Savage Island (1985)
(Author’s note: Although I strive to “mix it up” genre-wise and just covered an Eighties female actioner last go-round, my enthusiasm over a brand new discovery that recently entered the On Demand cable TV rotation prompted this exception.)
Which former child star went to prison more often that the rest? I’ll put my money on Linda Blair, who seemed to find herself constantly bouncing out of one harsh cinematic prison and directly into another, for a stretch there. (Get it: prison…stretch? Oh, shut up.)
Yep, the world’s most famous exorcism recipient was so often cast as a victim of gross brutality as she matured into womanhood, it began to raise some serious questions about producers’ twisted personal fantasies. Maybe these guys were having very impure thoughts when fourteen-year-old Linda writhed on the bed channeling Lucifer? Don’t know, but it’s all quite creepy.
<---Linda Blair, forever jail bait.
Ms. Blair’s tour of the penal system began the year after The Exorcist, with 1974’s Born Innocent, wherein the teen was sent to juvie hall and, among other indignities, was violated with a broomstick--and this was a made-for-TV movie! She also did time in Chained Heat (1983), Red Heat (1985) and Nightforce (1985), after being held hostage by loony-bin escapee Martin Sheen in Sweet Hostage (1975). Completing her 1985 troika of triumphs was Linda’s crowing achievement, Savage Island.
What could be better than a dank stockade stuffed with Hollywood starlets continually needing to shower their flawless bodies that are magically bereft of leg and armpit hair despite the lack of grooming equipment? A jungle prison full of Euro babes (who take l-o-n-g outdoor showers and hilariously mime lathering themselves despite none possessing a single bar of soap), with the gals escaping, so they can strike even more sweat-glistening poses and regularly fall out of their clothing--PLUS a role for Linda Blair!
Following in the path of junkfilm giant Jerry Warren (Frankenstein Island)--who lost no sleep over once pasting large portions of a 1959 Mexican and an 1946 Chilean film onto his 1965 “new” American release--the braintrust behind Savage Island took the 1979 shot-in-Spain film Escape From Hell and added a prologue and epilogue featuring Blair, in order to have a famous name to throw on the marquee and lure unsuspecting marks into the theater to see a movie that was a half-dozen years old. P.T. Barnum would have been so proud.
As you likely surmised, lively Linda is not in any of the footage filmed in the tropics. Ah, but we learn in her first scene that she once was a prisoner there, and that’s good enough for us. And whom is she holding at gunpoint while enlightening the audience about her past and how the hard labor being performed by captives is actually emerald-mining? That would be the evil mastermind behind the entire operation, Leon Asker, who many will recognize as Gen. Burkhalter, Kolonel Klink’s kommandant on Hogan’s Heroes.
(I guess “oversaw concentration camp” on his resume was just the ticket needed to land the glamorous position. Monster.com was a lot laxer in those days.)
Leon Asker is shocked to discover nudity has crept into a M-O-M review--
Meanwhile, back in the jungle…we have all the vital ingredients needed for a top-quality Janes-in-jail pic, right down to the all-important cruel female matron who is 100-percent horny. But in a neat twist, some of the men on the island are in league with the captivating captives, aiding in the escape so they can swipe the precious stones for themselves.
Critters, quicksand and pursuing armed guards make that skedaddle extremely treacherous for the scooting senoritas and their scant wardrobes. In fact, one leading lady who earlier made an effort to conceal her braless bosom seems resigned to the fact that the physical rigor of the escape somehow makes it impossible to keep her bare boobs in her blouse, and consequently devotes no further effort to keeping ‘em covered throughout the latter portion of the jaunt. My marriage proposal is in the mail.
However, as endearing as the darling’s decision to trek topless is, it’s a distant second in the Wonderfully Gratuitous Flesh Flash sweepstakes. The gold medal here goes to an early scene when “the new girl” is being introduced to her cellies and two alphas come to blows as they attempt to demonstrate who’s the dominant dame. After an exchange of fighting words, the stacked blonde springs at her foe…and evidently is such a remarkable athlete, she has jumped clean out of her clothing en route to her rival and is commencing to brawl in the buff!!!
Seated, clothed; standing, naked; no visible pause to undress, just suddenly nude. And for no particular reason beyond viewer titillation. Now that’s gratuitous; and although the fracas itself is otherwise typical, this fantastically absurd wrinkle ranks it right up there with the jigglerific stripper tussle in The Brain That Wouldn’t Die for Best Catfight Ever consideration.
The pleasant surprises don’t end there. You see, Savage Island has a little secret bound to blow the (closed) minds of uber-macho strutters: One of the girls they have been slobbering over for the past hour-plus used to be one of the boys (i.e. is a post-op transsexual.) Best fun: Inform such a loser about the sex-change bombshell after asking his thoughts on how hot the cast is, then notify the other knuckle-draggers at his hunting lodge that Tony Testosterone admitted popping boners over a she-male.
Don’t get me wrong. Although there’s exposed epidermis all over the joint, Savage Island is more than just another skin show disguised as an action movie. I’m never interested in giving away the whole works before a reader has had a chance to view the flick, but will say this: With all that outdoor footage, it’s got to be the sunniest damn prison pic you’ve ever seen--and you’d be amazed by how that affects perception, our minds having been programmed by atypical dreary TV and movie penitentiary capers.
“Oh, dear, Lucia got eaten by a tiger…but she got a lovely day for it."
I mean, where else do you find incarcerated women with tan lines?!?
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