Written by: George Pacheco on February 17th, 2015
Theatrical Release Dates: Italy, September 17th, 2008
Director: Bruno Mattei
Writer: Antonio Tentori
Cast: Yvette Yzon, Gaetano Russo, Alvin Anson
DVD Release Date: February 10th, 2015
Approximate Running Time: 97 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: Intervision / Severin Films
Region Encoding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Bless the folks at Severin for releasing the final duo of films infamous Italian director Bruno Mattei here to the masses, this first flick being a loving look back at the bloody, crunchy legacy of the country’s messy zombie movie heritage.
Island of the Living Dead was originally released in 2007, long after the g(l)ory days of Italian genre cinema had passed by such directors as Mattei, yet this fact failed to dissuade the enthusiasm of the unflappable filmmaker, as proven by the straight-ahead, old school approach Bruno and his producer/co-screenwriter Giovanni Paolucci took to task here with this film.
Indeed, the tone is mostly serious here, despite the awkward dubbing which occasionally derails the film-well…that and characters with goofy names like “Snoopy”-as Mattei and Paolucci tell the tale of a group of treasure hunters who become shipwrecked upon an undead inhabited island, full of unpredictable black magic, vengeful ghosts and bloody death traps. The old school zombie flick atmosphere is bolstered by the excellent make-up work and successful gore effects which work well alongside the subtly incorporated digital assistance.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a Bruno Mattei flick without a bunch of heisted musical cues, and Island of the Living Dead makes good on the director’s legacy (sort of), by sharing an action suspense cue with the popular Food Network competition show Chopped! Elsewhere, there are also chunks of dialog and famous sequences stolen from other/better films, such as George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2 and even Mattei’s own Hell of the Living Dead!
Still, this flick is a fun ride for foreign gore fans, even if Mattei’s earlier shot-on-video productions-such as Land of Death and Mondo Cannibal-were a bit more fun in their devil may care, over the top sense of pacing and fun. Island of the Living Dead may drag a little bit in comparison, but this flick is still highly recommended for Italian horror fans seeking some late period determination from one of its truly dedicated masters.
Severin presents Island of the Living Dead in an anamorphic widescreen presentation with plenty of bright color tones, and an audio quality which is without error…although one could argue that could be a bad thing, given Mattei’s penchant for “off” sounding dub tracks! Extras for this release include interviews with screenwriter Antonio Tentori and producer Giovanni Paolucci, as well as the film’s original trailer and an international sales promo. making this a superior presentation to Severin’s prior late-period Mattei DVDs. Recommended.