The IslandThe Island
Director: Michael Ritchie

Cast: Michael Caine, David Warner, Angela Punch McGrego
Review by Brian M. Sammons

Arrrrr, where be my pirate booty?

Ok, that’s the mandatory talk like a pirate bit out of the way. Sorry, but anything pirate related just has to have something like that in it, it’s the law or something.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “why is Brian so damn awesome?” Well I can’t answer that, it’s just a gift I guess. Just like I can guess that your second question is, “why is Brian reviewing The Island, a pirate movie, on a horror website?” Well for two reasons. One, this pirate tale was penned by Peter Benchley who dreamt up Jaws, so for that alone I’ll give him a pass … once. And two, this new Blu-ray came out from my newest most favorite BD/DVD production company out there, the magnificent Scream Factory. So far those cats can do no wrong, but will this bucket full of buckled swash be their first misstep? Well grab your eye patch, your parrot, and your cutlass, because its pirate time. Please don’t tell the ninjas, they’d get so jealous.

From the mind of the man who made watery thrills his thing comes this tale of modern day pirates. But if you’re expecting Somali thugs with machineguns and RPGs then you’d be mistaken. That bit of reality is nowhere near as romantic enough for this movie that has descendants of old school French pirates living in seclusion on a tiny, unmapped island in the Caribbean. Yes, these are pirates of the Caribbean, pretty much as they appeared in the Johnny Depp movie, just far less corny and placed in the modern setting.

Michael Caine plays a reporter who goes to the Caribbean to do a story on why so many boats have gone missing in the Bermuda Triangle. He brings with him his estranged son so they can get closer together on this working vacation. Before you can say “shiver me timbers” (sorry I can’t help myself) Caine and his son run into the scurvy seadogs and are taken prisoner. The reporter is kept alive to make it with some of the pirate wenches so he can add some much needed “new blood” to the pirates to offset their incestuous lifestyle. Also, so he can act as a scribe for the illiterate pirates. Meanwhile the leader of the sea raiders has taken a special interest in the reporter’s son and set about brainwashing him into become his surrogate son and heir. Thus begins the thrust of the story where Michael Caine tries to both escape the island of pirates and win his son back who is starting to like the bloodthirsty life a little too much.

The Island takes a somewhat plausible, if highly unlikely, premises of old fashioned pirates still alive and well today, or at least the today of 1980, and then sadly sort of meanders around with it. There’s some good cutthroat violence, Michael Caine does a good job being the beleaguered father, and perennial villain David Warner is really good as the pirate leader. Unfortunately the movie overall is a bit tedious. It’s not exactly bad, but it is just not thrilling as anything with pirates in it should be.

Sadly The Island is the low point for the Scream Factory releases thus far. However rather than that be a condemnation, it’s actually says loads about the overall quality of all the other stuff they have so far released. And again, this movie isn’t all that horrible. That said, I think Scream Factory knew the strength of this film before they released it as it is as barebones as it gets. It is devoid of any special features whatsoever and it doesn’t even have a slipcover or any of the physical extras that have become standard for Scream Factory releases. It does come as a Blu-ray/DVD 2 pack, so there is that.

If you’re looking for a pirate fix, The Island will do that for you. It also has Caine and Warner both doing dependable, if not remarkable, acting jobs. There’s some blood for the gorehounds, but this movie is far from a slasher flick. Al in all, this film is a decent watch, but it’s not a thrilling one. Consider it a few steps above the dreaded “meh” rating and a mild recommendation at best.

About Brian M. Sammons

Brian M. Sammons has penned stories that have appeared in the anthologies: Arkham Tales, Horrors Beyond, Monstrous, Dead but Dreaming 2, Horror for the Holidays, Deepest, Darkest Eden and others. He has edited the books; Cthulhu Unbound 3, Undead & Unbound, Eldritch Chrome, Edge of Sundown, Steampunk Cthulhu, Dark Rites of Cthulhu, Atomic Age Cthulhu, World War Cthulhu and Flesh Like Smoke. He is also the managing editor of Dark Regions Press’ Weird Fiction line. For more about this guy that neighbors describe as “such a nice, quiet man” you can check out his infrequently updated webpage here: and follow him on Twitter @BrianMSammons.

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