Sunday, October 29, 2023

THE LAST ISLAND (1990) (Cult Epics Blu-ray Review)

Label: Cult Epics 
Region Code: Region-Free 
Rating: Unrated 
Duration: 101 Minutes
Audio: English LPCM 2.0 , DTS-HD MA 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Marleen Gorris
Cast: Paul Freeman, Shelagh McLeod, Kenneth Colley, Patricia Hayes, Mark Hembrow, Marc Berman, Ian Tracey

In Marleen Gorris (A Question of Silence) directed The Last Island (1990), her third feature film, a small group of people survive an airplane crash, emerging from the wreckage on a remote island in the South Pacific, only to discover that they may have not only survived the crash but could potentially be the last people left alive on the Earth after some sort of mysterious cataclysmic event. Among the survivors we have gay men Sean (Paul Freeman, Raiders of the Lost Ark) and Frank (Mark Hembrow, Return to Snowy River), militaristic religious zealot Nick (Kenneth Colley, Life of Brian), French amateur naturalist Pierre (Marc Berman); the abrasive Jack (Ian Tracey, Bates Motel); the elderly Mrs. Godame (Patricia Hayes, The Neverending Story) and young woman Joanna (Shelagh McLeod). At first things star out fine as the survivors come together to scrounge for supplies, forage for food, burn the remains of the dead when it becomes apparent that help is not coming soon, and begin to create structures for shelter, and even begin building a raft to escape the island.

Trouble begins to arise when a radio that is salvaged and cobbled together does it not pick up signals or transmissions of any kind, leads to suspicions that perhaps the plane crash was not caused by some malfunction, bad weather, or human error, but by a planet wide catastrophe, and perhaps they are all that's left of the human race. That's when the men of the group, regardless of their sexual, political, religious or social leaning, get all weird, and then set about attempting to convince poor Joanna that she needs to become the willing or unwilling human incubator, the Eve of the new world as it were with most of the men vying for prime Adam spot on that biblical double bill. This is quite an interesting desert island tale, along the lines of Lord of the Flies, but infused with that patented Marleen Gorris feminist slant that adds a new wrinkle to the well-worn tale with some additional +subtext to chew on. When things start to boil over and the social niceties start to dissipate violence erupts, and when it does it's quite shocking, much of it not surprisingly instigated by the one who feels he has the moral and spiritual high ground, but even beyond that it's the toxicity of masculinity that continues to poison the island paradise. This is a nice showcase for Morris  as a director as well, this being a larger production compared to her previous efforts A Question of Silence and Broken Mirrors, it's solidly directed and the island setting is gorgeously shot by cinematographer Marc Felperlaan (Amsterdamned). 

Audio/Video: The Last Island (1990) arrives on region-free Blu-ray from Cult Epics in 1080p HD framed in 1.78:1 widescreen from Cult Epics, sourced from a 2K scan of the only existing English-language 35mm print of the film. The source showcases some filmic blemish by way of speckles, nicks, scrapes and scratches, they're quite evident in spots, but depth, clarity and colors are actually quite nice. Darker scenes are not as refined as something from OCN would have offered but are adequate. Audio comes by way of English LPCM 2.0 Stereo or English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo with optional English subtitles. Both tracks have solid fidelity, there's a bit of source related issues that effect audio levels but nothing that was overly problematic. Sounds of waves, island wildlife, snaps of gunfire, roaring fire and the atmospheric score from Boudewijn Tarenskeen (Looking For Eileen) sound  solid. 

Cult Epics compliment the film with some solid bonus materials starting off with a brief 1-min Introduction by producer Dick Maas; then onto an Audio Commentary by Film Scholar Peter Verstraten that gets heavily into the production of the film, the Trinidad and Tobago locations; the cast and crew, and much more. We also get a 12-min archival Interview with Political Columnist Annemarie Grewel (Cinema 3, 1990) who interviews Morris; 17-min of Behind the Scenes of The Last Island; the 4-min Original Dutch Theatrical Trailer; a Promotional Gallery; and a selection of Cult Epics Trailers. The single disc release arrives in a clear keepcase with a Double-Sided Sleeve of Artwork.
Special Features: 
- 2K HD Transfer (from original 35mm print) & Restoration
- Introduction by producer Dick Maas (1 min) 
- Audio Commentary by Film Scholar Peter Verstraten 
- Interview with Political Columnist Annemarie Grewel (Cinema 3, 1990) (12 min) 
- Behind the Scenes (17 min) 
- Original Dutch Theatrical Trailer (4 min) 
- Promotional Gallery
- Cult Epics Trailers
- Reversible Sleeve of Artwork 

The Last Island (1990) is currently available as a standalone Blu-ray or as part of the Marleen Gorris Trilogy Collection from Cult Epics. 

Screenshots from the Cult Epics Blu-ray: