1982 was a fantastic year for horror fans. The sci-fi/horror fans got the clasc John Carpenter remake of The Thing, and monster movie fans got such cult clascs as Great White, The Beast Within, and Basket Case. However, the part I love most about the year was the tidal wave of great slashers. Slumber Party Massacre, Madman, Superstition, The Slayer, and Friday the 13th Part III were all great, but there were a few stinkers, like House of Death and Honeymoon Horror. However, there was another movie released, which is what I will be reviewing today. Is it worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as The Slayer and Madman? We shall find out, as we discuss Scared Alive, AKA Whodunit, AKA...
Island of Blood 1982 Review
A group of first-time actors and actresses gather at a remote island to rehearse for their big movie. The producer explains he wants to make an "up-up" picture, showing kids what's right with the world when they're being surrounded by films that make the world look like a sewer. So anyway, as they begin rehearsals, they also begin getting killed off one by one by a murderer patterning his kills after a catchy sadomasochistic song. Can they figure out who dunnit before they're all boiled, chopped, sawed, nailed, etc.?
Island of Blood, which is also popularly known as Whodunit on VHS and in Europe, is a bit of a mess. The editing is really bad, with scenes that kind of end abruptly and muc that starts playing and gets cut off when the scene changes, with no smooth trantions between the shots. The movie itself ends rather abruptly, and while I won't spoil it, I think there should have been some sort of extra image or clip just to close with. The acting was decent all around, but there was one hilarious moment of underacting when the director of the movie within this movie, Franklin Phlegm, is having sex with an actress named BJ (snicker all you want, but she's the final girl) and he makes sounds like ooooohhh and aaaaaahhh to show how much fun he's having.
Of course, my worst complaint with this movie is that it's really dark in most scenes, which makes it hard to tell what's going on. This is unfortunate, as a majority of the film takes place at night, so it's troubling to see the fantastic gore on display. A clasc example of this is when Rick bites the dust via chainsaw, and while you can see his arms flying off and the chainsaw sawing his butt, the rest is hard to make out. I hope that someday someone will release a DVD of this movie with cleaned up picture, so I can experience the film in all it's glory. Humongous had a milar problem, and now I can see what's going on thanks to Scorpion Releang's great DVD! Hopefully, Island of Blood will share a milar fate.
That was all the negative stuff. Let's get into the potives. Most of the kills in this movie are fantastic and gory, including death by nail gun, chainsaw, spear gun, battery acid, and more. Like I said, a lot of the grue is hard to see
due to the darkness of the VHS, which is really terrible nce what little I did see was great. The song itself is really catchy, and those who dislike it will have a tough time watching the movie, nce it plays repeatedly throughout. However, most of the deaths later on are offscreen, so I think the director forgot to pay the effects guy (in an interview with one of the cast members, he said the director neglected to pay nearly everyone involved in the making).
There's also a great death scene where the killer rigs the shower with battery acid, so when Donna decides to clean off, she gets burned really badly, and it looks really gruesome. There's also another moment of unbelievability when the killer breaks the thermometer on the swimming pool and makes the water boiling hot. He then pushes a fellow named Phil into the pool, and once again, it's a great effect. The acting was alright, especially condering this is a low-budget slasher which was most likely made to cash in on the success of Friday the 13th. The end twist was really original and tied up most of the loose ends. The characters are all entertaining, and there's some great dialogue that kept me entertained in between the kills. Most of that great dialogue comes from the cantankerous caretaker Bert, who spurts such kind words as, "I'm not going to mess with a bunch of food-picky drug freaks!" and when these young adults ask what they did wrong, he replies, "So far, just showing up." No, he does not survive.
The Island of Blood VHS has become a rarity of sorts on the internet, and the price range goes from $40-$70. Interestingly enough, the Whodunit veron of the tape can be found online from $4 to $25. I don't know if the price difference is because most people don't know that they're both the same film, or if the Island of Blood VHS is just harder to find. Either way, this film is certainly worth checking out no matter what veron is available. While it's technically a bad film, I still find it to be one helluva good time. The endless supply of quotable dialogue from the characters, the gruesome deaths, the killer's gimmick (the song, which is "Face to Face" by Factor Four), the reveal of the murderer, and the fast-pace all make this one of the best unknown slashers around and one of the biggest surprises I've gotten all year. The film seems to divide slasher fans into two groups: those that despise it for all the technical problems, and those that love it for the gore-ious cheese fest that it is. I happily belong to the latter group, and I'm proud about it. In fact, TBC Features posted the full movie on YouTube, so you can check it out below:
The Verdict: Despite several flaws, Island of Blood is still a wonderful foray into the slasher subgenre, filled with spectacular deaths and endlessly quotable dialogue.
Don't trust my judgment? Here's four other opinions:
A Slash Above