Granted, its by all technical standards a horrible film. But it's certainly of the good-bad quality. It is fast-paced and with enough over-the-top acting to sustain its length. At the forefront of the film is Bruce Bennet, who seems to have no understanding of the term "subtleness". His performance is among the most hammy I've ever seen but is also one of the funniest. This and other factors make "Fiend of Dope Island" an enjoyable b-flicker.
The plot concerns Charlie Davis (played by Bennet), a psychotic whip-cracking maniac who has conquered an island somewhere in the Caribbean. He forces the natives to grow the "assasin of youth", the dreaded drug "marijuana". The natives are not content with his rule however and even his partners seem to be on the verge of mutiny. Charlie decides to order a burlesque dancer to entertain him nightly to make the long days go by a little faster. When she gets on the island, she stirs everyone around Charlie into revolt against him.
As I said above, the film has no redeeming qualities artistically. That wasn't the point however. The point of these films was to show violence and sexual content. The anti-drug message is merely a facade for the true intentions. What makes the film worthwhile is the performance of Bennet as Charlie. His performance is hilarious as he often reads lines so quickly (probably for a madman affect) that they're usually unintelligible. Plus hes a good a bongo player! Bennet was a decently competent actor, as shown in "The Treasure of the Seirra Madre". This was probably just another paycheck for him, so he really didn't try too hard.
Another plus for the film is the "Yugoslavian Bombshell" Tania Velia as the dancer sent to entertain him. Granted, she can't act worth a lick, but she sure looks good in a swimsuit. The film's trailer played her up to be the next Marilyn Monroe, but seeing as how this was her last film role, that prediction never really came to play. Legendary supporting actor Robert Bray is obviously bored to death with his role of David, the hero who leads the revolt. I suspect that, like Bennet, this was just a means to support himself. He shows little to no effort or charisma in this role. I didn't expect a stirring performance, but at least a hammy one like Bennet.
If you're a fan of tiki-related camp like I am, this will be an enjoyable way to kill a rainy day. Worth a rental at least. Rock 'n' roll greats The Cramps named one of their albums after this film. (4/10)
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?