The Island (1980)

the island poster 1980 movie
3.5 Overall Score
Story: 2/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

Good cast and location

Story wastes cast and location

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Island

Studio:  Universal Pictures/Zanuck/Brown Productions

Genre(s): Horror/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s): June 13, 1980

MPAA Rating: R

the island razzie michael caine

Pretty much Michael Caine goes full Rambo in this movie

The disappearance of boats in the Caribbean leads investigative reporter Blair Maynard (Michael Caine) to investigate the unexplained missing people.  Travelling with his son Justin (Jeffrey Frank), Blair finds himself in danger after a fishing trip on the open water leads them to become prisoners of bloodthirsty pirates who have lived in isolation in an unexplored island.  With no means to escape and his son being turned against him by Nau (David Warner), Blair must discover a means of escape before it is too late!

Directed by Michael Ritchie, The Island is a horror suspense thriller.  The film is an adaptation of Peter Benchley’s 1979 novel.  The film was released to negative reviews.  The film received two Razzie nominations at the first Razzie awards for Worst Actor (Michael Caine, also for Dressed to Kill) and Worst Director.

island kung fu pirate

I want the movie to be about this guy

What I remember the most about The Island was the cover of the book when it was rereleased for the film and the poster.  A pirate hand holding a knife coming out of the water which actually looked rather intimidating and creepy since you can see a modern boat in the background.  Though the image is interesting, it is about all that can be said about the movie.

I actually kind of like the concept behind The Island, and in 1980, the idea that pirates could exist in modern times was interesting…the rise of Somali pirates in modern days made it less of a novelty.  Unfortunately, the movie is a bore that can’t decide what type of movie it is.  Often listed as a drama, thriller, or adventure, the movie actually has a lot of horror elements including pirates that aren’t afraid to chop up or shoot their victims.  Like Benchley’s The Deep, the plot kind of bridges the gap between genres but it does it at a snail’s pace that leaves you mostly bored and underwhelmed.

Michael Caine famously won’t talk about The Island which he considers one of his worst film.  For what the movie is, he isn’t bad in it, nor is most of the cast…it just isn’t a good movie.  It really wastes Caine’s talents along with David Warner, Frank Middlemass, and Angela Punch McGregor.  In his first and only film, Jeffrey Frank isn’t bad as Justin Maynard, but once again, it doesn’t really matter because the script is so poor.

the island david warner jeffrey frank

Make America proud, kid…shoot your dad!

Visually, The Island also falters.  The location (obviously) is fantastic, but the island itself is just a scrubby, muddy pit which might be realistic, but doesn’t lend itself to visuals.  You get some rather intense murders (including the ending sequence with the machine gun) and also get one of the best “kung-fu man vs. pirates” sequences put to film…which goes on too long but is awesomely weird.

The Island has gained a bit of a cult following over the years…many big budget, bad movies do.  I don’t know that it is deserving of a following, but the fact that it is kind of memorable at points, might give it some leeway.  The movie also leaves some unanswered questions like the future of Caine’s pirate wife and baby and what happened to the creepy smiling girl pirate.  There are a ton of pirate puns that could be used to describe the inept story of The Island, but I’d rather just let it die (or walk the plank…damn, it is just too easy).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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