Isle of the Damned recognizes and pays tribute to the best of the cannibal films. I don’t think it would be too careless to say that Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox are easily the best Italian cannibal films to ever appear from the sub-genre and Mark Colegrove gives appropriate tribute to these old school low budget masterpieces. With the cannibal film, one can expect rape, torture, ritual killing, real animal killings, deranged anthropologists and awful post-production dubbing. In Isle of the Damned, Mark Colegrove brings back all these lovely things for future generations of horror fans. To be fair, Isle of the Damned does not feature any real animal killings which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Instead, the film features a very cute and fake looking spider which is stepped on resulting in an exaggerated amount of arachnid guts flying everywhere.
Isle of the Damned also features gore, bodily dismemberment, and “savage cruelty” that easily beats the best of the Italian cannibal films. One of the most memorable scenes features a cannibal cutting off a sizable flaccid penis and shoving the member of the now castrated man up his daughter's gash. I guess the cannibals believe that if “civilized” folks aren’t going to practice incest then they are going to be forced into it. Also, unlike the cannibals featured in earlier Italian cannibal films, those featured in Isle of the Damned enjoy playing butt darts. Overall, the cannibals in this splendid film have much more character than those featured in the Italian cannibal films. In fact, they even are more discriminate in who they eat. One lardo and criminally minded pedophile is rejected by the cannibals and is instead ass reamed by a gang of homosexual savages. I couldn’t help but think of John Boorman’s American outdoor classic Deliverance while watching this scene of a man being porked like a pig.
Although private investigator Jack Steele is the main character of Isle of the Damned, his adopted son Billy is my favorite character of the film. Director Mark Colegrove did a ridiculously hilarious job voicing the traumatized young man’s overly neurotic voice. Poor Billy was the victim of a fatherly fuckfest which drove him to homicide. Unlike most cannibal films, Isle of the Damned features various subplots and flashbacks that do not waste a second of footage in the film. The film features a colorful and distinct cast of characters that I had no problem getting into.
I consider myself to be a fairly discriminating cinemaphile, but Isle of the Damned really leaves nothing to be desired. Maybe big budget degenerate “postmodern” filmmakers Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer(Date Movie, Epic Movie, and Meet the Spartans) should take notes from low budget parody filmmaker Mark Colegrove. Unlike Friedberg and Seltzer, who make me want to put a bullet in my head with their cinematic abominations, Mark Colegrove’s Isle of the Damned put me in a humored state from beginning to end. But then again, Colegrove is a filmmaker that seems to care about the comedic quality of his films whereas Friedberg and Seltzer are catering to the lowest common denominator.
Isle of the Damned is a mandatory viewing for cannibal fans, horror fans, parody fans, and individuals that hate cultural anthropology. With Isle of the Damned, Mark Colegrove beats to death the token moral message “we are the real savages (civilized folk)” featured in Cannibal Holocaust and other cannibal classics. That being said, Isle of the Damned is the greatest tribute one could have created for the Italian exploitation cannibal film. Mark Colegrave knows his stuff and did his research. The least an eclectic fan of cinema can do is watch his film Isle of the Damned. Not to mention, Ty E makes an appearance in the film as a cannibal.
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