Terminal Island (1973)

Tom Selleck, Roger Mosely and Phyllis Davis star in Magnu…erm TERMINAL ISLAND.  Directed by Corman protege Stephanie Rothman.  The cast is filled out by familiar faces (among other things…)  Don Marshall, Sean Kenney and Barbara Leigh.

Forty miles off the coast lies San Bruno Maximum Security Detention Center, or Terminal Island.  It is home to convicted murderers after the suspension of the death penalty.  The local newscast is trying to put together a story about some of the criminals incarcerated on the island and the newest inmate to be added to the gallery of murderers and rapists.  Don’t get too hung up on the urban newsroom setting this is quickly dumped for a backwoods action-like women in prison style in a hot minute.  

As it turns out, the state in fact still enforces the death penalty without killing a person by capital punishment.  They do this by having each inmate is forced to sign a form declaring themselves legally dead and, ironically enough, given a copy.  Bureaucracy sucks!  New inmates are also greeted with bodies roiling n the surf at the beachhead leaving no doubts in the minds of the new arrivals at what awaits them.

Interesting introductions: Tom Selleck shows up snorting some natural nose candy.  He is a doctor who was convicted of performing a mercy killing.  One question I have is how does a whole island of convicts know when someone is being brought to the island?  Early on there is a knife fight between a scrawny dude and someone who looks like a hulked out Tom Savini on ‘roids.  As it turns out this is the hulking James Whitworth aka Papa Jupiter.  TC is a bastard enforcer for Bobby.  Glad he and Magnum hit it off later.  

The main camp is headed up by Bobby and Monk (Kenney and Mosely) and kill or be killed is the law of the land.  A.J. (Marshall) leads up a smaller group who try to make life a bit better for their members without fear of total anarchy–his group allows for a modicum of the social contract.  The groups are fairly easily distinguished because most of the “good” guys wear everyday items like coats, or buckskin or something similar along with their prison issue blue shirt and jeans.  The smaller group liberates the women folk from the clutches of the brutal and bat shit crazy Bobby.  They begin to plan not only for their own survival but the removal of Bobby from the other group.  The vast majority of the smaller band are likable and Dr. Selleck soon joins them.

All out war breaks out between the two bands of murderers with the women falling in and supporting A.J.  Bobby makes a daring raid on the supply ship and grabs the weaponry from the guards bodies.  Bobby is finally brought down after most of the convicts have slain each other.  Some dying the most ignorance ridden gawking deaths imaginable.  Cornell comes to mind… The final battle is a spectacle to behold.

Rothman manages to make a women in prison flick full of the requisite sleazy attitudes and gratuitous nudity yet she also injecst a surprising amount of feminism in it.  These women are subjugated, enslaved, raped, tortured and killed yet they come back strong kicking ass in a male dominated micro-society.  Though this is the case don’t think there are no cringe inducing moments of over the top violence being unleashed on these babes…because there is and its insane.  

Some of the (more) fucked up things include the flogging of a mute rape doll who is earlier told she doesn’t have to do anything she doesn’t want to if she will “just say the word.”  The strangling and hand grenading of a guy on the shitter followed by the witty repartee “He just took his last crap.”  No one coming to find the missing boat with the three missing law enforcement officials is also mind-boggling.  This whole movie is full of moments that leave the viewer asking what the fuck? Kind of like that ass picture sitting up there.  And this picture down here.


I saw this on the Code Red release which has gone through a repressing and is available direct from the publisher here.

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