Blu Release – 3/5
Female Mercenaries on Zombie Island
Director – Gary Whitson (Abducted!, Sleepover Massacre)
Starring – Tina Krause (Bloodletting, Camp Blood 666), Pamela Sutch (Paranormal Captivity, Day of the Ax), and Laura Giglio (Deep Undead, Cannibal Sacrifice)
Release Date – 1995
Rating – 1/5
Tagline – “In the year 2008 women control the zombie force…”
W.A.V.E. Productions is iconic among indie horror fans especially those that lived through the 90s and early 00s. However, I was fairly unfamiliar with them until I watched the documentary Mail Order Murder: The Story of W.A.V.E. Productions. Since then Saturn’s Core and a handful of other boutique labels has released some of their films on blu.
One such company, Camp Motion Pictures, recently released the Female Mercenaries on Zombie Island Collection on blu which included the 1995 film Female Mercenaries on Zombie Island along with it’s sequel Female Mercenaries 2: The Mad Doctor of Zombie Island. This release also included a couple shorts. I was very interested in this release so I reached out to my friends at MVD and they were kind enough to send a review copy my way. I had never seen any of these films so I started with title flick. Thanks MVD for hooking me up with this!
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows an evil female doctor who has been experimenting with brain transplants. She is working with the older male leaders of the world and is going to transplant their brains into younger bodies. However, she is manipulating them and is including a brain control device so she will have total control of them. She has also created a drug that turns the other men into cannibalistic mutants. The only thing standing in her way is two women who refuse to let her control what is left of the world. **Spoiler Alert**
I don’t expect to find a film that will immediately leave a lasting impression on me when I toss in a W.A.V.E. flick, however, I do expect some cheesy and sleazy fun. Female Mercenaries looked like it could deliver both of those but it missed the mark. It was sloppy, chaotic, and the story was stretched so thin that it was damn near impossible to finish. I hate being so negative about a film but there is very little, if any, positive aspects to this flick.
The acting in this one is extremely lazy and just as chaotic as the rest of the film. The cast awkwardly delivers their dialogue and they have no real commitment to their roles. Each scene is rushed and it looks like the entire film was edited together using the first or only takes. All the character lack personalities and it’s difficult to tell most of the women apart due to their acting. If it wasn’t for their imdb pages I would have thought that they all lacked on screen experience.
The story for this one is something we have seen before but with a more female oriented approach. Direct to video action movies, especially during the mid-90s, featured similar stories where the world is in shambles and an evil man is hell bent on taking over what is left of civilization by any means necessary. That has been switched here to an evil woman but the story is still pretty much the same. This basic premise is stretched to over 2 hours of run time which is almost 2 hours too long. It could have been a little more enjoyable if it was trimmed down a lot and the story actually followed itself instead of focusing on scenes full of women in peril. The sleazy aspect is wasted on poorly filmed scenes of women yelling but lacking any emotional attachment to their dialogue.
Finally, the film has a few instances of great practical effects while others lacked practical effects and just sprayed blood everywhere. I really enjoyed the brain scene but that is the extent of it. Overall, Female Mercenaries on Zombie Island is not as fun as I had hoped it would be. I’m sure it would be a blast to watch in a room full of drunk horror fans but it’s a difficult one to finish by yourself and sober. Skip it.
Female Mercenaries 2: The Mad Doctor of Zombie Island
Director – Gary Whitson (Vampire Brides, HorrorTales.666)
Starring – Pamela Sutch (Psycho Sisters, Sorority Slaughter), Tina Krause (Bad Biology, Hunters), and Suzi Lorraine (Spider-Babe, Chainsaw Sally)
Release Date – 2008
Rating – 1/5
When I started my Female Mercenaries journey I was looking forward to some no budget zombie action and beautiful women topless. However, the first film was a mess of a flick and I struggled to finish it. In fact, the two hour film took me almost four hours to finish because I had to take long breaks to let my brain rest. I wanted to give myself some time before I hit play on the sequel so the following day I finally went into Female Mercenaries 2: The Mad Doctor of Zombie Island and I wish I wouldn’t have. I love no budget horror but these two films were a pain in the ass to complete.
**Spoiler Alert** The film once again follows a chaotic Earth that has been sent into darkness after a meteor strike. Some of the survivors have drifted away from civilization while others scramble to hold on to what little humanity they have left. An evil female scientist is attempting to take over the world but female warriors stand in the way of total control. **Spoiler Alert**
Female Mercenaries 2 is an improvement over the first film in that it’s not two hours long. However, that is the only positive that I could find. The movie was just as much a mess as the first film and damn near unwatchable. I hate being so negative about a film, especially an indie production and one sent to me for review, but these two films are a chore to finish. With that being said, having a sequel to the original leads me to believe that the first film actually had some sort of fan base. If so, why? What am I missing there?
