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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Island of Lost Souls (1974) is a Mexican Exploitation film following,
not very successfully I might add, in the footsteps of the superb,
Papillon (1973). Basically it is a poor man's version of an island
convict escape attempt but there's really no big escape to set the
It's composed of vignettes and forced labor scenes and a beginning story that is blatantly absurd.
René Cardona Sr, who was an in-house Mexican Director, along with his son, did the film. Together they produced, directed and distributed numerous low-budget Exploitation films that weren't very good but are noted for having burnt out Hollywood actors and exotic themes (Guyana: Crime of the Century (1979), Carlos the Terrorist (1979), Cyclone (1978), The Bermuda Triangle (1978), ¡Tintorera! Tiger Shark (1977)).
It's padded by mundane scenes, that are most of the time, boring and don't add any drama. A hilarious escape scene includes a convict trying to make a swim for it against the wave current with a dead Pelican hat in full view of the guards. He's blown to bits by a fused dynamite (how it stayed lit in water we never know).
What's lacking is any concern for the main character, who is an annoying 40 year old "young man" who was wronged by a lascivious land owner. He disappears for most of the film and it takes a turn for the bizarre when the General goes mad and declares the prison a "free republic" but threatens to cut off the gonads of anyone attempting an escape. He faces a modern 1960's ship (notice radar) with an 1865 cannon in another unintentional comic scene. Guess who wins?
It's based on a novel, the author, whom I surmise was stuck on "Devil's Island" -- Islas Marías Federal Prison (Built in 1905), Islas Marías (an archipelago of four islands that belong to Mexico).
In all, there's not much here but see it if you have to at least for the laughable scenes and tinted color of the film stock.
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