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Pirates of Ghost Island (DVD)

Pirates of Ghost Island review!Starring Melissa Powell, William Landsman, Thomas Stiver, Jennifer Cascio, Tristan Baker

Directed by Mitch Toles

Distributed by Lionsgate


Pirates of Ghost Island is sooooooooooo awful that I was honestly wondering for short while there if I was actually somehow being punk’d. This whole production felt like one really bad unfunny joke, so much so I have a hard to imagining even the people involved in the making of it could find it amusing. Teenagers that look anything but wash ashore an island on which a gang of pirates were cursed by an evil spirit hundreds of years earlier… Geez, even trying to recap the plot is bringing back the mental anguish this film heaped upon me.

Seriously, what the hell? I realize Lionsgate has zero standards when it comes to releasing bottom-of-the-barrel horror movies to DVD, evidenced by their continued support of Ulli Lommel, but must they now begin picking up Brain Damage Films cast-offs? Pirates of Ghost Island looks and feels (right down to it sporadically suffering from inconsistent picture quality) like the sort of junk Brain Damage should be distributing. But I guess since Brain Damage already unloaded an unwatchable supernatural pirate horror flick on the public last year…

Hold a sec. This begs a more prudent question: why is it that nobody can make a decent horror flick about pirates?

A bunch of pirates arrive on Fishkill Island… Yeah, the island in question is actually named Fishkill Island, not Ghost Island. I suppose calling the movie Pirates of Fishkill Island just wouldn’t have sounded … I can’t even finish that sentence. When you’ve made a bloody horror movie with a title that sounds like it could have been used for a “Scooby Doo” cartoon then you’ve already hit rock bottom.

So a bunch of pirates have arrived on Fishkill Island to bury some treasure. Every line of dialogue out of their mouths sounds like it was first filtered through some sort of pirate-speak dialect translator and they physically look like actors in pirate garb who should be taking part in the filming of reenactment scenes for some sort of History Channel special about the real pirates of the Caribbean. It’s just laughable for about the first minute or two. It quickly becomes grating.

I got some pirate-speak for you. Arrr, me bucko… This movie be sucko! How’s that? I could have been one of the pirates in this movie.

Fishkill Island was cursed even before the pirates arrived. There’s a supernatural force already haunting the island that can manifest Photoshopped blue rays of light and speaks in a booming distorted voice like it’s Unicron from Transformers: The Movie. The pirate captain’s wife, who is nice enough to take the time to write an entry in her journal about her three-minutes on the island, is the first to fall victim to this evil presence. Then the rest fall victim and find themselves doomed to an eternity as ghosts trapped on the island.

Pirates of Ghost Island review!Now flash-forward hundreds of years to modern times where a bunch of really old for high school graduates have gotten themselves shipwrecked and washed ashore so that they can awaken perfectly dry on the beach. They also awaken on the island with little memory as to how they got there (and seemingly no memory as to how to act either). Plus, they’re dumb. How dumb? Few want to panic; most want to party.

One girl, Sarah, figures out where they are and begins talking all about the legends surrounding Fishkill Island. You can also tell she’s supposed to be the reincarnation of Captain Morgan’s long lost bride because she’s played by the same actress from the opening flashback. Though Sarah already knows all about her ancestors’ pirate-filled past from all the tales she’s heard from her grandpa, just to be on the safe side the cursed ghosts left the wife’s 400-year old journal just laying around on the ground waiting to be found. Then the undead pirates show up and begin killing them. Except that for the pirate captain who only has eyes for Sarah, who suddenly finds herself becoming possessed by his dead wife’s spirit.

Of all the aspects of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies for Pirates of Ghost Island to try and emulate, why did the makers of it choose to go with loading the already abysmal plot with convoluted alliances and double-crosses between the mortal teens and some of the feuding ghost pirates?

But here’s the thing: these undead pirates don’t even look undead. They looked like the same exact bearded guys in costume shop pirate outfits as they did during the 400-years ago opening prologue. The only thing that makes them ghostly is the cheesy transparency effects used to fade them in and out of the shot. Even if they had looked spooky in the slightest, the director still shot the whole film in the brightest of broad daylight. Between all the Halloween pirate costumes, the overdone pirate-speak, the super cheap ghostly fades, the sunniest horror movie setting ever, the flash animation lightning and blue beam effects, the novelty store tiki torches adorning a centuries old cave, and the horrifying scene where someone has a plastic toy spider crawl on their shoulder, Pirates of Ghost Island came across like someone started out intending to make a pirate movie aimed at the kiddy crowd but then changed their mind at the last moment and decided to go with a gory horror flick instead. No nudity either.

Before it’s over one bikini chick will get killed by the vines of a tree in a manner that should invoke memories of the scene from Ed Wood where Bela Lugosi had to manually work the tentacles of that rubber octopus in order to make it look like he was being attacked, someone will get killed by a ghostly island native who looks like a scrawny pro wrestler wearing skeletal Halloween face paint like that worn by the Kobra Kai guys in The Karate Kid, and they’ll encounter a Japanese World War II soldier ghost swinging a samurai sword clearly played by a very white man. But even with all that any genuine camp value is still virtually non-existent.

Sometimes even a no budget movie that is made to be intentionally campy is still just so bad it’s bad and Pirates of Ghost Island had already achieved mind-numbing status by the 15-minute mark. Keep in mind the film is only 75-minutes long. I’ll be damned if it didn’t feel more like 750-minutes.

The crazy pirate captain was named Captain Morgan. Yes, as in the guy the rum is named after. I think naming the main pirate “Captain Morgan” may have been less an in-joke than a coded message to the audience that we all really need to be stinkin’ drunk in order to get through this ordeal. Unfortunately, I was sober and even if I hadn’t been, I seriously doubt liquor alone would have been enough to make this film go down easy. Should’ve named him “Captain Chasing The Dragon” because I’m thinking only heroin might be strong enough to have made this experience hurt less.

0 out of 5

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Jon Condit

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