Starring Iris McQuillan-Grace, Dan Gordon, Hank Torrance, Libby Krall, Kevin McCauley
Written and directed by Steve Castle
Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale
A tale of a terrible flick
That started when I went to Blockbuster
And made the mistake of renting it
The movie was a mighty boring time
The script lazy and unsure
Six passengers set sail one day
When from the sky fell a meteor
From the sky fell a meteor
The weather started getting rough
The tiny ship was tossed
If not for the courage of this fearless reviewer
My sanity would be lost
My sanity would be lost
They escape ashore of this inexplicably named isle
With boring guys
Their girlfriends too
The lighthouse keeper
And his wife
The family dog
The lesbian and aliens
Here on Predator Island!
Originally titled Hell’s Beacon, the DVD distributors chose to change the film’s title to the uninspired Predator Island. I suppose an uninspired movie deserves an uninspired title. An even better retitling would have been Much Ado About Nothing, but Shakespeare already claimed that one. Nonetheless, Predator Island, Hell’s Beacon, whatever one chooses to call it, is much ado about nothing.
Now before I go any further I want to take issue with something else the DVD distributors did. The back of the box features a trio of quotes that appear on the surface to be critical blurbs.
“An absolute scream fest”
“Rip your heart out horror”
None of these quotes have any critical sources attached to them leading me to assume the distributors just slapped a couple of fake quotes designed to fool less discerning eyes into believing that this film has been hailed as a worthwhile horror flick by real film critics. I find this especially offensive in the case of this particular film considering how bad it really is. Allow me to amend those quotes on the back with blurbs more befitting this motion picture.
“An absolute bore fest”
“Poke your eyes out bad”
My biggest gripe with Predator Island is that it has all the earmarks of a first time filmmaker having made a microbudget film that I’m sure he and everyone else involved with had a ball making and worked really hard to do so, but the end product simply isn’t up to snuff and certainly not deserving of wide distribution. Unfortunately, films of this sort seem to be accumulating more and more space on video store shelves, which helps explain why I tend to find myself writing more negative reviews than positives. I’m always looking for that diamond in the rough. Movies like this represent the rough.
Six dullards leave a New England port on a weekend party boat. A meteor falls from the sky. The weather turns bad, the boat begins experiencing engine problems, and an alien creature climbs aboard to attack one unsuspecting male. When they radio for help their distress call is answered by the lighthouse keeper of a tiny nearby island known as Hell’s Beacon. They abandon ship and make it to shore, minus the guy that got attacked by the alien that they unknowingly believe has potentially drowned. The lighthouse keeper and his wife takes them in and a whole lot of nothing happens until the friend that they thought had been lost at sea shows up covered in green finger paint, kills the lighthouse family’s dog, and generally scares the crap out of everyone. Then another alien shows up, and another, and another. From there they flee the house, fight back, go back to the house, fight back some more, wait it out, and flee again and so on.
There’s virtually no plot to this film other than these non-characters getting chased by the aliens that either attack them in their natural alien form or go out of their way to possess one of them and use that as the means by which to accomplish the same exact goal – to kill and eat their innards. The bodysnatching element seems pointless since there’s really no need for these creatures to do so as they hardly hide in the shadows stalking people; they literally just come charging at them. I can only surmise three possible reasons for the inclusion of this: Either the filmmakers didn’t have enough faith in their alien costumes, didn’t have the budget to have them appear on camera throughout the film, or because if they didn’t then they wouldn’t be able to include an illogical twist late in the film when one character inexplicably reveals themself to be one of the aliens in disguise, an ill conceived plot twist clearly thrown in for no reason other than the filmmakers deciding to cheat in order to try and surprise the audience.
Compounding the problem of the film’s non-plot are the film’s non-characters. There’s so little to them I’ll be damned if I could recite a single character’s name. It’s not until about the 45 minute mark of this 70 minute film that they finally decide to try and even give the remaining characters any sort of personality, but even then they attempt to substitute the occasional insipid one-liner for actual characterization.
Even the aliens don’t fare much better than their human counterparts. I’ll give the filmmakers some credit for using old fashioned man-in-a-rubber monster suit technology, but even then you never really get a good look at the costumes; they’re always darkly filmed so that even when they’re in full view you still can’t make out all the details. Best I can tell, the aliens look like a glowing green-eyed hybrid of those alien soldiers of fortune from The 5th Element and Trumpy from the infamous “Mystery Science Theater 3000 fodder” Pod People. Their often hulking appearance again makes you question the point of the bodysnatching disguises. When they do bodysnatch someone, that person can then make their eyes glow green whenever they feel like revealing themselves to others, and, for reasons never explained nor done with any consistency, they will develop green slimy patches. The aliens’ personalities, motivations, etc. are never touched upon other than just wanting to kill us and feast on our guts.
I think Predator Island was supposed to be along the lines of the 1950s sci-fi monster movies. I say “I think” because that’s what it mostly closely resembles in design more than any other subgenre, but with a dash of Signs tossed in, and the very last scene blatantly rips off the first Resident Evil movie, even managing to do a worse job at it than Uwe Boll did with the climax to Alone in the Dark. Whatever Predator Island was meant to be in the vein of it fails due to its complete lack of suspense, excitement, or imagination.
We’re told that the lighthouse on the island of Hell’s Beacon (named so after a legendary incident in which the lighthouse caught fire causing an old sea captain to get confused and run his ship aground, killing many) is the last one of its kind that run on natural gas power. The very second the lighthouse keeper needlessly volunteered this trivial piece of information within the first 15 minutes of the film I instantaneously predicted that the last five minutes would involve the lighthouse getting blown up. Indeed, the lighthouse goes boom. Even that can’t stop the movie from going thud.
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