Thursday, 8 March 2012

I watch movies so you don't have to #12 - Terminal Island (1973)

Terminal Island (1973)
Directed by: Stephanie Rothman
Starring: Don Marshall, Phyllis Davis, Ena Hartman and Tom Selleck

So, this one was interesting. An island "prison" film made by a female director. I'd never actually heard of Stephanie Rothman, but a quick glance at her imdb page told me she was the first female to be given a Directors Guild of America fellowship and the she credits Roger Corman as her only mentor. Not surprising then that her filmography is made up of titles like The Working Girls, The Student Nurses, It's a Bikini World and Blood Bath.

Anyway, I did really enjoy this one. Set in the near future, where the state of California have abolished the death penalty. Instead, convicted murderers (male and female) are sent to Terminal Island, a small island 40 miles off the coast, surrounded by electronic mines, where they are dumped and left to fend for themselves. No guards, no nothing...just an island of murderers trying to survive.

As usual, this post contains big spoilers and some images depicting violence and nudity.

Carmen is on her way to become the latest resident of Terminal Island. Upon arrival, her armed guard removes her cuffs and informs her of the situation. She has been sentenced to exile for the rest of her life and declared legally dead.

She's asked to sign her name to show that she understands the situation. "I've never heard of a corpse signing its name", she replies cooly. Oh yeah, Carmen is a tough cookie indeed.

She takes a stroll around the beach to check out her new home. Corpses line the beach as the opening song of the soundtrack tells us that "forever is a damn long time" (It's Too Damn Bad by Jeff Thomas).

Nice welcome!

She tries to settle in, unaware that she's being watched.

"Stay there or I'll kill you!"

"Go ahead! You'd be doing me a favour"

And so...we're introduced to the first of her fellow islanders, Dr Milford. Recognise that face? It's Magnum PI himself, Tom Selleck!

She's given the lowdown on the situation. People die all the time on this island. The number of prisoners is around 40, down from 75 when Milford arrived.

Carmen survives the first night and goes exploring. She soon finds the "village" where most of the islanders are living...and they're expecting her.

"New bitch ought to be here any minute"

And there you have Bobby, the leader of the village and Monk, his right hand man.

The rules are laid down pretty quickly. It's not an easy life for the ladies, that's one thing we're pretty sure of from the start. Carmen tries to stand up to Monk, but he's a big guy.

Welcome to Terminal Island, baby"

So, Bobby is in charge of operations. Their self-sustained society works in a simple way - Bobby and Monk give orders and the rest get paid in "ass" if they do their work.

The other ladies visit Carmen in her tent and explain the situation

"We're too valuable to run loose. We're the property of every man on this island"

Carmen is not having it...

"Nobody's gonna run me. I'm breaking out of here. I'm going after Monk...I'm gonna wipe out that big nigger faggot. I'm gonna smash his balls until they turn to jello!"

Although the others are not showing it yet, this attitude is clearly needed. They all need to stand up to this shit.

Next day...and time to get to work.

"OK, cows. You can rest"

Erm...yes...so, it's all pretty nightmarish. The men are all complete assholes, fighting over the smallest things. The women are used both as slaves and reward. And then there's Dr Milford. The only one who seems like a nice guy, but he's also a junkie and you get the idea that the only reason he's alive is because of his doctor skills. He tries to bandage Carmen's hands, but Monk isn't having any of it.

"Bitch, move your ass. You're off to digging! Now!"

He certainly has a way with words.

Later on, after a hard day of gruelling work, Carmen is having a bit of a wash...

...Monk comes in...

"You don't need a shirt for what you're gonna do"

He tells them they're all working "night shift" and it's pretty obvious what that entails. One of the girls, Bunny, is spared...

...well, not spared at all...but, rather saved for the boss himself, Bobby.

"Take off your shirt"
"If there's anything you don't wanna do...just say the word"

Next day, there's a fight.

Monk wants to intervene, but Bobby stops him.

"Let it happen, Monk. It's just one less mouth to feed."

The corpse is thrown into the sea...

