Savage Island (1985)
To be honest I thought this type of exploitation filmmaking went out with low budget specialist Jerry Warren or maybe even Roger Corman. By that I mean the days when either of these producers would buy the rights from some foreign horror flick or the like, recut it and add in some shots of Lon Chaney Jr. or Basil Rathbone. They never fooled anyone but the titles and movie posters have become quite collectible. Face of the Screaming Werewolf and Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet being a couple of prime examples.
Which brings us to this Linda Blair title. With just a little voice over narration and a pair of scenes filmed to bookend the violence, depravities and full frontal nudity of Savage Island, Miss Blair is featured prominently on the DVD covers and U.S. posters to lure all of us unsuspecting VHS dinosaurs from yesteryear to press play on our players.
It took me all of five minutes to realize I was watching what I thought was a two for one deal. Caught off guard I truly had no idea going in that director Nicholas Beardsley had cobbled not one film but two women in prison movies from the past to use as the centerpiece to Linda’s revenge minded babe in a fur coat sporting an UZI. The films are from director Edoardo Mulargia and starred leading man Anthony Steffen alongside Ajita Wilson and Cristina Lay as a pair of long suffering inmates. For the record their original titles are Hotel Paradise and Escape From Hell.
After a quick opening showing some jungle tortures and the harm a snake can do to a screaming actress the film goes from grainy to glossy when Linda waltzes into a high rise sporting that late night hooker get up. No doubt she means business after gunning down the night watchmen and in record time busts into General Burkhalter’s penthouse suite. Excuse me, I meant to say actor Leon Askin’s penthouse suite. I’ve never quite gotten over his portrayal of the General on Hogan’s Heroes.
Turns out that he’s a dealer in emeralds who gets his gemstones from Savage Island. An island where Linda once spent time or had some friends who did or something like that. She’s come for her pound of flesh and maybe some emeralds to go with it. And so begins the flashback to that grainy footage that I suppose producer Charles Band purchased from overseas.
Let’s keep it simple. Steffen and a group of mercenaries are on their way through the jungles of Savage Island to steal the emeralds that the barely clothed women are digging up for Askin’s organization. It’s hard labor for these gals and the punishments are cruel and sadistic. Rape and torture among them. Steffen and his pals will arrive as if they’re military replacements and they’ve brought along Miss Lay to work from the inside out as an inmate. Not an easy job on her part as she’ll be abused no differently then the rest of these gals.
Hey isn’t this an exploitation feature? Then it’s time to call it a day in the mud and swamps and round all the gals up for their full frontal communal showers in the make shift outdoor setup. And I’ve seen enough women in prison flicks to wonder aloud, “where the hell is Pam Grier?” Apparently the showers weren’t good enough because Miss Lay decides to take a skinny dip shortly afterwards in the nearest cesspool one might call a pond. This actress and the others are way tougher than me cause I wouldn’t set one inch of bare skin into the ponds and waterholes these gals trudged through.
Yeah Steffen and his boys are thinking maybe these gals are being mistreated and there’s a revolution in the air when Lay and Miss Wilson begin to plot and fight back against the guards. Both male and female. Where the hell is Linda Blair in these flashbacks? Oh wait, she’s narrating again. I forgot.
Well that’s enough about Savage Island, let’s get back to General Burkhalter and Linda Blair. Looks like she’s still got the mink coat on so I’m beginning to think that poster is a crock of … well, you know what I mean.
Apparently Linda’s scenes were shot in one day so I guess that means the General’s were as well. Dare I say she owed someone a favor? Or was the money just to good to pass on? Damned if I know but I guess if I really want to watch a Linda Blair “women in prison” flick then I should reach over to the movie shelf and pull down my copy of Chained Heat where she’ll tangle with the likes of exploitation queen Sybil Danning for the better part of 90 plus minutes.
Savage Island? Yeah it’s forgettable but God bless the artist who did the poster work on this one. After all, that’s one of the best things about the exploitation market, the art rendered on the poster to sell tickets and Linda did just that getting me to pick this title up in a four pack of lower tier efforts released by Shout Factory a number of years ago. A set that even includes Chatterbox. That’s all you’ll get out of me…… look it up.