Island of the Dead (2000)

Rating: E

Dir: Tim Southam
Star: Talisa Soto, Bruce Ramsey, Malcolm McDowell, Mos Def

Off the coast of New York City is Hart Island. Over the years, it has been a POW camp, a sanitarium and a missile base, but the main claim to fame is that it’s where the city buries the unclaimed or unknown dead, using prisoners from nearby Riker’s Island. It’s been doing that, at the rate of about 16 a day, since 1869 – to save you the math, that’s more than 800,000 corpses. Since this is 100% fact, not fiction, what a fabulous place to locate a horror movie; can you imagine, say, a zombie film set on the island? So, credit the makers for that. Unfortunately, the threat they chose to invoke here is utterly lame: killer flies.

Yes, flies. We had to watch this, simply to see how they were going to juice things up. Genetic engineering? Radiation-induced mutations? Steroid-enraged flies named Barry in little San Francisco shirts? [Sorry – inane baseball reference.] Nope. Just flies. Even then, for more than half the running-time, this is a no-fly zone; you get some “insect-cam” shots, but nothing significant actually happens. And when it does, the deaths are shot with a total lack of imagination, the same way every time: buzz, flail, collapse, decompose.

The plot has cop O’Keefe (Soto) out there to find the body of a murder victim – cue lengthy, irrelevant slow-mo shots of little girls skipping – where she bumps into property tycoon King (McDowell) who plans to develop the island. The local flies apparently take exception to this and, I kid you not, cut the phone lines. It’s all downhill from here, folks, and it’s hard to tell who behaves more intelligently over the next 45 minutes; insects or people. The execution here is just terrible, there’s no other applicable word – if anyone suggests you watch it, tell them…sorry about this…to “Buzz off”. 🙂