Scene 40: In the meantime, Fernando returns toward the plantation through the ceremonial grounds. Priest and Clarita [who may also be Priestess but I just can’t go back and look] stare at him. They share a hard stare with one another and Priest goes to the hut and “activates” the zombie crew.
Scene 41: In the lab, Tom and Jeannie find her father and a lab assistant working with a cobra. The snake is milked of it’s venom and force fed with a tube. This is repeated with another type of snake.
As they watch, the doctor subjects the snake venom collected to radiation.
Scene 42: The Doctor exits to another room outside of Tom and Jeannie’s view. In this room, there are three more zombies lying on exam beds. Assistants help Doctor Biladeau with injections of the irradiated venom and take meticulous notes.
After an injection, a patient undergoes zombification and we see his eyes form through is closed eyelids! The doctor nods his satisfaction and leaves the help to it.
Commentary: So, the make up effects are again an issue because of the prolonged close-ups of it. And the time-lapse alteration is more clunky than similar in The Wolf Man so it’s a bit too obviously done. But the eyes forming over and then replacing the eyelids was a really creeptastic touch and I dug that, even though the actual make up effects are a bit dodgy in close up.
Scene 43: Having returned to the radiation portion of the lab, August is shocked to see Tom and Jeannie standing on the other side of a window watching him. He confronts her about showing up in the lab after he left strict instructions that she was never to come there.
Jeannie tells her father not to be angry as they’ve come to ask him to leave the island, which Jeannie says her father has been wanting for awhile now and his chance has finally come. August looks a bit angry for somebody being offered something he wanted.
August orders Jeannie to return to the house and go to her room. She’s puzzled by his reaction but he shouts at her to do as she’s told and slaps her across the face. To Tom and Jeannie’s shocked reactions, he deflates and tells them it’s too late for him to leave. He asks Tom to get his daughter off the island immediately, but he won’t explain what he’s been up to or why he can’t leave with them.
Tom drags the protesting Jeannie away, warning that they need to go or they’ll miss the tide [WAIT… WHAT TIDE!? The plane is on the beach and the beach is within walking distance of the great house. What?? Are you talking about that lake? Was that some sort of cove, and is it supposed to be large enough to have high and low tides for boat access? I’m confused. Or does he mean that they landed at low tide and the beach won’t be clear for the plane to take off if there is a high tide?].
Scene 44: Tom and Jeannie make it back up the lab stairs with August staying at the lab with a look of defeat and resignation to whatever fate he thinks is in store for him.
Outside the lab door however, zombies await. Jeannie’s scream of alarm saves Tom from being bashed over the back of the head. He fires into the zombie’s torso which knocks him back a step but is otherwise not effective. He and Jeannie rush off through the jungle.
Scene 45: They run to the beach, where the Fairchilds and Enrique wait. The men struggle with getting the plane positioned. But the zombies are on their trail with the Priest. The women are nabbed, screaming but the men SOMEHOW don’t hear Coral’s braying screech.
The Priest then sends a zombie with a box of explosives toward the plane. Enrique in working on powering up the engines but yells at Tom to watch it. He responds by trying another gunshot. It fails also.
Poor Enrique doesn’t leave the plane even though Tom Harris runs for it when his gun is a dud. He’s killed when the suicide-bomber zombie detonates the plane. Duncan and Tom try to run for it, but they’re confronted by natives. They don’t even wonder where the girls went to [but this is possibly due to a missing frames jump-cut].
Scene 46: Tom and Dunc race down the beach as the native voodoo followers chase. They lead them deeper into the jungle along a horribly obviously well-beaten road, which doesn’t seem especially helpful for trying to shake off their pursuers.
Chase, Chase, Climb, Stumble, Chase, Chase.
Among the chasers are more zombies who aren’t required to slowly walk menacingly after all but are quite capable of energetic rushing when ordered to.
Eventually, they’re cornered on a hillside and have to take a chance on diving into the lake/ocean inlet to escape. The zombies, followers and Priest don’t follow.
Scene 47: Sometime later, Fernando has been captured and brought before the WitchDoctor for punishment. The Irradiated Venom is brought out by the Priest. Despite his begging, he’s injected in the back of the neck and transformed.
Scene 48: With this done, the WitchDoctor and Priest return to the ceremonial grounds where another ritual is already in progress [And yes - that is Clarita who is acting as the Priestess].
