A worthy upgrade !





Given the prevalence of zealotry and intolerance in today’s world, Island of Death still feels remarkably ‘fresh’, if one can look past the garish 1970s fashions and recognise the rich vein of black humour that runs throughout the picture. The film arguably works best if you approach it as a comic book on screen: its outrageous sense of excess is part of its satirical arsenal. Despite Mastorakis’ suggestion that Island of Death is nothing more than a ‘recipe movie’, it’s quite obvious that the film has a very clearly-defined point-of-view: as a black comedy and a satirical depiction of a form of fanaticism that, it seems, will perennially blight the human race, the film works very well. However, it’s certainly an acquired taste.

This Blu-ray release is very impressive, though there’s some wear and tear to the audio track and the film’s fifth reel suffered extensive damage that the restoration on this disc has gone some way towards remedying. The new presentation certainly highlights the strengths of the film’s photography. It’s a shame that the commentary from Arrow’s previous DVD release hasn’t been ported over to this Blu-ray disc, but regardless there’s a wealth of contextual material on offer here which is worth the price of admission alone: the huge documentary about Mastorakis’ career is fascinating in its level of detail, for example. Fans of the film will find this Blu-ray release a worthy upgrade over the previous DVDs


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...You took a role in the film due to an actor not turning up. Can you tell who the actor was and why he didn’t turn up?


 The actor, Vassilis Mavromatis, wanted 25,000 drachma (some 80 euros by today’s rate) and I didn’t have that in the budget, so I said, what the hell, I’ll play the part myself. I lived to regret it thereafter, as I’m not cut to play any other characters than mine.


The only other professional actor was Nikos Tsachiridis as the shepherd who didn’t have any lines. Was that deliberately ironic?


 Nikos didn’t speak any English but he was brutally perfect for the shepherd’s role, so I decided to make him mute. It played well for the change in Celia’s life, where from so much communication with her brother/lover/accomplice she found a long sought peace in the mute’s deafening quietness. For Celia, that was the return to the normal life she never had. And for Niko’s character, this was the first time he got to have sex with a female, justifying the old axiom that in his village men are men and

the sheep are happy.


 When the painter is decorating the outside of the church before he is crucified you can see the letters, ‘MK’ in red painted on the wall behind him. What did the initials stand for or were they already there when you arrived to film the scene?


Glad you asked ‘cause I never noticed. See, it takes film critics and film buffs to discover little things which the director missed, proclaiming the movie to be in cult classic status when the film makers had no such intentions. Is it too late to give hell to my continuity girl, Nikki Clap? It was her first movie and she cried a lot during the shoot but, never the less, went on to become the best in her business, Steven Spielberg’s favored script supervisor...