The acting in this one is identical to what you will find in the first film. The cast is chaotic, lacking energy, and lazily deliver their dialogue. Any scenes that attempt to be “sexy” come across as awkward and unintentionally funny.
The story for this one is literally the same as the first film but a little more condensed. It looks almost identical and doesn’t really offer up anything new or a real continuation of the 1995 original. Honestly, I have no idea what the point of this one was nor why it was even made.
Finally, don’t expect any fun death scenes or sexy nudity. The nudity is awkward and out of place and the deaths are extremely dull and unimaginative. Overall, Female Mercenaries 2 is another huge disappointment. It could have been a fun cheap and sleazy no budget flick but the lack of story, acting, and memorable deaths makes it another painful experience. Skip it.
The Misadventures of Fanny Starr
Director – Gary Whitson (Hayride Slaughter, Dead North)
Release Date – 1991
Rating – 2.5/5
Tagline – “Mystery and adventure! Countless deathtraps! Battling beauties!”
When I tossed in the Female Mercenaries on Zombie Island Collection release from Camp Motion Pictures I was more interested in the title film and sequel than I was the bonus films. However, both films were a huge disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, I love having this release in my collection and I’m sure I will give it another chance in a few years but it’s one of the worst films and sequels that I’ve ever witnessed.
I know the history behind W.A.V.E. and how they were a camera for hire production company but there was no heart or passion in those films at all. However, when I started working on the special features and the bonus shorts I found myself oddly entertained by The Misadventures of Fanny Starr. Letterboxd has this one as a feature length running time from 1991, however, the version on the release is titled as episode 2 which runs around 25 minutes. Regardless, I liked what I saw and wouldn’t mind tracking down some more of these episodes.
**Spoiler Alert** This “episode” follows Fanny Starr who receives word that her twin sister Annie was murdered. She was suspected of being a part of a witch’s coven. Fanny is a private investigator and starts investigating her death where she uncovers that the coven was under attack by a local religious figure. The closer she gets to discovering what really happened to her sister she uncovers an even darker force is threatening her small town with ties to the detective working the case. **Spoiler Alert**
I was expecting a sloppy short with women screaming, some slight nudity, and an incoherent nudity. However, what I found was a short that reminded me of a no budget spin on Kolchak: The Night Stalker with awkward acting but a story that fits right at home in early to mid-90s direct to video horror hits. It wasn’t amazing and, at times, it was extremely goofy but I had more fun with it than I did the two films.
The acting in this one had me laughing. In fact, I was laughing so hard at the short that my wife and kids had to check on me several times thinking something was wrong. The cast is dry when delivering their dialogue and their emotional range is that of a free-range chicken. However, their mannerisms and stiffness made for some seriously funny moments even though it was unintentional. The story for this one is nothing original but the campiness and story mix together well enough to hold your attention. I enjoyed it but even at 20 minutes long I found my attention weakening. A little originality would have went a long way.
Finally, don’t expect some great blood and gore but there was a fun stop motion moment that caught me off guard. It doesn’t look amazing but it’s still fun. Overall, The Misadventures of Fanny Starr is the highlight of this set but it’s far from perfect. I liked the idea behind it and would love to find some other episodes if there is more episodes.
FEMALE MERCENARIES ON ZOMBIE ISLAND (1995 – S-VHS Feature) “It’s the year 2008, and an asteroid collides with the earth, destroying 90% of the world’s population. The remaining humans swiftly revert into savages, led by a once brilliant but now mad doctor who experiments with brain transplants, cloning and cannibalism!” It’s a post-apocalyptic uprising as mercenaries battle an Evil Doctor using brain transplants, cloning and cannibalism to rule the world!
MAD DOCTOR OF ZOMBIE ISLAND (2008 – Mini-DV Feature) The fiendish Doctor is back with a new army of clones, to continue her quest for world domination!
THE MISADVENTUES OF FANNY STARR (1981 – Super 8 short) Investigating her sister’s murder, Private Detective Fanny Starr uncovers a satanic plot to open a doorway between Hell and earth!
IF A GOD SHOULD FAIL (1976 – Super 8 short) To save the mankind, Zeus sends Hercules to earth to battle a cyborg! Includes Director commentary on IF A GOD SHOULD FAIL
1995 Interview with director / producer Gary Whitson
2021 Footage of the W.A.V.E. Studio
Double Sided Color Blu-Ray Wrap