Bound to a wall is a yelling Coral, while Jeannie has been laid out on a table and obviously drugged into a trance.
Scene 49: Over with Tom and Duncan, they swim through the inlet toward a boat moored and guarded. Duncan whispers about the boat not having been there before, but Tom shushes him. They manage to not-at-all-quietly swim to the boat’s rear.
The guard notices a bit too late and positions himself to bash Tom in the head. He grabs the rifle and yanks the guard into the water. He hits the dude in the head presumably stunning him and then THROWS AWAY THE RIFLE!
He and Dunc climb aboard.
[And just at the edge of the camera’s view, we see the water disturbed as supposed-to-be-drowned henchman swims off… oops.]
Tom grabs a flare gun, not knowing what to do with it, but stating to Duncan it’s better than nothing [uh, not better than the rifle you threw away into the water… which goes unmentioned]. The two return to land.
Scene 50: As they rush back toward wherever they’re planning on going, they come across a hidden door in another bunker. They enter to see where it leads.
Scene 51: In the meantime, the sacrificial ritual goes on. A chicken’s blood is drained into a bowl and Priestess Clarita sprinkles the participants as they continue to jerky-limb dance and whirl in religious ecstasy.
Scene 52: Tom and Duncan find their way to the lab stairs which is nearby to the ceremonial grounds suddenly. Tom remembers the side room has garb to disguise them so they can infiltrate the ceremony and get to the girls-in-peril.
For some reason, they don’t visit Dr. Biladeau to gain his help in rescuing his own daughter… or even mention it as a possibility. In fact, Duncan doesn’t even ask about the secret lab that they must’ve passed by on their way to the staircase.
Scene 53: As it turns out, trying to contact August would’ve been a waste of time anyway. He’s actually stalking the ceremony himself currently. He spots his entranced daughter.
Scene 54: Tom and Duncan infiltrate the gathering. After more enthusiastic and orgasmic dancing, WitchDoctor stands up with his machete over Jeannie as she waits. Spotting this, Tom drops a flare into the campfire.
WitchDoctor sets himself to behead Jeanette. But August isn’t about to let that happen. He throws a dagger from the jungle which catches WitchDoctor through the abdomen. At the same time, Tom’s flare has heated enough to ignite.
WitchDoctor collapses from his wound and his mask flies off revealing the identity [since it isn’t August]: Mr. Bentley.
The interruption of the ceremony causes chaos among the practitioners allowing Duncan to go after his wife, while Tom scoops up the unresponsive Jeannie.
Scene 55: While the Fairchilds and company flee, including August, Priest discovers the now dead WitchDoctor. He goes in chase, while our quarry retreats to the hidden bunker lab.
For some reason, there is a bar that can be slid over the door, that the doctor never bothered using before when he was trying to keep people like his daughter from following him into the lab. Our practitioners try to break it down, while our group continues fleeing downward.
Scene 56: Our group continues through the lab into the treatment clinic. In the meantime, August sets up the radiation chamber to overheat and explode.
Scene 57: As our group makes it around to the other side of the tunnel, the Priest and his followers make it through the barred door.
Scene 58: The gang make it to the boat. But oh noes! It won’t start!
For some reason, the warning alarm continues to be heard outside even though we don’t seen any hint of loud speakers.
Scene 59: Our natives make it through the tunnel and labs as well and rush for the escaping boat. Meanwhile Tom fiddles with the engines.
Scene 60: As he attempts to get the boat started again, the natives get a few men aboard with daggers and attempt to kill our escapees. Tom is able to get the boat into throttle before anymore can make it aboard.
Scene 61: Duncan is able to punch his attacker overboard. August isn’t so lucky and takes a dagger through the back. With Jeannie now out from under the trance, she screams for her father which alerts Tom. He spins and fires a flare into the follower’s abdomen.
The attacker goes overboard.
Scene 62: On the boat, August writhes in pain. Jeannie calls for Tom, who hands control of the boat over to Duncan.
Scene 63: Back in the lab, the radiation chamber explodes, taking the entire island out in a grand explosion and killing everyone on it -- even the presumably innocent plantation workers and security personnel of Lord Carrington’s.
Commentary: Yeah, okay -- this effect was pretty much crap being a model on a budget. It’s unfortunate and again, too much time is spent watching it on screen so the illusion isn’t even attempting to trick us. It is quite unfortunate that this wasn’t simply left to be implied.
