Written by / 9/12/2018 / No comments / , , , , , , , , , ,

ACTOR/DIRECTOR MARK STEVENS 'ESCAPE FROM HELL ISLAND'

FROM HELL ISLAND" year: 1963
There's filmmaking, and then there are films that somehow get made but that still don't seem like actual movies: Which is what the misleadingly titled ESCAPE FROM HELL ISLAND is: Basically an early 1960's retooling of TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT since actor/director Mark Stevens's ex-smuggler Captain James, a charter boat captain, is hired by two exiled Cubans to pick up refugees living in Fidel Castro's title island...

Made during JFK's presidency, an unpopular Cuba is the proverbial HELL: A locale we see for only a split second as military gunman fire at Captain James's boat while he's picking up the human cargo, and one in particular is supposed to mean everything. Surprisingly, given the tagline, "Sharing a Love That Was Not Theirs To Take," the second lead isn't the sexy Cuban girl played by sexy, usually blond WESTWORLD and PSYCH-OUT actress Linda Scott (mistakenly billed on IMDb as Linda Gaye Scott). Rather, her abusive, deranged husband is not only the main antagonist, he pretty much steals the entire show. If HELL ISLAND were made ten years later, Bruce Dern would have played the part had by a skinny, chaotic Jack Donner as Kyle Dennison, who even gets the standalone "And" treatment in the opening credits, which usually means the second most important character after the lead...

Linda Scott and Mark Stevens
Mark Stevens, who, a decade earlier, starred and directed in the sublime yet underrated Alaska-set FIlm Noir, CRY VENGEANCE, has little to no budget here, using what looks like stolen footage of various establishing exterior shots of either the charter boat or sailboat backed by a strange and hypnotically nautical, tropical jazz score...

Looking emaciated and worn, his performance is beyond subdued: He's neither a cocky or cool Humphrey Bogart type or anyone you'd see in a Key West Florida-set Pulpy Noir that this tries/wants desperately to be...

Especially the initial immigrant pickup involving a rummy sidekick who sneaked on board, exactly like Walter Brennan in TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (as Eddy from the Ernest Hemingway source novel), and there are moments when the picture almost settles into a primal groove where an actual story begins shaping-up... Especially when Captain James sparks a possible romance with Linda Scott's sexy Cuban ingenue, Linda. But Jack Donner as the insanely jealous (insane and jealous) Kyle, described by his wife as an "immoral Communist eunuch," takes over at this point. And for some bizarre reason, the captain sets out on his sailboat alone with the lanky, cranky, completely untrustworthy, crooked, backstabbing, delusional husband who, during the entire bizarre third act after throwing the captain overboard, leads a prolonged cat and mouse (or cat and fish) game...

Regular Score: *1/2 Camp Value: **1/2
As the non-stressed captain swims in circles while random shark stock-footage pops up to build suspense. But nothing comes of that threat... not even a dorsal fin cutting above the water... and it's hard to think they're in the middle of nowhere when the ocean floor is visible every time we see the captain circle his boat...

So the rest of the film plays out with Donner going more and more berserk, and at one point imagining the boat and the surrounding ocean catching on fire. In a movie that'd been mostly wide shots of actors spouting rushed dialogue, the lunatics' imagination is better than the real thing. Making ESCAPE FROM HELL ISLAND the kind of god-awful experience where nothing ever actually happens. Then again, for guilty pleasure's sake, it can be a pretty intriguing nightmare.
Jack Donner's third act tormenting is pure cinematic torture in ESCAPE FROM HELL ISLAND
Linda Scott and Mark Stevens in ESCAPE FROM HELL ISLAND
Linda Scott and Jack Donner in ESCAPE FROM HELL ISLAND
Linda Scott in ESCAPE FROM HELL ISLAND
Jack Donner stealing scenes in the middle of Escape from Hell Island, who's more a villain than any island
Jack Donner and Craig Stevens ESCAPE FROM HELL ISLAND
Jack Donner and Craig Stevens ESCAPE FROM HELL ISLAND
Escape from Hell Island Starring/Directed by Mark Stevens and Reviewed by James M. Tate
Share This Post :
Tags : , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

All Time Popular

Featured Post

MICHAEL WINNER DIRECTS MICHAEL CAINE IN 'BULLSEYE!'

Title: BULLSEYE Cast: Michael Caine, Roger Moore Year: 1990 Rating: ** By 1990 how the 1970's mighty-British had fallen, three-fold, as ...

WWW.CULTFILMFREAKS.COM

WWW.CULTFILMFREAKS.COM
Movie Reviews, Interviews, Articles and Pop Culture from White Heat to Blue City

RIP ACTOR KEN HUTCHISON

TOTAL HITS

Popular Trending

FOUNDED BY JAMES M. TATE

FOUNDED BY JAMES M. TATE
RANDOM QUOTE: "Some of my best friends are ghosts." Dana Andrews in Jacques Tourneur's Curse of the Demon

NEO NOIR & FILM NOIR CINEMA


Reviews from the movies of Charles Bronson

FAVORITES SHORTLIST

1)OTLEY 2)HELL IS A CITY 3)ROBBERY 4)CANYON PASSAGE 5)THE FEARMAKERS 6)VIOLENT SATURDAY 7)HOT CARS 8)JUNGLE STREET 9)ANATOMY OF A MURDER 10)THE CROWDED SKY 11))THE MAN FROM LARAMIE 12)SHARKS' TREASURE 13)SWEENEY TWO 14)RAIDERS FROM BENEATH THE SEA 15)HARDCORE 16)THE SYSTEM 17)WHITE HEAT 18)HOT FUZZ 19)TENTACLES 20)FALLEN ANGEL 21)NIGHT CREATURES 22)CURSE OF THE DEMON 23)ASH WEDNESDAY 24)KILLER FISH 25)AIR PATROL 26)DUEL IN THE JUNGLE 27)EASY LIVING 28)WILLIAM CONRAD'S BRAINSTORM 29)FRENZY 30)THE ROARING TWENTIES 1)DANA ANDREWS 2)JAMES CAGNEY 3)JACK NICHOLSON 4)MARLON BRANDO 5)STANLEY BAKER 1)VIRGINIA MAYO 2)SUE LYON 3)GENE TIERNEY 4)MERRY ANDERS 5)FAYE DUNAWAY DIRECTORS 1)JACQUES TOURNEUR 2)RICHARD FLEISCHER 3)STANLEY KUBRICK 4)ORSON WELLES 5)OTTO PREMINGER 6)JOHN LANDIS 7)JOHN GUILLERMAN 8)VAL GUEST 9)JOHN CARPENTER 10)MICHAEL WINNER

BRITISH NEW WAVE CINEMA

RARITIES AND EXPLOITATION

HAMMER HORROR & THRILLER

Popular This Month

WESTERN GENRE REVIEWS

CINEMA OF DANA ANDREWS

PEAKING INTO THE SIXTIES

KICKING IN THE EIGHTIES

TALES AND REFLECTIONS

REVVING THE SEVENTIES

FOR HORROR MOVIE REVIEWS


Reviews for the British series The Sweeney

Most Popular Last Year

RETURN TO THE HOMEPAGE