The Legend of "Island" Continues

A cause célèbre of
the video nasty age

starburst magazine

Film censorship in England is a study in changing tastes and morals, and a litmus test of political correctness. Sparking a moral panic in the eighties, when horror movies were making killers of our kids, the ‘video nasty’ list soon became the go-to guide for the discerning gore fan. Nico Mastorakis’ infamous Greek exploitation flick Island of Death has had an especially fraught history with the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification).

Like Mastorakis himself has said, the story behind a film is often more interesting than the movie itself.

Director Mastorakis, who was a major player in Greek TV, became inspired to make Island of Death after noticing the financial success of Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Given the film’s gritty nastiness and hazy intensity, it’s logical to assume that upping the violence and perversity would rake in more cash, and that’s just what Mastorakis did. The proto- slasher was not only one of the earliest attempts to mimic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but one of the principal titles in Greek exploitation cinema, and certainly the most successful.

After listing the most depraved sexual acts he could conceive, Mastorakis wrote the script in a week. The $35,000 budgetwas so low that he even had to take on therole of the novelist because the originalactor wanted more than the budget allowed.

Mastorakis has often gone on record to say that there was no artistic intention behind Island of Death and that it was a labour of financial lust, to afford him a prosperous filmmaking career. To that end, his feature debut was a roaring success; the controversial screen matter ensured its place on the video nasty list, courting notoriety and cementing its place in the cinematic pantheon.