Plot: A group of tourists have indulged in a luxurious Caribbean vacation, one they expect to be filled with sun, fun, and exotic experiences. The folks seem more intent on exploring sexual destinations than the tropical beaches, but on island visit, they decide to take in some local culture. A ceremony promises a taste of the forbidden, a voodoo ritual carried out by native practitioners. But the experience proves to be too dark and violent for some, as the ritual involves blood and sacrifice, not to mention perhaps a genuine connection to the supernatural. When the tourists wind up stranded after their bus breaks down and their guide seems to vanish, little do they know a masked maniac lurks in the tropical paradise around them. Soon the mysterious killer begins to prey upon the tourists, but is this murderous rampage the work of voodoo or just another crazed lunatic on the loose?
Entertainment Value: Zombie Island Massacre won’t likely go down as a zombie classic, but it has some bright spots and thanks to a solid first half or so, is able to squeak out a recommendation. The narrative is one that is often used in the horror realm, with some unfortunate travelers taken off course into a murderous vacation, but there’s a reason that concept is used so much. Even if there are no surprises or big twists here, the story is fine and does what it needs to do, I just wish it was more wild and over the top. The instances where things start to dial up are when Zombie Island Massacre is the most fun, but sadly, those moments are uncommon here. As I said, the first half was a better ride for the most part, with some light sleaze and general goofiness, while the second half tends to slow down a little too much. That is odd, since the second half has such a focus on the horror side of the narrative, but for some reason, the ramp up works better than the road to the finale here. The cast is about what you’d expect, not great performances, but they’re energetic in most scenes. I think if the characters were more colorful and the cast ran with the camp more, perhaps Zombie Island Massacre would be more fun and hold more cult classic appeal. Still, there is some fun here and if you like low rent horror with some solid cheese, Zombie Island Massacre likely has enough appeal to hook you in for a spin.
This one serves up some naked flesh, including a full on shower scene mere seconds after the opening credits conclude. So Zombie Island Massacre gets right to business, though the sleaze does slow down from there. The movie delivers a few topless scenes and some awkward, humorous sex scenes however, so it does put a couple points on the board. You’ll find some bloodshed as well, though nothing too graphic or brutal, just some low tech, high fun practical effects. A highlight for me was an outlandishly fake rubber head mounted on a stake. The head couldn’t pass muster to be sold in dollar stores as a Halloween decoration, so it adds a great laugh when it appears. You can also find numerous splashy gunshot wounds, a machete facial, weaponized bamboo, and yes, some elderly strangling. The dialogue isn’t all that memorable, as the lines aren’t wild or outrageous and the performances are wooden, but not wacky or colorful enough to really stand out. But we do have some religious gibberish and the neckerchief guy is fun to watch. As for craziness, Zombie Island Massacre has some bright spots, but doesn’t punch up the madness like it could have. You can enjoy a botanical zombie, a sink lizard, quid pro quo, and some reggae music, however.
The Disc: Vinegar Syndrome serves up Zombie Island Massacre in a brand new 2k restoration, sourced right from the original camera negative. I’ve never seen an even passable version of this movie on home video, so to call this release a revelation would be an understatement. Being able to watch the film in the proper aspect ratio and given such a skilled clean up makes all the difference in the world, giving us a lush, crystal clear treatment. Vinegar Syndrome has dished up some fantastic transfers for movies that have been mishandled on home video and that trend continues here, another knockout edition here. As for the supplements, we have a sizzle reel, tv spots, and the film’s trailer.
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