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The seventies were a great time for zombie movies. Even when the movies weren't great, they were often insane and fun, almost despite their low quality. So, it's clear why the producers of Zombie Isle would want to hearken back to those wonderful times and make their film as much like the ones of that era as possible. They don't entirely succeed.
Professor Foster (Tony Jones) has a field trip planned for his biology students. They're going to go to a remote island and study the plants that have grown there in isolation from the mainland. Of course, Foster is also eager for an opportunity for some alone time with star pupil Amie (Kyle Billeter). The motley group of students breaks off into pairs, and Foster makes sure that he's paired with his intended student fling.
Of course, unbeknownst to Foster or his students, the island is home to an embittered Nazi scientist Dr. Claude von Wolff (David S. Witt). The good doctor has been experimenting with transplants and reanimation, trying to revive his dead wife, with the predictable result that there are dozens of walking dead who quickly begin to devour the unlucky students. The three headed monster zombie is particularly vicious, so the doctor keeps him chained up.
Zombie Isle makes efforts to appear of the seventies. The sound is intentionally bad, with hissing and popping. The image is cluttered with scratches and defects. It does a passable job at appearing to be a low quality film print from the era. But aside from that, they do very little. The haircuts and outfits aren't particularly evocative of the time, or the idiomatic language, or anything else. Foster does wear a turtleneck, but then so do a lot of difficult to get along with guys nowadays. And this faux-seventies gimmick seems to be the only really interesting and unique thing about the film.
It works decently well as a straight zombie movie. The zombie makeup is pretty good, though the three headed zombie is ridiculously cheesy, I'm sure by intention. The blood and gore is well executed. The performances are okay, perhaps a little wooden, but they're not awful. The biggest problem is that the film is neither exceptionally scary nor funny, and why else would we watch a horror movie? There are some really cool visual moments, and the filmmakers seem to have a lot of passion, but there isn't enough good stuff to make Zombie Isle stand out from the crowd.
Zombie movie completists and superfans will probably want to check this out. For the rest of you, Rent It.
The video is 1.78:1 widescreen, and has been intentionally made to look poor in quality. The film is something of an homage to 70's drive-in zombie flicks, and the video quality reflects that. Keep in mind that this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality of the final product.
Audio is Dolby digital 2 channel, and sounds scratchy and hissy, which is intentional, as noted above. No subtitles are included, which is a small problem the few times that dialogue isn't quite clear. No alternate language tracks are included. Keep in mind that this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality of the final product.
No extras are included. Keep in mind that this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality or quantity of extras on the final product.
Zombie Isle tries really hard in some ways to emulate the sleazy zombie films of the seventies, but in other ways it doesn't try enough. Those movies were seriously weird, and Zombie Isle is almost mundane by comparison. It's not a bad movie at all, it's simply not a good movie. There's fun to be had, but not buckets full.