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Sunday, March 3, 2013

SCREAM FACTORY APPRECIATE MONTH: The Island (1980)

We continue with Scream Factory Appreciation month taking a look back the released titles from one of the most celebrated Blu-ray distro companies of this horror loving age. With only about a year under its belt (if that) as a "separate" entity from Shout Factory, S.F. has a loyal fan base who wants to "collect them all" as if they were trading cards. Typically these discs offer piles of extras goodies, some nice promo items such as posters or even the stray nurses hat and damn good transfers.

Today we're going to take a look at 1980's The Island starring David Warner and Michael Caine. Written by Peter Benchley... you know... that Jaws guy and directed by the fella who directed The Golden Child and Fletch (what the fuck?), The Island is a much celebrated movie among the cult loving 80's hounds, but may not necessarily get the respect it deserves. You won't find "civilians" (non horror folk) talking about it unless they see the cover and might be spurred to remember seeing it on their video stores shelves. It was not considered a financial success by any means and fell into obscurity. I myself had not had the chance to see this movie until only a few days ago when it arrived with classic cover box though I remember it fondly from the walls of Long Valley Video.

We follow Michael Caine and his son on a trip to uncover the mystery behind a slew of disappearing boats in the Caribbean. When Caine and his son are kidnapped they soon discover just who's behind the whole mess and I can assure you that it ain't the Bermuda friggin' triangle. Yo ho ho and a bottle of Cocaine... or at least a couple kilos. You'll see. Watch the movie.


Michael Caine was a busy man in the late 70's and early 80's. I was especially fond of him in Dressed to Kill but also had the pleasure of enjoying Oliver Stone's movie, The Hand. My first experience with Caine was when he played a detective trying to uncover the murder mystery of Jack the Ripper in the made for TV movie called... wait for it... Jack the Ripper. Incidentally, he was also in Jaws: The Revenge which I suppose ties him to Benchley in a wholly other way. He's an accomplished actor who's played opposite everyone from Batman to the Muppets and this is where he really starts to shine. Movies like The Island that force the viewer to confront some fairly reel truths about being a parent and maybe hopes to answer the question, "What if Peter Pan decided to be a pirate rather than the leader of the Lost Boys"?

The whole thing is beautifully executed with a great deal of intrigue and mystery with more than one shock and plot twist to tickle spine. Having managed to avoid it for this long I refused to watch trailers or even read synopses or the back of the box for that matter. Sometimes it's best to leave yourself with cover art and an idea. The hand with the skull and cross bones tattooed on the back wielding a knife is brutal and honest. The twists were surprising to me and it seemed to end in what might be described as a Benchley type of way. It is not immediately obvious or predictable though maybe you've seen enough movies that try to piggyback on The Island's cinematic efforts.


While not necessarily a horror movie, it's a thriller. If you have kids or can at least let yourself identify with the Caine's character you might find yourself grasping for the edge of your seat rather than half reclined soaked in Pop Secret faux butter. The Blu-ray/DVD combo doesn't have much in the way of special features, but the quality of the transfer appears to be excellent and all seems to be in order. Original cover art has been preserved for this release and not the shady UK release DVD cover art either. What a mess that was. WIth this release you get a healthy dose of the quality that Scream Factory has consistently given us, however I might say that for the price of these releases we might get a few added features and not simply reserve the "loaded discs" on major releases i.e. Halloween II and III.


You can pick it up at DiabolkDVD HERE (supporting the little guy is important). Also make sure to "like" Scream Factory over on FaceBook and follow their releases. You can also stop by their website HERE to peruse more titles and get acquainted with their product line and upcoming releases of which there are many. Save your pennies. Start a swear jar. Start a masturbation jar.

-Dr. TERROR

PS I love you: Angela Punch McGregor. You can have the part of my heart that will always want to be a pirate in some capacity. Always. Nice shirt. Fuck Peter Pan and his tights and his fairy that I don't dare believe in.

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