ISLAND OF THE DEAD appears to be a made-for-cable or TV movie, shot in Canada. You can tell because the screen fades to black every 15 minutes or so for the commercial break.
This is a very low budget affair, making for a very low-key horror film. It’s supposedly set on New York City’s Hart’s Island (where the city runs a potter’s field for burying the impoverished or unidentified dead), but NYC can’t be seen over the horizon as the ferry crosses the water. Just an insert shot of Manhattan at film’s start to set the location.
Then there’s the shot where Talisa Soto (who plays a cop) walks down Manhattan, glass skyscrapers behind her. She looks across at a ghetto-like street with boarded-up buildings. Obviously not shot on the same location. Editing those two shots together was truly unconvincing.
Story concerns evil rich man Malcolm McDowell (playing a casino owner/developer named "The Rupert"—as in, "The Donald" Trump), who is building a low-income community on the island—with sinister motives. He arrives on Hart’s Island with an entourage and these evil flies attack. But they do so after most of the entourage has left, so there are very few actors on this island to attack. Just The Rupert and a handful of cops and prisoners burying the dead on potter’s field.
Here’s some sloppy story-telling: seems the flies only want to kill The Rupert, because when he dies, they stop. Talisa Soto marvels that the flies were after him. But then ... why did the flies kill several other people earlier in the film, and ignore The Rupert?
Anyway, the flies’ bite is deadly, causing you to puff up in a disgusting manner before you die. Not a real gory film, but there is some creepy atmosphere. It actually helps that the low budget only allowed for a few actors. The location is nice—a deserted island with abandoned buildings and grave markers. And the gray Canadian sky helps—very much like in THE X-FILES. It’s obviously not New York, but it makes for a decent horror film. Not great, but decent.
I disagree with the reviewer who said Talisa Soto looks old. She looks quite young, still. However, she looks awfully thin. Her face is so tight and thin, it’s almost skull-like. I’d heard a story from a film industry friend that on the set of VAMPIRILLA, Soto was so thin, they had trouble keeping her costume from slipping off.
Somebody get this girl a milkshake and fries, fast!
The DVD is remarkably crappy, in that there is NO MENU. No special features, not even a scene selection. You pop in the DVD and go straight to the movie. Really, how hard is it to create a menu, with maybe some cast notes and scene selection?
Without even a menu, this DVD should be selling at the bargin bin price of $1.99—$3.99 max.
The DVD is full screen, but as this is likely a TV movie, that’s likely the original screen format.
About Island of the Dead (2000)
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Richard Jutras, Andy Bradshaw, Paul Hopkins, Tyrone Benskin, Michel Perron, Daniel Pilon, Talisa Soto, Bruce Ramsay, Kent McQuaid, Steffen Wink, Mike Tsar, Philip Le Maistre, Robert Daviau, Yasiin Bey, Mos Def
Director: Tim Southam
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