Monday, May 27, 2019

Battle Of Blood Island!

Battle of Blood Island is a lurid evocative title for a movie which turns out to be a surprisingly subtle character study of two soldiers isolated on a Pacific atoll after surviving a vicious battle with Japanese forces. Even more surprisingly this Roger Corman produced war yarn was based on the Philip Roth short story titled "Expect the Vandals". The movie stars a familiar face in Richard Devon who does the bulk of the work here as a stalwart Jewish soldier named "Moe", and he is joined by a rookie named Ron Kennedy in the role of "Ken".

We have two survivors who must work together despite one having lost the use of his legs as they hide out in a cave, stealing resources from the Japanese troops they are constantly hiding from. The interplay between the two men is mature for the most part and according to director and writer of the screenplay Joel Rapp made heavy use of the original Roth wording. The two men struggle with each other and as time passes seem at times to give in to despair, but the end is a bit of a surprise. All I'll say is it involves a goat.

This movie was the first of what turned out to be three movies financed and in some cases directed by Roger Corman. All have fallen into public domain, but a collection of the three films supplied great insight into how they were made on location in Puerto Rico, all in the typical Corman tiny time frame. Expect to see the other two (Last Woman on Earth and Creature from the Haunted Sea) in the next few days, but I thought this Memorial Day was an ideal time to review a movie about war which focused not on the battles and sweeping campaigns, but what the day is about, the soldiers who fought and all too often died in those wars.

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