Piñata: Survival Island (2002): Unintentionally Funny


“Many years ago, a small, isolated tribe were cursed by spirits for their sins. One of the tribesmen crafts a piñata, to which the tribe put their evil into and set afloat in the ocean. The curse was lifted from the tribe, however if the piñata was to be disturbed, an evil would be unleashed.” (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

To someone, Nicholas Brendon most likely as he produced the thing, this must have seemed like a good idea. On paper, it might have looked funny, pithy, clever and very tongue-in-cheek. On celluloid, however, it struggles to overcome mediocre and it is funny for all the wrong reasons.

Starring Nicholas Brendon (Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Jaime Pressley (Pricilla from Not Another Teen Movie), directed and written by the sibling team of Scott and David Hillenbrand, Demon Island (aka Piñata : Survival Island) is a really bad teen horror film.

A group of Fraternity and Sorority students all go to Demon Island to take part in the annual Cinco de Mayo treasure hunt. Each girl and boy is handcuffed together as a couple and must collect underwear that has been scattered about the island. At the end of the event which ever couple has the most underwear will win twenty thousand dollars.

*Warning: in terms of plot depth, this film hasn’t got any.*

While searching for the underwear one couple, Bob and Lisa find a clay piñata, thinking it will be full of booze they break it open. Unfortunately for them, this was the cursed piñata that had been set adrift by the local cursed tribe. It immediately gets bigger and beats Bob to death with a tree branch. Lisa flees for her life.

Meanwhile back at the beach (sorry) Lyle (Brendon) and Tina (Pressley) are arguing and not too happy about being cuffed to one another. It seems that the newly buff Xander, I mean Lyle, and Tina’s relationship had broken up prior to the Cinco de Mayo and they don’t want to be team members. But they decide to patch things up just long enough to enter the event and win. Wow, what a couple of great kids.

Jaime Pressley clearly overjoyed to be in this film.

Lisa is trying to warn everyone about the killer piñata and her information is met with disbelief and derision. One of the girls she tells scoffs and laughingly says, “A piñata? Are you kidding me?” Just moments before she is exterminated by said piñata. I felt bad for her because we felt the same way that she did but, fortunately for us, we were watching the film from the safety of our house. We could make fun of the film’s premise without fear of piñata punishment.

As bad as this film is (and trust me it is bad) it is still fun to watch. It falls into the category of favourite bad films. It is hard to imagine a film more badly edited or shot. The acting, even Mr Brendon’s and Ms Pressley’s, is a pretty poor affair. I was not surprised to see that, although he had produced it, Nicholas Brendon’s presence in the film is pretty minimal considering the prominence that his name took on the cast list.

According to Wikipedia, the film had no computer effects until the rubber monster made its appearance. It was then decided to enhance the monster to make it scarier. They really should have saved their money, at no time while watching this movie did I ever think the monster looked scary; neither did my daughter.

As this movie was made when the Buffy the Vampire Slayer show was making its exit from prime-time telly, Brendon obviously meant for this to be a “first step” into furthering his career. Presumably, I was not on my own in my feelings about this film and he moved sensibly back into television where he seems to be doing fine.

My daughter and I found this film in a local video rental shop quite a few years ago, it has since been on the Horror Channel and I don’t doubt that it will be on it again. It falls into the category of being so bad that it’s funny and if you like that sort of film, have fun.

Demon Island gets a real 4 out of 5 stars for inadvertent hilarity.

Did you floss those teeth buster?

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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