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(aka "Knuckle-Men" )

 

directed by Stephanie Rothman
USA 1973

 

With the death penalty abolished, the US government has decided to "dump their garbage" on a remote island with no guards or supervision (the perimeter is lined with landmines). Convicted murderers are declared legally dead and exiled to the San Bruno Detention Facility aka "Terminal Island" (actually Pirate's Cove, California). Carmen Simms (Ena Hartman, OUR MAN FLINT) is the latest inmate after having her appeal overturned. Carmen is pretty much a deserted island castaway (stumbling across washed up bodies of unsuccessful escapees while gathering firewood and being watched from above). She makes her way to the main camp and is immediately brutalized by the men. She discovers that she and the few other women - including bank bomber Lee (Marta Kristen, BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS), patricidal mute Bunny (Barbara Leigh, STUDENT NURSES), and spouse killer Joy (Phyllis Davis, BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS) - are to serve as labor as well as sex slaves for Bobby (Sean Kenney, THE TOY BOX), who killed his partner after a $2 million heist, and the rest of the camp. Carmen resolves right away to break out and get back at Bobby and Monk. Fortunately, cop killer A.J. (Don Marshall, THE THING WITH TWO HEADS) and his roving rival group lead a raid and the women escape with them. While A.J. and his men fight hand-to-hand (or knife-to-face in some instances), Lee, Carmen, and mercy killer Dr. Milford (Tom Selleck) fashion makeshift grenades and curare darts. Meanwhile, Bobby and his men ambush a supply boat and get their hands on some weapons but A.J. get their hands on the boat's gasoline canisters. Also on the island are pretty-boy Chino (Geoffrey Deuel, CHISUM), redneck Easy (Randy Boone, cousin of Pat), rapist Dylan (Clyde Ventura, 'GATOR BAIT), maniac Teale (Frank Christi, THE DON IS DEAD), and Monk (Roger E. Mosley, who later became a regular on Selleck's series MAGNUM P.I.). The Johnny Cash-esque theme song gets things off to an odd start, the film becomes an odd variation on the "women in prison" pics (the lengthy opening talking heads/news story setup is soon forgotten). In place of the nude shower scene is a bit of skinny-dipping by Joy, which ends badly (and hilariously) for her would-be rapist. Most of the characters are likable (they are determined to make the island a better place and wouldn't go back to the mainland even if they could) while the villains are satisfyingly and effectively vile (Bobby taunts the mute Bunny by saying she only has to "speak up" if he does something she doesn't like). The explosive final ten minutes are riveting and the coda is optimistic. TERMINAL ISLAND doesn't fail to deliver in violence, explosions, and sleazy nudity. Obscure director Rothman (who previously directed the intriguing but uneven THE VELVET VAMPIRE) was the only female director to come out of producer Roger Corman's Filmgroup stable (which also included Jack Hill and Francis Ford Coppola who, along with Rothman, had all been involved at different times in the transformation of Slavic thriller OPERATION TITIAN into a more marketable drive-in chiller, spawning three different films using the same footage mixed with new material). When Rothman split with Corman, she joined rival exploitation company Dimension Pictures (run by the Woolner brothers) which also brought us CHEERLEADERS WILD WEEKEND, KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS, and THE REDEEMER: SON OF SATAN, among others. James Whitworth (the hulking patriarch of the original THE HILLS HAVE EYES' cannibal clan) also appears.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: June 1973 (USA)

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DVD Review: Code Red - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Code Red

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:27:45
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.18 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Code Red

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary with Sean Kenney and Don Marshall, moderated by Scott Spiegel and Bill Olsen
• TERMINALLY DEAD interview with Sean Kenney (4:3; 27:06)
• LEGALLY DEAD interview with Don Marshall (4:3; 24:14)
• Telephone Interview with Phyllis Davis (5:25)
• Theatrical Trailer (4:3; 2:36)
• Trailers for GROUP MARRIAGE (4:3; 2:29), THE WORKING GIRLS (4:3; 2:00), HORROR HIGH (16:9; 2:18),
• DR. BLACK AND MR. HYDE (4:3; 2:21), THE BLACK KLANSMAN (16:9; 0:41), STIGMA (16:9; 1:29), and
• MEAN JOHNNY BARROWS (4:3; 1:43)

DVD Release Date: September 14th, 2010
Amaray

Chapters 14

 

Comments

Although newly transferred, the DVD encoding is interlaced. The colors are strong (the color scheme throughout is rather muted). There are infrequent spots and scratches (a momentary bit where the image appears to become suddenly faded actually appears to be the sun peaking through the clouds after the exposure had been adjusted for the overcast daylight) but the print source looks much better than some other Dimension Pictures titles. Mono audio is strong and clear.

Two of the male stars, Sean Kenney and Don Marshall, provide an entertaining (though not very enlightening) audio commentary as well as separate roughly half-hour each interviews. Co-star Phyllis Davis is also briefly interviewed by telephone. The theatrical trailer (as seen on several other Code Red releases) is sourced from a poor VHS recording (which in no way represents the feature transfer). TERMINAL ISLAND was one of three forthcoming Rothman films (although it was the only one whose transfer she did not supervise), the trailers of which appear as extras (amid trailers for other upcoming Code Red titles). Other unauthorized DVD releases of this film have been sourced from the cut TV print.

  - Eric Cotenas

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Code Red

Region 0 - NTSC

 

 




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