DVD REVIEW: ZOMBIE ISLE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: ROBERT ELKINS / SCREENPLAY: ROBERT ELKINS / STARRING: KYLE BILLETER, DEWEY COLLINS, APRYL CROWELL, CATHERINE GOODSEN / RELEASE DATE: TBC
Make no mistake; Zombie Isle is a truly terrible movie. Director/writer Elkins has clearly set out to make a good, old-fashioned Grindhouse movie. Zombie Isle is all poor quality, scratchy film stock, shambolic direction, and downright lousy acting. It’s disturbingly poor. Yet in some ways, the shonkiness is its strength and it’s a film which draws you in and embraces you; you’ll want to stick around just to find out how much worse it can get.
We’re in the 1970s (if only) and a group of college students and their Professor head off to an isolated island to study the local flora and fauna. The island may well be isolated, but it certainly ain’t uninhabited; before long, the students are being picked off and torn apart one by one by monstrous zombies reanimated by a loopy Nazi scientist bent on creating an undead army of super-soldiers. Zombie Isle is not based on true events.
There’s not much to recommend here. If Elkins’ intention was to homage Grindhouse classics of his youth then he’s gone a bit too far and made a film which is too grungy, too amateurish and just generally too messy. The acting’s laughable, the script appears to be completely improvised (some of the girls students seem to just squeal incessantly) and most of the dialogue is either indistinct or undecipherable. But we have the sneaking suspicion we’re not missing any Tarantino-esque wordplay here amongst the grunts, groans and mumblings.The zombies are of the ever-popular shuffling variety and there’s plenty of the dismemberment and organ-devouring typical of the zombie genre, so easily-pleased gorehounds will be in their element. But as an added bonus we get a peculiar three-headed zombie who wanders around the forest looking completely ridiculous and magnificently unterrifying. Running to nearly 100 minutes, Zombie Isle is far too long and it ultimately becomes boring when the novelty of marveling at its ineptitude wears off. Falling face-first into the ‘so bad it’s good’ category, Zombie Isle is jaw-droppingly entertaining, and it’s highly likely that more seasoned Grindhouse aficionados will appreciate its enthusiastic rawness, rather more than those of us to whom it’s simply something of a grind.