Blu-ray Review: Zombie Island Massacre

There’s a conspiracy when it comes to major studio horror films about nightmare vacations that end in body counts. The people who get massacred by locals are always those that refuse to be a part of a package tour. They’re the adventurous type that want to do things away from the tourists. They rent a car, camp in the woods and only visit places recommended by the locals. And eventually get slaughtered by something never mentioned in the tourist brochures. Perhaps if you do a deep dig, you’ll find out that the budget for these films comes from travel business wanting to scare you into making reservations at their all inclusive resorts and cruises ships. Disney owns vacation resorts. Do you think they want to scare you from booking passage on the SS Mickey? On the other hand, indie film companies aren’t in bed with Big Tourism so they have no problem reminding viewers that they can meet the same fate whether they get on the tour bus or hitch a ride. Zombie Island Massacre reminds us that all-inclusive doesn’t include tips or survival.

Sandy (The Malibu Bikini Shop‘s Rita Jenrette) takes a shower in her hotel bathroom when a man in a ritual mask sneaks onto the tiles. After a massive screen, she realizes it’s just her husband Joe (Ian McMillian). After a romp in bed, they get a call from the front desk letting them know their tour bus is leaving soon. Where are they going on this Caribbean island? How about to see an authentic zombie making ritual. That’s bound to be a little more exciting than zip lines or a shuffleboard tournament. Joining them on the journey to see a little undead action are other resort guests. Unlike some made for tourist attractions, the zombie ceremony is not cute. There’s a dead body on the altar and a goat sacrifice. This is all too much for one couple who retreat into the woods. Instead of merely decompressing, the do what newly married couples do. However someone amongst trees and tall grass isn’t merely a voyeur. They have a successful marriage. Yet the other people on the tour aren’t sure what happened to them. They only get freaked out when they return to the bus and discover trip home is going to be longer since the engine is missing a part. The hotel guests walk toward the dock instead of wait in the broken bus. As the night gets darker, something in the woods gets more ruthless in tracking them down.

The big star of the movie is Rita Jenrette. She wasn’t the usual actress who flew in from Iowa with the dream of being a scream queen. Turns out she was a political operative who while moving up the ranks in Washington D.C. married a Congressman. He gained fame when the FBI busted him as part of ABSCAM where he took money from an agent undercover as an Arab businessman for favors. Rita went public with her side of the story by giving an in-depth interview to Playboy magazine and stripping down for the photographs. She wrote a tell all book that claimed she and the Representative from the great state of South Carolina had gotten frisky on the Capitol steps one night. She got into acting and after a Fantasy Island found herself on Zombie Island for a Troma film. The founder of Troma, Lloyd Kaufman spoke about how if a role required nudity, he’d shoot that first so the actor couldn’t do most of the role and back out of dropping their robe. Well this time the film gets the nudity onto the screen early with Rita’s shower scene. The audience isn’t teased or immediately wanting to hit fast forward to find the promised showering.

Zombie Island Massacre has all the elements of a fine film you’d catch at 3 a.m. on USA’s Up All Night with the nudity intact. There’s a bit of gore, an intense voodoo ceremony, a bit of a twist and the serious reason why you shouldn’t sign up for any resort activities. The movie does twist things around so it’s not merely about zombie chasing down the hotel guests. There’s a bigger and nastier reason for all the bloodshed. Zombie Island Massacre delivers on its title. They’re on the island. They encounter zombies. And we get to see a massacre of the guests. You will learn that a resort’s all inclusive promise delivers a body bag.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. You’ll be able to see all the action that takes place at night since previous VHS and DVD were reportedly extra dark. The audio is DTS-HD MA mono. The mix allows you to hear the noises in the jungle of the approaching zombies. The movie is subtitled.

DVD with movie and bonus features.

Trailer (2:40) has a bit of a fun selling a vacation on Zombie Island as a great idea.

TV Spots (0:58) gets people ready for the body count at the resort. Plus they sell us Rita Jenrette as a hot star from her Playboy pictorials.

Promotional “Sizzle” Reel (13:51) is a shortened version of the film with highlights in order to get TV stations or pay cable channels to carry the film. While I couldn’t find if the movie aired on USA’s Up All Night, it would fit right in.

Vinegar Syndrome present Zombie Island Massacre. Directed by: John N. Carter. Screenplay by: David Broadnax, Logan O’Neil & William Stoddard. Starring: David Broadnax, Rita Jenrette, Tom Cantrell, Diane Clayre Holub & George Peters. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 88 minutes. Released: February 25, 2020.

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