italian cannibal flicks of the early ‘80s that is a hilarious ride filled with twisted humour, splatter and un-PC imagery.
The controversy and folklore of Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust is well known and still a widely debated topic. Upon its premiere Deodato was arrested on obscenity charges and the film was seized. Rumours also surfaced that Deodato had made a snuff film killing some of the onscreen actors for real. Deodato was later cleared of the charges and Cannibal Holocaust was banned in several countries. Isle of the Damned creates a similar folklore stating that when it was originally released in Italy in 1980 director Antonello Giallo ran into similar trouble as Deodato for the realistic depictions of cannibalism, depravity and gore. The film was banned in 492 countries and in an interview with a relative of Giallo in the extras, even states that the script was so extreme that Deodato refused to direct it!
Isle of the Damned revolves around Jack Steele (Larry Gamber) and his quest for Marco Polo’s lost treasure. Their search brings them to a remote island overrun with the Yamma Yamma cannibal tribe where Steele and his crew experience the usual gory clichés of the genre. You know the deal; flesh eating, wildlife stock footage (the masturbating primates were a highlight) sleazy/greed crazed characters taking advantage of the savages and the underlying social commentary about civilized society all handled in a satirical tongue in cheek fashion.
Plenty of over the top splatter including face peelings, brain eating, bad dubbing and the compulsory genital trauma. Patrican Rosa pulls off a great performance as the total scumbag Harold Thompson who pays dearly for his actions in a scene that’ll have you laughing your ass off.
This film is a must see for fans of Back of the Y (it reminded me a lot of Cunstables and Vaseline Warriors) and Peter Jackson’s early work. Crude, gory as fuck Isle of the Damned kills anything the major studios pawn off on us as comedy. Can’t recommend this one enough and I’m looking forward to seeing more flicks from Dire Wit Films.
- Luigi Giallo Interview
- The Shameless Art of Self Promotion
- A Message from Prof. Livingstine
- MP3s of Kobold’s original score
- Commentary from “The Insultor”