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Island Of The Living Dead (2006)

DVD Cover (Intervision Picture Corp.)
Movie Connections:
Island Of The Living Dead
> Island Of The Living Dead (2006)
> Zombies: The Beginning (2007)
Director:
Bruno Mattei Bruno Mattei
Starring:
Yvette Yzon Yvette Yzon
Gaetano Russo Gaetano Russo
Alvin Anson Alvin Anson
Ydalia Suarez Ydalia Suarez
Jim Gaines Jim Gaines

4.3 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Horror, Supernatural Horror, Zombie Film
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Review by Chad
Added: June 20, 2011
Bruno Mattei was never a great director, but he did manage to pump out some entertaining films - not necessarily "good" films, but entertaining ones nonetheless. He was a man who wasn't afraid to borrow ideas from other, better films and see what he could do with them, and he also wasn't afraid to stick to the genres that he knew would sell: namely, zombie flicks, cannibal movies, sci-fi ripoffs, and softcore. He stepped away from the zombie genre for almost twenty years though, and just before he died, he came back to it with Island of the Living Dead and its sequel Zombies: The Beginning. These were the last two movies that he made before passing, and I really wanted to give this one a positive review. I wanted to say that he finally made a zombie classic and that his last works were amazing, but I can't do that. I haven't watched the sequel as of this writing, but this one fits in nicely with the rest of his filmography in that it is cheesy, convoluted, and not very good.

The story finds a gang of treasure-hunters out on the open sea, attempting to bring a treasure chest up from the bottom of the ocean. They fail and lose everything, and the gang - Sharon (Yvette Yzon), Fred (Alvin Anson), Kirk (Gaetano Russo), Victoria (Ydalia Suarez), Snoopy (Jim Gaines), Tao (Miguel Franco), and Max (Thomas Wallwort) - settle in for a night of drinking to calm their nerves. This is when a mysterious fog rolls in and causes the ship's engines to malfunction, and when the fog clears, they are floating next to a seemingly-deserted island that isn't on any of their maps. They leave the ship's mechanic behind to work on the ship and set out to explore the island, and there, they find that the island has been deserted since the days of the Spaniards back in the 1600s. They also discover that the island is crawling with the living dead, and there are even a fair number of supernatural elements to be found. Heavens to Betsy!

Alright, the first twenty minutes or so are pretty good. We get introduced to the characters, we see this creepy island with some great Spaniard relics and torture devices, we see a couple of zombies done up with pretty good makeup, and we even see a head explosion or two. This is what a zombie movie is all about, folks, and I was settling in for a classic. Then, I realized that the movie had shot its load right there, and that there was nothing more for it to give... but it still had an hour to go before the credits would roll.

You see, instead of throwing in some nifty plot devices or even going with the tried and true "humans barricade themselves up and try to survive", the next thirty minutes or so is content to just repeat what we've already seen. The humans will look around for something of use on the island, a pack of zombies will show up to chase them off, nobody will die, few if any zombies will be killed, and repeat as needed. I could see using this trick a couple of times to bump up the tension and deliver a few scares, and I also realize that you can't kill off your entire cast right at the beginning of the movie, but c'mon: if you're going to use this trick half a dozen times in back-to-back succession, you need to come up with something new after the first two times.

It gets even sillier towards the end of the film when the supernatural elements come into play. There's a "head" zombie whose minions do as he commands, there are ghosts (including one who sits down and has a glass of wine with one of the heroes), paintings come to life as zombies, and there is even a vampire zombie to be found. I'm not against mixing in the supernatural with zombies, but it gets a bit silly here - scratch that, it gets very silly and very fast. Mattei was never a man you could accuse of making a "scary" horror flick, but this was too much even by his standards.

Just to cheapen the deal even further, viewers have two options when watching the film: they can watch it dubbed in English, or they can watch it dubbed in German. As far as I can tell, you can not pick it up with its original language and read the subtitles, but this wouldn't be so bad if the dubbing wasn't so horrible. The actors didn't seem to be seasoned veterans by any means, but the dubbing transforms what could have been "acceptable by horror standards" acting into "holy shit, were they trying to film a comedy?"

The only positives are the zombies themselves, the little bit of gore that is there, and the set pieces. The makeup used for the zombies is pretty good in most instances, while the gore is also fairly decent even though there's not a whole lot of it. I also enjoyed the Spaniards gimmick, as it brought a lot of neat imagery to the table - old books, candles, torture devices, wine casks, outfits, swords, the whole nine yards. It looks great on the screen, but it's just a little sad that there wasn't much to compliment it.

Overall, this is about average by Bruno Mattei standards. I know that I didn't have a whole lot of good things to say about it in this review, but that's sort of par for the course with his work: it'd be unfair to go in expecting anything more, and even though I didn't love it, the man has his fans and they will likely enjoy this one more than I did. Personally, I'm going with a 4/10 rating.
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