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Pirates of Ghost Island

Directed by Mitcheal Toles

Written by Kristen J. Johnson, Pauline Thomas

Starring Melissa Powell, William Landsman, Thomas Stiver, Jennifer Casco

Produced by David Sterling

Rated R

80 minutes

*

With the highly, highly successful conclusion of “Pirates of the Caribbean” still fresh in everyone’s minds, it’s not so outlandish to think that the “me, too!” crowd has crawled out of the woodwork.

Imitators are a mixed bag, as always, with some skillful imitators at work as well as some scavengers out for a quick buck also at play. “Pirates of Ghost Island,” fresh off the boat from Lions Gate, will prove to be one of the scavengers.

And what “Pirates of Ghost Island” digs up is the story of half a dozen kids shipwrecked on an island following a sudden storm. The island only looks uninhabited, because the next morning, one of them is kidnapped. And thus, the kidnapping leads the remainder into a fight for their lives against the titular pirates of what is, apparently, now Ghost Island, formerly Fishkill Island.

“Pirates of Ghost Island” screams, at once, “low-budget” and “shoddily executed.” How? Why, just follow the pirates down their cave on the island when, in 1685, they invented tiki torches. That’s right—the “pirate cave” is lit with remnants from a lawn and garden store. For crying out loud, people…this isn’t rocket science! You want to make torches for a pirate movie, you make them yourself! You don’t run down to Menard’s or K-Mart or some such and clear out the tiki torches!

This is not a barbecue! This is not a garden party! This is a fucking pirate movie! Show some authenticity, for crying out loud!

And it only gets cheesier the farther in you go. I mean, I’ve got something of an appreciation for low-budget filmmaking. Some of the best movies I’ve ever seen were shot on the strength of someone’s credit card. But still…for crying out loud, there’s low-budget and then there’s just downright godawful. “Pirates of Ghost Island” qualifies as downright godawful. The acting has more wood in it than a pirate galleon and the script has more holes than same. The effects are limited to blood and the occasional bit of shimmering blue light to represent ghosts.

I’m not up on my editing techniques, but when they’re using wipe effects to advance the footage, I know something pathologically low-budget is going on.

That and the movie is also very, very dialogue-heavy. You’re spending most of the movie, as a result, watching people talk. That’s not exactly entertaining by itself, and with the rest of the problems this movie’s got, it just drags it down even further.

Oh, and let’s not forget the sheer logical impossibilities, like when the search party goes into the woods and runs into a “native” with a blowgun. The native makes one shot—it’s audible that one puff goes into the blowgun—but somehow, the target takes no less than FIVE DARTS TO THE FACE. So unless that’s a shotblowgun, somebody really screwed the pooch.

Then, as a final blow to my sensibilities, the characters actually have catch phrases. One starts most of his sentences with “fact is.” Dawn, the tall blonde with the accent who spends the entire movie in a red bikini, says “I just wish we could go home” at least four times. I’d say something snarky about that but there’s really no point. It’s just thoroughly stupid and anyone who watches this will know that anyway. So why bring it up?

The ending is pretty shoddy, but at least manages to not leave too many loose ends. Mostly because the rest of the movie didn’t advance a whole lot of plot that had to be tied up later anyway. It’s not too hard to put a decent ending on a movie that was pretty much garbage to begin with. The fact that the evil pirate captain was actually defeated by…get this…talking him into giving up is a downright tragedy from a narrative standpoint. The twist is equally shoddy, and the credits roll with what sounds like a karaoke version of “Fifteen Men on a Dead Man’s Chest.”

The special features are limited to Spanish and English subtitles, along with trailers for “Acts of Death,” “Haunted Boat,” “Cross Bones,” and “Komodo Vs. Cobra.”

All in all, “Pirates of Ghost Island” is a slow, waterlogged wreck of a movie that proves to be one of the worst pirate movies I’ve ever seen. Slow, dull, and poorly executed, this scurvy dog is no treasure.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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