= Highest Rating
title. Crappy movie.
Why the hell would anyone make a film called
and not bother to put any zombies in it? (Well, perhaps I'm
not being 100% accurate. There is one zombie on hand,
but he's not a "real" one — just a performer in a voodoo show
put on for tourists. In my book that doesn't count.) Needless
to say the title automatically conjures images of a Fulci-like
exercise in guts and ghouls in a tropical setting, which is
probably exactly why the producers called it what they did.
Getting suckers to part with their money at the box-office or
video rental counter was apparently the only consideration.
Creating an even halfway decent horror-exploitation flick was
not very high on the agenda.
Zombie Island Massacre
opens with "international superstar" Rita Jenrette*
— that's how she's billed in the hilarious trailer —
taking care of her obligatory nude scene. A man wearing a sinister-looking
tribal mask surprises her in the shower, frightening her. (The
director is careful not to show us Jenrette's ass for some reason.)
It's really just her boyfriend, of course, so they tumble into
bed for some minor groping. Later, as part of a group of American
tourists vacationing in the Caribbean, they travel to the island
of St. Marie to witness a nighttime reenactment of a voodoo
ceremony. The group is shaken by the realism of the show when
a baby goat is apparently sacrificed. Pleading discomfort, a
young newlywed couple sneaks off into the jungle for a little
hanky panky but are brutally killed, Jason-style, by an unseen
assailant. When the performance ends and the tourists return
to their bus, they discover the driver missing and splashes
of what looks like blood. Making matters worse, the bus has
been sabotaged by the removal of the distributor cap. So what
do these folks do? They get on the bus and wait. (They're not
waiting for the missing newlyweds, either. They've forgotten
all about them.)
After awhile, these idiots finally get off
their butts and try hiking up the road to a nearby villa. During
the trek they start being picked off one by one by an unseen
killer or killers. (The stoner couple falls into a spiked tiger
pit.) The survivors reach the deserted villa and wait inside,
where they discover a library of books on cannibalism. (Which
has absolutely nothing to do with the plot, by the way.) The
phone, naturally, doesn't work. Right about now is when you'd
expect some Night of the Living Dead-type
zombies-attack-the-house action. But it just ain't gonna happen.
Instead of zombies we get a needlessly convoluted
plot about Colombian drug dealers, hit men and a suitcase stuffed
with $5 Million in cash. One of the tourists is carrying it
so they're all being bumped off until the money's found. Thus
Zombie Island Massacre is actually
a slasher movie, and a lousy one at that. The killings are staged
like something you'd see in Friday
the 13th, a comparison made sledgehammer blow-obvious by
the score — written by Harry Manfredini, composer for all the
Jason flicks. (With its voodoo drums and Caribbean-flavored
incidental music this must be the soundtrack for that "missing"
F13 film, Jason Takes Antigua.) The gore is mostly lame,
though, and since the characters automatically do the stupidest
thing possible, nothing is the least bit suspenseful. Some dumb
dialog and dreadful (even nonexistent) acting may spark a laugh
or two but these yuks are woefully few and far between. The
trailer is a lot better than the film could ever hope to be.
There's just no forgiving a picture called
Zombie Island Massacre that doesn't
have any damn zombies in it. No sir-ee.
Most of you are probably wondering, "Just
who the heck is Rita Jenrette?" — that international superstar
you've never heard of. She was the wife of a congressman ensnared
in the cash-for-votes "ABSCAM" scandal of 1980. She parlayed her
testimony into instant celebrity in a time well before the advent
of the 24-hour news cycle, Monica Lewinsky and The Drudge Report.
Here's how The Washington Post looked back on it:
"John and Rita Jenrette, young, social and attractive, appeared
to be a model Washington couple. But John, a congressman from
South Carolina, was implicated in the ABSCAM sting that nailed
five representatives and one senator on corruption charges."
The Jenrettes' saga is "a bizarre story
from beginning to end: Highlights include John's on-air call to
the Phil Donahue show when Rita was the guest, a country song
commemorating Rita's testimony that she found $25,000 in one of
John's shoes, and the Playboy spread on Rita that was photographed
with his consent while she and John were still 'happily' married
(but which didn't appear until after the separation). The two
are now best remembered for having sex on the steps of the U.S.
Capitol, during a break in an all-night House session."
Later she tried acting, ending her brief show biz career in dreck
like this and
Bikini Shop (1985). Nowadays she's
a wealthy Manhattan real estate broker.
Island Massacre is one of
three schlocky films offered on a "Triple B-Header"
disc from Troma Team Video, the others being the horror-comedies
Blood Hook (1986) and Blades
('89). (Troma distributed these movies but didn't produce them.)
The DVD is not a "flipper"; i.e., all three films are
located on a single side of the disc. This is achieved (so the
packaging touts) via the "miracle" technology of
digital compression. The
only real miracle here is that I actually decided to take this
thing up to the check-out counter and buy it. Bad me! Bad!
Since the disc sells for
around $18, you end up paying approximately six bucks per movie.
Not too bad, really, unless you consider that a number of $6 titles
can be found in bargain bins that boast much better A/V
quality. All three films look and sound crummy, like they were
mastered from EP-speed videotape. Trailers for Zombie
Island Massacre and three other Troma flicks are chucked
in as an extra. There is a silver lining, though... Aside from
a brief introduction by Lloyd Kaufman, there apparently wasn't
enough space left on the disc to pack it with the usual Troma