I have a bit of a fascination with Linda Blair. She was thirteen when she spewed pea soup in The Exorcist, a part that inspired her public image, and destroyed her acting career. A few years later she starred in Roller Boogie and soon after, her most challenging acting roles were in front of drug counselors. Reading her IMDB page is like digging through a VHS bargain bin in the Mid-West.
But, still, whenever I see that baby-face on great legs, I think of how great she could have been. Watch Born Innocent if you don’t believe me.
So, when I saw her getting top billing on the 1985 girls-in-prison exploitation film Savage Island, available for free on Hulu.com, I knew that this movie and I had a date with destiny. And, much like a stripper of the same name, destiny can be a great big tease.
Blair plays Daly, recently escaped from an all-girl South American prison, who emerges from a limousine in an anonymous metropolis, enters a high-rise, shoots Penn Jillette in the head (yes, that Penn Jillette) and holds an over-weight businessman at gunpoint. That businessman is the owner of the emerald mine where inmates from the aforementioned South American prison are forced to work.
Now, I hope you enjoyed that 10-minutes of star-power, because that’s pretty much the last you’re going to get of Linda Blair. From there, we’re taken to the prison to follow the story of Maria, Daly’s agent, who goes undercover in the mine to… well, I’m not entirely sure, but I assume she’s freeing the girls. She digs for emeralds, sweats a lot in a short leather skirt, makes friends with the other inmates and endures bizarre tortures from a small Italian man in a white suit.
And, you’re right, this does sound like a totally different movie… because it is. Apparently, what follows is a pair of Italian exploitation films, stitched together to simulate a story, narrated by the former Regan MacNeil. Unfortunately, the two films they used didn’t share entirely the same cast, so characters are portrayed by multiple people.
You see, Savage Island is not a Linda Blair movie. Savage Island is a hodge-podge of late-seventies jungle films, with an introduction/narration by a “name actress.” Think of it as a boob-laden episode of Night Gallery, with Linda Blair as Rod Serling in a fur coat.
We spend about an hour watching this spaghetti mash-up, as our heroes infiltrate the all-girl emerald mining camp, get in some catfights, seduce some guards, take a shower, do some skinny dipping, and have a big, dusty, topless gun-fight.
And, all the while, I was thinking… I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen this many real breasts on my television! I mean, we’re a decade into this millennium, and between scream queens, weather girls, VH-1 and “Jersey Shore,” not to mention the occasional clandestine DVD, many a mammary gland has graced my screen, and I’d forgotten what a god-made breast looked like in two dimensions!
In the end, I watched Savage Island with a bizarre mix of childish wonder and anatomical curiosity. I felt like I was fourteen, finger poised on the POWER button, just in case my mom were to burst into the room. This movie was like a time capsule of natural cleavage and ungroomed pubic hair.
Still, at only 74-minutes, it all got so boring, I’ve no idea how it ended.
According to the “always reliable” IMDB trivia page, Linda Blair had insisted that her name not be above the title, so as not to deceive her fans, since her work in the film is essentially a cameo. Well, I was sufficiently deceived, and disappointed. But, then, I own Exorcist II: The Heretic, so it’s a sensation I’m familiar with.