And now it's getting interesting. The ladies seem to get on a bit better. We find out that there's a "rebel group", a bunch of former villagers who were kicked out some time ago. Bobby's minions are under strict orders to kill these traitors on sight.

Our ladies are doing some washing, under the watchful eyes of Dr Milford and others.

They're being watched!

FIGHT!

Our ladies and Milford excape together with the new gang. But, are they any better? I guess we'll see.

It starts off well, with Joy (who you might remember from my previous entry in this series, Sweet Sugar) immediately starting to flirt with one of the guys.

"Oh I dropped something down my shirt"

One of them, Dylan, does seem a bit aggro and he has his eyes set on Joy.

I've been flogging my mule for three months"

So, he tries to get a piece of Joy...

...but the others come to her rescue. She's not impressed.

"You're gonna wish you hadn't done that, Dylan. I'm gonna fix your ass!"

Next day...the way they've been surviving since escaping from the village is by always being on the move. But, the girls have a new plan...kill Bobby!

And they have a lot of random skills that they never got to utilise in the village.

Archery!

One of them is even a scientist...

"It's niter. We can get potassium nitrate from it. If we mix it with sulphor and charcoal we make gunpowder and some pretty deadly hand grenades"

And Carmen...she knows about voodoo...and how to make poison arrows.

And later on it's time for Joy to have her revenge on Dylan!

She goes into to the water...

...well aware that Dylan is watching.

She gets out of the water...

...and seduces him...

Knowing a thing or two about the whereabouts of some particularly territorial and vicious honey bees, she starts rubbing honey all over Dylan more sensitive areas. He doesn't know shit about bees, so he doesn't object.

She gets him to turn over and runs over to the bee hive...

Big ouch!

I guess that means they're even.

Not soon after...they're spotted by Monk and his cohorts.

Thanks to some clever booby-trapping, most of them manage to escape.

At the mean camp, Bobby is not impressed.

"I want them dead, Monk. Why can't you do that?"

Back in the good camp, it's time to get a proper plan in motion. That means making some of those voodoo poison arrows.

And some gunpowder.

Bunny (who we now know is mute...by choice) goes to a nearby waterfall to wash.

But, she's captured by Monk and Co! Booo!

Bobby has devised an evil plan. He knows that the government are about to deliver a new shipment of supplies and he wants to steal the guns from those guards.

He ties her up to some posts and whips her.

"No one will be able to resist that"
"I want it to work, Bunny. I had to use you. You understand."

Unable to intervene, our gang is watching Bobby's plan unfold...

The armed guards arrive...

One of the baddies swim out to knock out the driver of the boat.

Bunny's not a happy bunny...

...and the cops just can't help it. They have to set her free.

But by now, the baddie on the boat is armed...

And the cops are no more.

Our gang is still watching. They can't just stand there, while the baddies arm themselves with machine guns and stuff.

One of them (I lost track of the character names, sorry) swims out to take the baddie by surprise.

Poison arrow! And now our gang has some guns as well! Yay!

The news reach Bobby and, again, he's not impressed. He's also going a bit loopy. Well, not that he was exactly sane before, but now he's officially losing the plot. He throws a bit of a hissy fit.

"I don't need you! I don't need anybody!" Our gang is ready. They move towards the village armed with poison arrows, homemade hand grenades and some guns.

Yup...big shoot-out!

Guns!

Explosions!

Death!

Running!

And then...just like that...it's all over...the good guys win! Hooray!

Evil Monk is blinded in the attack, but at the last minute they decide to spare his life...they're good guys, remember!

Awww....some time has passed and now everyone is living in harmony. Joy is pregant!

Then one day, the cops arrive at the island to drop off a new convict and to get Dr Milford back to the real world for a re-trial.

Milford has to make a decision...stay or go. He looks at Bunny.

"Norman Milford is dead!"

Yup, he wants to stay with his girl.

"Welcome to Terminal Island"

The End!

There you go. I really enjoyed this one. It was a bit different. Maybe it was because of the female at the helm, but it wasn't as heavily reliant on nudity and/or violence as women-in-prison movies tend to be. Tongue-in-cheek without being silly and just a pretty solid 90 minutes.

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