Still feels remarkably ‘fresh’ !





A film now most widely known by a title which was never intended to be associated with it (at least until its UK VHS release from AVI in 1982), Nico Mastoraki’s Island of Death was originally released in UK cinemas as A Craving for Lust, on a double bill with Omiros Efstratiadis’ Her Naked Flesh (Diamantia sto gymno sou soma/Diamonds on Her Naked Flesh, made in 1972). (The title Island of Death was also an alternate title for the UK VHS release of Narcisco Ibanez Serrador’s ¿Quien puede matar a un niño?/Who Can Kill a Child?, 1975, with which Mastorakis’ film shares both its narrative’s escalation of unconscionable violence and a focus on English protagonists holidaying on a Mediterranean island.) Because of its catalogue of depravities (a suggested act of bestiality, a scene in which one of the protagonists urinates over an elderly seductress), and possibly because of its hyperbolic and satirical approach to the concept of self-appointed ‘moral guardians’, Mastorakis’ film became one of the more notorious and enduring entries on the Director of Public Prosecutions’ list of ‘video nasties’: films which were, if tried in court, likely to be found ‘obscene’ under the definition laid out in the Obscene Publications Act.

Island of Death was the second film in the prolific career of its writer-producer-director, Nico Mastorakis, who was inspired to make the picture after the commercial success of Tobe Hooper’s independent horror film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). Whilst there are few (if any) narrative similarities between Hooper’s film and Island of Death, Mastorakis deduced from the success of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre that the secret to making a commercially successful first feature was to produce a picture that was shocking, and to this end Mastorakis tried to cram as many exploitative elements into Island of Death as possible. Mastorakis admits, in the interview contained on this disc (and ported over from the 2002 Allstar Pictures DVD release), that he doesn’t like this type of film, and that he wouldn’t let his own (adult) children watch it; but the picture, he says, was constructed to make money and has acquired a strong cult following that Mastorakis embraces.


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..Can you tell me about the casting of the late Bob Belling? He tragically committed suicide a few years ago. Did you ever keep in touch with him?


 Bob was well known in the industry in Greece, both as a model and an actor. He was a sweet, loveable guy, who worked non-stop without uttering a single word of protest, complaint or criticism. The rumour about his suicide, which I mentioned in an interview for the DVD release many years ago, was false and I’m sorry that I didn’t investigate enough before I made it public. Bob left Greece and had a career in the States, where he died (unknown causes to me) some years ago.


Jane Lyle was a model prior to appearing in the film. How did you end up casting her?


 I needed an innocent, angelic creature to portray, in full contrast, a deranged killer. And I didn’t have to look further, when she stepped into my office for her audition. Jane too was also a delight to have on the set. Her kindness, modesty and sense of humor saved the day too many times...