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Isle of the Damned (2008)

Isle of the Damned


Isle of the Damned is a tribute to and parody of the 1970s and early 1980s Italian cannibal films by guys like Ruggero Deodato (Cannibal Holocaust and Jungle Holocaust), Umberto Lenzi (The Man from the Deep River, Eaten Alive, Make Them Die Slowly), and maybe even Joe D'Amato with his attempt at the cannibal genre: Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals.  These cannibal films were famous for being banned in countries around the world for their unbelievably graphic violence, exploitation and general shock.  Often, unrelated scenes of animal violence were thrown into the films just to add more eye-popping gore and that's probably one of the few elements that would prevent more of these old cannibal films from being created today.  By today's standards, the old cannibal films aren't as shocking as they would have been at the time.  There may still be somewhat shocking just because the violence and gore looked much more realistic back then and less over the top than in today's slasher films.  Still, looking back on them now the old cannibal films value lies in the feelings of nostalgia that they offer and the glimpse into a window of what was considered extreme in 1981 rather than anything truly shocking.

Because of our current perspective on the cannibal film genre, it totally makes sense that someone could theoretically put together a parody cannibal film and make it work.  However, I can't imagine that anyone with enough money to do it right would ever be interested in making a parody of a cannibal film.  That would just be insane.  I can't picture David Zucker and Leslie Nielsen running around the jungle impaling people on spears and ripping the living flesh of tortured treasure hunters from the city...well, actually, I can picture that, but I don't see it happening. Fortunately, writer Mark Leake and director Mark Colegrove along with their crazy misfit friends have more talent and time than money and they're just insane enough to think that a cannibal parody would be funny.  I don't know how the hell these guys were able to convince all of the people involved that making this movie would be a good idea, but here it is: Isle of the Damned!

The acting is bad, but they know it's bad and it works because of it.  The awful mustaches, cheap wigs, fake overdubs into English and cheap toy props all help to give the film the flavor of a Troma movie.  Surprisingly, the musical score is fucking unbelievably good.  It almost sounds like music right out of a low budget 70s film.  In addition to the music, some other elements of the film are surprisingly similar to the classics as well.  The DVD menu looks just like a cannibal re-release on DVD.  The random animal footage all look like they could have come straight out of a 1981.  The story works just as well as any of the films they are parodying.  The editing and pacing are actually pretty damn good.  Most importantly, there's plenty of gore!  The gore looks good and they throw in just as much as you would find in any of the classic cannibal films.  They silly up some of the common cannibal movie themes while adding even sillier themes just to make sure you know you're watching a parody.  There are a lot of homosexual exploitation scenes which is something that you wouldn't usually find in a cannibal movie, but it does make for some great one liners such as, "I've got a real think cock and you know it might not fit up in your boy pussy." Still, there probably should have been more female nudity and female exploitation.  That's really the only place where they missed the mark on paying homage to the old masters.  There are some inconsistencies that come from being a no-budget film (small things like one of the characters wearing a M.A.S.K. T-shirt from the late 1980s when the film was supposed to have been shot earlier). Other than that, I'd say Isle of the Damned works really well.  If you're a fan of old cannibal films and enjoy no-budget parody, you should definitely check out this movie!  Isle of the Damned will be screening in micro-cinemas and theatres before the official DVD release, so check out their website for screenings near you:


Gore-o-meter rating: 5 out of 5
(Not as much gore as the original Cannibal flicks, but lots of gore)

Skin-o-meter: 1 out of 5 (Some cannibal boobs, but overall not much skin)