“Zombie Isle” is a throwback horror directed by Robert Elkins that embraces the style of early 80’s, late 70’s zombie films and manages a pretty entertaining experience. The film stars Crystal Howell, Jonathan Moody, Apryl Crowell, David S. Witt, Kyle Billeter, Leah Gosnell, Catherine Goodson, Tony Jones, Alyssa Wheaton, and Dewey Collins. The story follows a group of college kids and their professor who set out to explore the flora of a deserted island that mysteriously is uncharted on modern maps. Set in the 70’s “Zombie Isle” captures the classic look and feel of low budget zombie horror films of the era.
The story takes on a pretty basic concept- people enter unknown territory and come face-to-face with the reanimated dead. There is some depth added by the addition of a mad scientist from the Nazi regime that causes the horror in order to harness the power over life and death in the name of the Nazi party. The characters, although two dimensional, seem grounded with some realism, a bit of satire which make it easy to connect with them. The acting is a bit cheesy, but it is intentional. This is an homage to the low budget, poorly acted and much loved cult films of the past. “Zombie Isle” is every bit that and Robert Elkins does a d@mn good job at creating it both in story and visual effects.
The special effects used in “Zombie Isle” are stripped-down practical ones that at times manage to capture the same classic aspects of films like “Zombi”, “Dawn Of The Mummy” and “Zombie Island Massacre”. The zombies are simple, effective creatures that really sell the film’s overall intention to create a gory film on a low budget. There are moments when the effects are flubbed, mostly by showing the practical effect technique or aspect to clearly, giving away the illusion, but for the most part things work. The color effect and 70’s retro effect can be a bit distracting, but the sound effects dissolve any annoyance and really set things right- both atmospherically and suspenseful.
Overall I really enjoyed “Zombie Isle”. At first I just knew I was not going to like this film, that the vision and ability for Elkins to execute it would not mesh. I was pleasantly surprised. What really makes this film enjoyable is the zombie make-up style and creative use of simple practical effects. Plus Elkins doesn’t weigh the film down with a bunch of back story or added dialog. Everything is stripped down, and for the most part effective. There is some moments with the scientist that feels contrived and the ability to control mindless zombies without voodoo is questionable, but for the most part “Zombie Isle” gives us a a fun, entertaining, film.