Battle of Blood Island

Battle of Blood Island

War, Drama | 64 Mins | Released: 1960
Director: Joel Rapp
Starring: Richard Devon, Ron Gans, Roger Corman
Our Rating: 5
Black & White

Two American GIs are the only survivors of a unit wiped out in a battle with Japanese troops on an isolated island. The two, who don’t like each other, find try to put aside their differences in order to evade the Japanese and survive.

Movie Notes:

Battle of Blood Island is a 1960 American World War II war film filmed in Puerto Rico.

It was directed by Joel Rapp and based on the 1958 short story Expect the Vandals by Philip Roth.

Filmgroup released the film as a double feature with Ski Troop Attack.

Roger Corman appears at the end of the movie as an American soldier.

Roger Corman put up $31,129.31 of the budget with $14,000 provided by Stan Bickman and Joel Rapp.

The movie was shot in Puerto Rico at the same time as two other Corman productions, Last Woman on Earth and Creature from the Haunted Sea.

Corman later said, “it turned out very nicely; it was a good little picture”.

Did you like Roger Corman’s direction in this movie?  He also directed Jack Nicholson in Little Shop of Horrors in 1960 and you can see it on MovieZoot here.

Despite some ragged edges here and there, the film still manages to entertain.
planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida – 17 April 2010
This film and “Shell Shock” have been packaged together by Something Weird Video. Both are ultra-low budget WWII films that were made during the post-war period. However, unlike the wretched and extremely boring “Shell Shock”, “Battle of Blood Island” manages to be entertaining despite its many shortcomings.
The biggest problem with the film is probably the title. There really isn’t any battle–at least not that you’ll see in this action-less action picture. When the story begins, a small group of US Marines have already been killed as they were trying to take this small Pacific island (though the film was actually made in Puerto Rico). Two manage to survive…but one just barely. The healthy guy saves the wounded one and they hide from the tiny occupying Japanese force through the first half of the film. Then, a very odd thing happens. When the two soldiers have mustered up the nerve to attack the dozen or so occupants, just before they do so, the Japanese soldiers obligingly kill themselves–apparently they just found out they lost the war and decided to commit mass suicide. Now the two men realize that although they will indeed survive, perhaps no one will ever come to rescue them–after all, the island is small and the Americans probably assumed the entire unit was wiped out in the earlier attack. This is a pretty novel idea and without a working radio, I am sure there must have been a few cases like this at the end of the war.
The relationship between the two men makes up an interesting second half of the film. I especially was intrigued by what I thought was a gay subtext late in the film when the one healthy guy did NOT try to communicate with the American ships passing by–making you wonder if he really liked the idea of spending the rest of his life with the other man! But, sadly, the film didn’t really follow up on this….making you wonder WHY the healthy guy didn’t try to signal the ship. A gay love interest seems to be the only answer. But, despite this, the film still is different and pretty well acted.
By the way, the ending was only okay. I predicted that the island would be Bikini or some other island used for nuclear testing because goats and other livestock were released on the islands to see the effects of the bomb on them (that’s kind of sad, huh?). But, I think they missed their chance for a great twist ending. When the healthy guy was finally discovered by the soldiers who were rounding up the goats and pigs, wouldn’t have been wild if at that point it turned out there really WAS only one survivor on the island and the sick guy had died long before and was only now a figment of the other man’s imagination? This “Twilight Zone” ending would have improved the film considerably–especially since the ending otherwise didn’t make complete sense. Still, it’s well worth a look.
By the way, the film really blew it with the toucan. This bird lives ONLY around the Caribbean as well as Central and South America–not the Pacific. And, for that matter, they cannot talk like a parrot of mynah bird. Oops.

not what you might expect, but not bad
asinyne from United States – 10 April 2011
I definitely liked this film more than the other reviewers. Yeah, the battle at the beginning was badly staged and kind of goofy. If the marines fought anything like those guys we would have never won any war period. Afterward, though I really enjoyed what essentially became a tale of survival on a deserted island. Think Castaway here. One of the soldiers is badly injured and depends on the other for almost every single thing he needs. This puts a lot of stress on Moe who is pretty darn high strung anyhow. Basically, you have one physically incomplete person and one mentally incomplete person somehow struggling through all their issues while wondering if they’re ever gonna see civilization again or simply die in the middle of nowhere.
This is more of a psychological film as opposed to the typical war film. Yeah, there is lots of fighting and killing but what happens internally to the two stranded GIs is what the movie is all about. I found that it kept my interest very well indeed and wish I could have given it a 7 and a half. The actor playing Moe was really good and his face is pretty recognizable. He played lots of heavies and gangsters back in the sixties.