Squandering a kicky idea with bland execution, Terminal Island has the state of California dumping its convicted murderers onto a remote island to let the killers fend for themselves. (One imagines that John Carpenter must have encountered this movie before conceiving his own convicts-on-an-island opus, 1981’s Escape from New York.) As cowritten and directed by Stephanie Rothman, Terminal Island has moments of violent energy, but the characters are so underwritten and the general demeanor of the movie is so sleazy that it’s hard to care what happens. Among the many important things the picture lacks is a dynamic leading character, which means that secondary characters and villains command attention in a way that makes the story feel aimless and episodic. The movie begins with new convict Carmen (Ena Hartman) arriving on the prison island of San Bruno, 40 miles off the California coast. With male inmates vastly outnumbering females, the women are slaves ruled by cruel boss Bobby (Sean Kenney) and his right-hand man, Monk (Roger E. Mosley). After enduring physical and sexual abuse, Carmen and the women escape to join a rebel faction led by A.J. (Don Marshall). War for control over the island ensues. The plot works well enough in fits and starts, but Rothman stops the movie dead for leering topless scenes and nasty vignettes, such as the bit where a woman places honey on a man’s (offscreen) junk, then whacks a nearby tree to summon a swarm of bees. Ouch. Costar Phyllis Davis brings considerable sexual heat to the movie, and a young Tom Selleck gives a passable performance as a doctor convicted of murder on trumped-up charges. Given the potential of the premise, however, Terminal Island is nowhere near the drive-in delight it should be.
Terminal Island: LAME