The Mystery of Thug Island (1964)

No one dares go to Snakes Island! No one that is but an evil Kali-worshipping Thuggee cult. And the British military guy who is seeking vengeance for the kidnapping of his daughter. And the squadron of soldiers and artillery pieces he brings with him. And also the band of snake hunters looking for easy pickings. But other than those hundred or so guys, absolutely no one dares to go to Snakes Island!

The otherwise avoided Snakes Island becomes a hotbed of action, intrigue, doublecrosses, and singles bar because of a confluence of events that can only be attributed to an efficiently plotted adventure tale.

Fifteen years before, Captain McPherson’s daughter Ada is kidnapped right out of her freaking bed by a band of thugs known as Thugs. Their leader, Souyadhana, believes that their scriptures say that this girl will grow up to become the living embodiment of their goddess Kali. She turns out to be a good pick since she becomes such a hottie that the first serpent hunter who lays eyes on her has to have her!

Ada is held captive for fifteen years and grows up to be known by the very descriptive and somewhat stand-offish name, Sacred Virgin. Sacred Virgin doesn’t know her past life as an English chick and has been kept in the dark by Souyadhana so much that she doesn’t even know what the word “love” means! (She has to have her handmaiden explain why it is that her Sacred Virgin panties are soaked whenever this smooth-chested snake wrangler with the manscaped facial hair turns up leering at her.)

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Tremal is just your regular old randy snake guy, looking to catch snakes to sell their skins. He proves he’s no dummy when he decides that a good place to hunt snakes is on an island called Snakes Island. Though the Thuggee cult is hidden somewhere on the island, Tremal’s most memorable (and instructive) encounter may have been with some stock footage of a mongoose brawling with a snake.

As Tremal does his best to affect realistic looking reaction shots to a scene he isn’t really watching, the mongoose defeats the snake and Tremal announces that the mongoose taught him a lesson. Unfortunately for those of us not versed in the ways of the mongoose, Tremal never reveals what lesson it was, but it isn’t like you get to see a snake and a mongoose fight every day in a movie, so you can’t really complain too much about it.

Tremal and Sacred Virgin run into each other on the island accidentally and both instantly fall in love. Despite Sacred Virgin’s name dictating that he wouldn’t get much further than a quick dry hump, Tremal is compelled to find the Thuggee’s secret underground lair and invade it with his buddy in an effort to see her again.

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Meanwhile, Sacred Virgin’s biological father, Captain McPherson, is still on the case. He’s recently re-joined the British military to mount an expedition to eradicate the Thugs in the area.

McPherson advises that he quit the force years ago so that he could play by his own rules in searching for his daughter. Considering it’s been fifteen years and he hasn’t accomplished squat, I would downplay that aspect of his resume if I was him.

He and his battalion head off to Snakes Island to hunt down the Thugs and the stage is set for a healthy helping of strangulations, stabbings, shootings, and other assorted violence one hopes for in such a feature.

Thankfully for the audience, the Thugs are a brutal sort, prone to human sacrifice and torture that sees them put a vise on a guy’s foot! Tremal is no less bad ass, more than willing to take on the entire army of Thugs with just a pal at his side. And of course Captain McPherson isn’t adverse to having his boys fire the canons at the fleeing Thugs from about five feet away.

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All in all, everyone acquits themselves quite well. Souyadhana is sufficiently evil, first trying to force Tremal to kill Captain McPherson in order to save Sacred Virgin, then trying to drown everyone by opening up the floodgate they built into their cavern headquarters.

For his part, Tremal has no qualms about simultaneously strangling and drowning Souyadhana with his bare hands. He also doesn’t give a crap when Souyadhana’s pet tiger tries to play grab ass with him, fighting him to the death without much trouble.

Director Luigi Capuano keeps up a pleasingly hectic pace with the exotic action and though there is obvious padding like the mongoose scene and a rather weird sequence where McPherson and his men have to contend with a water buffalo stampede before launching their big offensive, none of it goes on so long that it becomes too obnoxious.

Other touches such as the numerous reaction shots of the impassive statue of Kali, the weird music used whenever a sacrifice happens, and amusingly dumb moments such as when McPherson asks his right hand man if he is good at handling babies (referring to Ada and Tremal possibly having children) even though he was the same guy who let Ada get kidnapped in the first place, only cement Mystery of Thug Island as the violent fun exotic adventure the title promises.

© 2015 MonsterHunter

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