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On their quest to find the sunken treasure of the Natividad, a group of
treasure hunters reach an uncharted island - and soon find themselves at
the mercy of zombies, zombies who like nothing better than to kill and eat
them. Turns out the castle on the island has been a secret breeding place
for black magic some 400 years ago, and has eventually been overrun by
zombies. And with our treasure hunters soon enough losing their boat in an
explosion, guess whom the zombies intend to eat next?
On the plus side
of course, our heroes find the treasure of the Natividad, but that only
leads to more complications because now their mind is clouded by the gold
and makes it more difficult for them to make up an escape plan. It takes
our treasure hunters quite a bit to decide to build a raft and try and
make it off the island, and in the meantime they are killed off one by
one, until only Sharon (Yvette Yzon) and Kirk (Gaetano Russo) are left
alive, but while Sharon does her best to blow the place to kingdom comes
before their escape, Kirk starts to act weird, and eventually it turns out
he has already been taken over by the zombies. Sharon manages to fight him
off though and make it off the island only just.
Later, Sharon's raft is
found on the open sea, but she's already dead (don't ask why), only to
return as a zombie ...
To a degree, Island of the Living
Dead is a perfect throwback to Italian zombie movies from the early
1980's, it's weak on story, excessive in gore, most of its cast are just
cannonfodder, and the whole thing is predictable as hell - especially
Lucio Fulci's Zombie Flesh Eaters
readily comes to mind (though there are also hints of the Blind
Dead-films and a hommage to Night
of the Living Dead's graveyard scene). But while Island of the
Living Dead is strongly reminiscent of these films of old, I would not
exactly call it an hommage film, for this it lacks any and all insight
into the genre, any reflectiveness. Actually, Island of the Living Dead
is nothing more than just another zombie flick, differing surprisingly
little from the films of the early 1980's (of which director Bruno Mattei
has made some), and featuring some especially silly scenes, like a
flamenco dancing zombie, a zombie having a nice quiet chat with one of our
treasure hunters, or a zombie hiding in a treasure chest amidst tons of
gold coins. Well, at least Bruno Mattei has assembled one of the better
casts he has ever worked with, and Yvette Yzon, almost a regular in his
later films, makes a solid lead.
In all, if you're into zombies, you'll
probably not hate this film, but you'll probably not love it, either.