THE ISLAND (1980) Reviews and overview

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The Island

‘There’s no escape but death’

The Island is a 1980 American thriller feature film with horror elements, directed by Michael Ritchie and starring Michael Caine (Dressed to Kill; The Hand; The Swarm) and David Warner (Body BagsThe Omen).

The film was based on a novel of the same name by Peter Benchley (Jaws) who also wrote the screenplay.


Blair Maynard (Michael Caine) is a British-born American journalist who decides to investigate the mystery of why so many boats disappear in the Bermuda Triangle of the Caribbean. He takes his estranged son with him to the area on the “vacation” and, while fishing, both are attacked by an unkempt man and brought to an uncharted island.

On the island, Blair discovers the terrible truth: the inhabitants on the island are actually a centuries old colony of savage French pirates,  comprised of outcasts, thieves, and murderers, who are hidden from the outside world by an uncharted Caribbean island, and who raid boats to sustain themselves…

The Island 2


“The film should have been a success: producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown and author Peter Benchley had all been involved in the blockbuster Jaws and consequently the budget was huge. The Caribbean location was a plus, too, but somewhere along the line the film just wasn’t scary. And in the end the only sharks frightening enough to pose a real threat turned out to be the critics.” Michael Caine, The Elephant to Hollywood: The Autobiography

“It is certainly a surprisingly violent film, although here at least Benchley is showing pirate behaviour with a much greater regard to historical realism and the real brutality with which it was conducted than any sanitised traditional Hollywood swashbuckler. But under the hands of Michael Ritchie, The Island thunders and bangs with blundering tedium and emerges as no more than an exercise in phoney machismo.” Moria


“Overly long and mean-spirited at times, this has some good amounts of gore to hold your interest. Unfortunately, slow pacing, bland characterizations and trite dialogue keep it from being anything other than a guilty pleasure.”, The Terror Trap

The Island is one of those movies that’s so odd that it really doesn’t matter whether it’s any good or not.  Between the strange plot and Michael Caine’s almost comically detached performance, this one of those films that, once you start watching, you really can’t look away from it.  In the end, The Island is so weird and misjudged that it becomes brilliant despite itself.” Through the Shattered Lens

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