It’s time for #TrashOrTerrorTuesday
…when I examine a film that’s been languishing in my personal library to determine if it is #Trash or #Terror
– or more importantly, if it deserves to stay in my collection.
And so, out from the dusty shelves of #VHS tapes & DVDs comes…
Zombie Island Massacre (1984) by #JohnCarter
Music by #HarryManfredini
Tourists watch a voodoo ritual then find themselves stranded & under attack by unseen foes. One by one they meet violent ends.
“HAVE A FUN-FILLED VACATION!…”
Zombie Island Massacre (1984) rated poorly in all my horror review books. For some reason, I bought a VHS copy anyway – and I liked it. Or rather, I liked it well enough to put the tape in my permanent collection. I watched it a couple of times over the years, when I was working on a zombie project of some sort (like my play The Inner City Dead for instance) and was in need of inspiration.
The truth is, however, that Zombie Island Massacre (1984) isn’t actually much of a zombie film. In spite of that fact, I always chose to hang onto the tape. Now it’s been quite a few years since I worked on a zombie project – or watched the movie – so I decided to put it to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test.
A bunch of tourists take a boat to a strange Caribbean island, and then a bus to remote location where they watch an actual voodoo ritual. In fact, they watch a corpse being turned into a zombie. Later, their bus driver vanishes and their bus refuses to start. They have to try to walk to safety, while seemingly being attacked by zombies, or some other unseen foe.
I don’t like spoilers, so I’ll stop right there. Suffice it to say that a zombie apocalypse never quite occurs. In some ways, Zombie Island Massacre has more in common with a slasher film than a zombie film – but even that isn’t quite the right label for it.
So what’s the verdict?
I actually like Zombie Island Massacre. It feels like a made for TV movie of the 1970s, or maybe an episode of The Love Boat (1977-1987) gone very wrong. Several couples on a romantic vacation (at least part of which is on a boat), actors that seem like they could be guest stars on an old ensemble show, and a plot that actually moves along and goes somewhere – it feels more like TV than, say, an Italian zombie movie.
Having said that, Zombie Island Massacre does feature a descent amount of nudity, most of which is care of Rita Jenrette, who was a Playboy playmate. She was also married to a U.S. Congressman, and was involved in some sort of sex scandal. So, she was a person of interest when producers cast her in this movie – and she gave them a darn good performance, too. Incidentally, she once appeared on Fantasy Island (1977-1984), which was kind of like the companion show of The Love Boat.
There is some violence in Zombie Island Massacre, and people do die. There are even some beheadings, but it’s all fairly tame compared to the average Fulci or Romero film.
Still, I like the TV movie feel – and I used to watch The Love Boat and Fantasy Island every Saturday night – so I enjoy spending 90 odd minutes at this non-zombie Zombie Island Massacre. I would say it’s a mild to moderate Terror (for some actual suspense and shocks). I would also say it is mildly but pleasantly Trash-y (for providing some quality gratuitous nudity, and a bit of gore). It currently only rates a 3.1 on the IMDb, but I would rate it at least a 5.3.
It’s no trashterpiece, but it’s a more than acceptable time passer on a rainy afternoon, and I will be keeping the VHS tape on my shelf…