Scene 64: On the boat, August makes his final confession of using illegal human experiments when his work on lab animals weren’t leading to results. Despite the utter failure of his experiments to do anything to eradicate cancer, he didn’t let that stop him until three natives were dead.
But by that time, Bentley had stumbled onto the side effects of the venom on the body tissues of the experimental subjects and their will-less state. He became obsessed with the idea of the doctor creating an army of subservient zombies. He blackmailed Biladeau into continuing his experiments to perfect the zombification process.
Finally, Charles’ madness drove him to think that if he killed Jeannie, it would give a reason for August to never leave the island. He’s about to ask Tom something, but dies instead.
Scene 65: Sometime later, everyone is back on Miami Beach at poolside. Tom is back to entertaining women with his tales of forbidden passion. He’s joined by Jeannie who is angered by his flirtations with the bevy of beauties listening to him in rapt attention.
He gets shoved into the pool. But she jumps in after him with a laugh and they kiss. They frolic in the pool, apparently very much in love, as of course they must.
The Good: Although I found his character to be problematic, I found myself really liking William Joyce for his sense of humor and charm. I also enjoyed the acting job of Dan Stapleton.
A nice touch is that the tertiary characters actually get names and they're used by the main cast rather than relegated to background decoration.
I did like the transition scene in which the zombie eyes appear to "grow" in place of the victim's regular eyes right through their eyelids. That is creepy.
The Bad: The slapstick with the pool wasn't amusing enough for the time we spend on it.
Yeah, the zombie make up effects just don't work and it's made all the worse by the fact that the director keeps the camera on them in bright light letting you see how much it's not working.
Day for Night.
The sudden suspicion of Tom that something devious is going on and the household staff are part of it is very poorly set up and seems like Tom is grasping at a conspiracy with zero reason.
Obvs the sudden romance for Tom and Jeannie feels pro-forma and the idea that Jeannie has her happy-ever-after at the end seems... unlikely.
Other Thoughts: The dance sections of the movie do go on a bit long to eat up run time, which is never welcomed, but I want to give props to the Priest actor who both really knows his moves and has a wonderful baritone voice when he's chant-singing.
The movie bookends on Tom acting like a horndog for the ladies but under two different circumstances and I liked that. The opening set up, though, does go on much too long.
There are a few problems that I can look past, but they're there. For instance, Tom's quick dry clothing, the bloodless beheading and the fact that the tunnel system's layout is really poorly defined. I also was annoyed by the sudden and inexplicable boat just suddenly being right where the good guy's needed it without any set-up of why it's there and who it might belong to.
I'm not going to put it in The Bad, but Heather Hewitt was definitely the weakest actor on set and it's apparent anytime she needs to do more than smile coyly or kiss her co-star.
It annoys me that they have our irradiated-venom zombies immune to gunfire but never even ask the question about how that would work. Tom never asks the doctor how they're able to shrug off bullets perforating them when they're not undead and Biladeau never bothers to bring up any super-powers during his confessional.
I really liked the opening theme music but I can't place it in the good because of the number of times it gets used. Likewise, I can't put the repetitive theme in The Bad, because it's a good theme song. It's just used way too much to fill soundtrack space.
Trying to force William Joyce into the role of a James Bond-style charmer and sex god was poorly thought out. Not that he isn't handsome, but he spends so much time being shirtless and schmoozing that it comes across as trying way too hard to make him a sex symbol when he's a bit too old for that sort of thing without a Sean Connery-style charisma... and he doesn't have that.
I don't like the denouement much because it leaves too many things open, mostly in relation to the native population. Why were they enticed to follow the leadership of Bentley when he's turning them into zombies? What was the Priest and Clarita getting out of this? What the hell was Lord Carrington's role when obviously he's been getting such disturbing tales of sacrifices being carried out on his island? If Jeannie makes trips off island, why wouldn't August ever warn her not to return and hint at the danger he's in due to the power trip of Bentley? In fact, why didn't August ever waylay Bentley in his lab and kill him? And why would the lab assistants be under Bentley's control -- what were they getting out of their illegal experiments?
The Score: The film is not nearly as bad as the IMDB score made me fear it would be. In fact, I found it to be painless to watch, with some charismatic actors, some amusing dialog and a decent story to tell. There were some issues with the budget and some character problems, but this isn't a bad movie to watch at all.
3.25 out of 5 stars
next review: The Walking Dead's "Cherokee Rose"