Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women (1979)

Hi all, Nate here with a quick youtube find, that I will jump right into because I'm short for time and patience lately. So, our plot is pretty simple, six American dudes in a fabulous old PBY Catalina floatplane get lost in the South Pacific and are forced to land on an uncharted tropical isle before they run out of gas. There they discover a group of 8 or so young women in their twenties living the simple life of coconuts and monkey brains, survivors of a lost flight of Catholic girls fleeing Indochina in the 1950s. They've been here since they were just toddlers, with no adult supervision, and so have little or no memories of anything else off-island.

Some of the dudes.

Some of the chicks.

The group's leader is Lizbeth, the oldest of the girls by about 5 years or so. She's had the near-impossible, life-long task of keeping these girls alive for all this time without any adults around, teaching them how to survive Mother Nature's worst. There are also some hostile natives about (on a neighboring island?) that occasionally come in to attack them. These are called the “Headchoppers” and they look like fat Samoan guys in grass loincloths. Over the years at least three of the girls have been killed by the Headchoppers, and another lost to a shark, but they've manage to hold their own quite well with primitive spears and the Headchoppers have left a lot of their own behind as corpses.

Lizbeth looks like Emma Thompson.

So the girls and the white guys discover each other bit by bit and eventually everyone gets together to discuss what the other knows. Helpfully, all the girls speak flawless English (of course they do), though there's some nice diversity in the group, with one black girl and one Chinese girl to go along with the others who are California beach blondes. The title of the movie is apt, they are all quite beautiful in different ways, though they really should be more tanned. They are also quite chaste, perhaps due to their Catholic schoolgirl upbringing, and stodgily refuse to run around topless (boo!). Oh, I know what you're thinking, that this is going to be one of those trashy b-movies were they poor, innocent ladies squeal with delight at the thought of being with strapping white men with perfect hair and trinkets to trade. Well, not so much. In fact the girls really, really just want our menfolk to help them murder the Headchoppers and then they are going to kill them as well, because they firmly believe that Chicks Rule Dudes Drool. And it's hard to blame them, the only men they've ever known have all tried to rape and kill them, they can be excused for stabbing first and asking for a wedding ring second.

Fiercely independent.

You're also probably thinking that all the redblooded guys are just over-sexed horny fratboys who only want nothing more than to bone the island chicks and then high-five each other while posting selfies on facebook. Well, again, not so much. They all seem to be genuinely concerned about the girls and their welfare because they are human beings in need, not just pretty girls for them to ogle and fondle. Most of the men are older and they look at them like they do their own, grown daughters. One younger guy (Mike) and one of the blonde girls (Snow) do develop a bit of a thing for each other, but it never goes further than a couple of teach-me-how kisses.

They keep to themselves a lot.

Snow does take Mike to see “The Sister”, the spiritual leader of this group, who only communicates through Lizbeth. Here is the Big Reveal, that the Sister is an old nun that's been dead for the last 10 years and Lizbeth is batshit crazy. But it's not really the Big Reveal because we already know all this because of an opening scene that showed it all in pointed detail. Our castaway dudes are shocked to find this out, but we in the audience are not and that's a major movie-making mistake. I can't help but think of how much better this movie would have been had they let us, the audience, explore and discover the mystery along with the guys. Hopefully the remake will fix this.

Journal tells the story.

She gots the crazyeyes.

Frizzy-haired Lizbeth is so out-of-control that she has to be stabbed to death by the other girls for her own good when she insists that they kill the men. As she dies, she laments that no one will take care of her charges now, and it's hard not to sympathize with her. She's had to keep this group of girls together and alive her whole life (a task she's done well) and you can cut her some slack for being an over-protective control freak who would kill to keep her “children” safe. The other girls are equally as upset, it's not “yay the witch is dead” but “cry, for our beloved mother figure is dead”. We end with our heroes and heroines escaping the Headchopper invasion on the plane, flying off to freedom. One can only imagine that re-integrating these girls into modern society is going to be terribly difficult, if not impossible. Luckily this isn't 2015 we're talking about, can you image trying to explain One Direction and 4chan and McRibs to these girls?

Gonna need a lot of counceling.

She'll fit right in with that 'fro.

So, why did I pick this movie? Mostly because of the way it went so totally against the grain for what you'd expect from the plot line. Other movies, nearly all, would have gone the sleazy way with the admittedly sensationalist material and I give them major props for doing the opposite. I also like that none of your typical “island adventure” tropes are seen. No one falls in quicksand, no one is attacked by a jaguar, the girls don't chant and beat wardrums, no one grows a beard and draws a face on a volleyball, and thankfully the Professor isn't here to make a cold fusion reactor out of palm fronts and tree bark. Everyone acts as they should, which does make it a tad boring at times, but it was refreshing to see anyway. Oh, and sorry, James, but this was a made-for-network TV movie, so no boobies.

There is a cute Asian girl, though.

And a working WWII-vintage PBY!

The End.

Written in December 2015 by Nathan Decker.

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