The once beloved word Grindhouse has been so overused as of late when it comes to cult film that it is all but meaningless. Does it refer to the time period of the seventies before the mandatory “R” rating of all modern day film where nasty hyper sexualized violent movies played in double, triple features in small filthy theatres or small town drive-ins? Does it refer to the Planet Terror/Death-Proof double feature by Rodriquez and Tariantino which sought to reclaim the authentic feel of a double feature from long ago by using stressed film, fake trailers and a finished hardcore product which still packaged the same tame lame MANDATORY R rated viewing experience that might as well have been filmed on digital all along? Whatever the true, “according to Hoyle” meaning of grindhouse, Full Moon has recently released a ten volume series of movies which hopefully will introduce this overused phrase once again to a whole new generation of moviegoers most of whom, who cannot remember when it actually meant something.
I Liked Savage Island the first time I saw it, when it was called Escape from Hell. A movie I once reviewed as part of a boxed set here. Yet, this isn’t a direct remake. That would be too honest, logical (and I could have simply used the same review). This film reuses many of the same action sequences, plot points and filler scenes from a similar, better women in prison film that was obviously filmed on the same set involving all of the same actors in different roles. At first it might seem like a good idea, perhaps an economical one to mix footage, after all aren’t all women’s prison movies the same? While I must concede that they indeed are, Savage Island isn’t a WIP movie at all, but actually a tale of revenge. In the opening credits a sexily dressed Daly (Linda Blair) gets out of a limo and works her way up to the top of a penthouse where she pulls an Uzi upon a fat man behind a desk, and tells him that she is going to make him pay for keeping her and other girls working in his South American emerald mine. Then Daly is gone for most of the movie as we begin the tale in flashback, focusing on a few of the flour sack clad fake prisoners/female agents riding down the river on a prison boat, women she secretly sent to expose what went on behind the barbed wire of the camp. Yet oddly enough, the raft isn’t being driven by the usual sadistic male jerks but by a bunch of new guards who secretly want to rob the place of all its emeralds and then “blow it up”- a measure which not only supplies a symbolic, cinematic symbol “s’plosions” designed to celebrate the end of tyranny, but also to keep future movies from using the same set a third time.
The emerald/prison camp is run with an iron fist, the owner/manager is a jerk named Jordan who uses all manner of rape and cruelty to amuse himself, even as any sane person watching this wonders why they would use women to do heavy manual labor to begin with? It seems the whole system is designed just so that the poor lasses are almost predestined to fail at the physical grind, physical exertion, and hard labor just to be later raped and tortured for our benefit. But I have been reviewing movies like this for years now, and even as I freely admit is probably far too late (and very dangerous) for me to start asking questions like this now, let me admit freely that the only thing keeping most audiences from laughing then turning this off is the constant stream of flesh and violence being haphazardly stabbed into their eyeballs. However, if I may bring this up, let me say that the original “Escape from Hell” was much more graphic; lurid, if you are into these things for their box art promises and premises. In that film the flesh scenes were almost X-rated, and perhaps more importantly, they build up enough injustice and evil, so when the shooting starts, you tend to empathize with the side of the poor women prisoners. But the real revenge is by (Daly) Linda Blair, for as we return to present day Daly unloads some street justice on the fat man in the chair who doomed her and other women to a South American hell filled with abuse, neglect and stock footage shot for another film released five years year earlier. Oh, the horror of it, you poor dear.
An insane edit of a harder film complete with the Full Moon trailers that you have come to know and expect. By 1985 the grindhouse scene was dead and this was a shot for home video title that stole the harder unrated footage from a more respectable day.
Now let me ask, as an aside, does anyone know how to cut/mix movies? Because these two films shared all of the same scenery and much of the same cast in slightly different characters, and. as a side project, I want to blend these two movies together (for my own private use, not for sale) and make the most unwatchable sexploitation flick ever; a film that would roughly be three hours long and would make absolutely no sense whatsoever. I think it’s the only way to cleanse my mind of this. Through laughter. In my hypothetical “Escape from Savage Hell Island” composed completely of mixed footage, the following plot developments would (apparently) take place:
A sadistic prison guard would brutally rape a woman in one prolonged scene only to change his shirt in a later scene and fight valiantly by her side to destroy the camp by tossing dynamite around. In a third, later scene he would be seen wearing his prison uniform once again and hunting the exact same woman through the jungle with a rifle, a team of dogs, and shooting to kill (Dude, you have severe commitment issues).
It would seem that the camp’s entire function is to clear the rainforest some days only to mine for emeralds on another. (But relax, on day three they “craft”)
There would be two camp honchos running around wearing white suits. Not only would the two characters never meet, but both would completely deny the existence of the other and yet, with every spoken word, declare themselves the ABSOLUTE authority of the camp while everyone around them somehow accepts this (Fight Club 2: Tyler Warden?).
A certain evil lesbian guard would die once, come back from the dead only to die violently again, and therefore would appear immortal (Or EXTREMELY FUCKING BUTCH).
The dubbing would change crucial facts, identities, and plot points of the principals. Some main characters would no longer have speaking lines during crucial plot scenes, and those that did would have different voices both in personality and in vocalization. “Emeralds” would mix with “Escape” interchangeably and some characters would seem to change clothes every five minutes, along with their accents and allegiances. “Hmmm? What’s he up to in that disguise?” the proper viewer might be thinking as they watched this during one of the last moments of sanity in their life.
At the end of the film, the biggest most ineffectual, severely alcoholic letch of a doctor (who treated rape by sleeping with the girls himself because they reminded him of his dead wife) would be entrusted to lead the women deep into the swamps, for safety (all but two will die).
I would take such a film and play it for my friends, (in home, private use only) and, when they couldn’t make heads or tails of this long meandering mess, I would accuse them of not being able to contemplate the subtle craft, the delicate nuances of foreign (dubbed) film, and feign annoyance with them and throw them out, mumbling something about “commoners” or “Disney lovers” below my breath as I did so. Then once the door was securely bolted, I would laugh at them like James Lipton…through a megaphone.
Hah hah hah hah…..