Angel of Death 2: The Prison Island Massacre
Dir. Andreas Bethmann (2007)
A hitchhiker is framed for a crime and incarcerated on Prison Island, where she awaits rescue by her father’s hired mercenaries.
Another collaboration between director Andreas Bethmann and special effects guru Olaf Ittenbach, Angel of Death 2: The Prison Island Massacre is another in the long line of prison exploitation films, with the usual twist I’ve come to expect from any film helmed by these two: hardcore sex (as opposed to the standard softcore variety usually present in “women in prison” films) and gratuitous torture and violence. Bethmann even throws in some gay sex scenes for those who are interested in that sort of thing, certainly a newer twist on the genre. The female “lead” of the film, if you can call her that, is a hitchhiker who finds herself abducted by a man with a gun. She’s taken to an isolated clearing and orally raped. During this ordeal, she manages to text message a friend and tells them to call the police, giving a basic description of her location. When the police finally arrive, the man who is raping her knocks her out, somehow framing her for a crime in the process. Normally, this lapse in plot-ability would be a problem, but it’s a women in prison film, so how the women get in the prison is rarely the focus of too much runtime. And, because seemingly every women who runs a prison in any film ever is a sadistic pervert, the woman is subjected to sexual torture of the hardcore variety. Meanwhile, somewhere off of Prison Island, the girl’s father hires a band of mercenaries to rescue his daughter. He knows what goes on on this island, having received a video tape of some of the horrific sexual torture that occurs behind the prison’s walls. Which kinda begs the question, why hire goons to storm the island when the government of whatever country this is supposed to be happening would do it for you? I can’t imagine anyone in any position of authority would just be okay with the fact that there is an island prison where brutal rape and torture are the norm. Is this just something that happens in Germany or wherever? Nevertheless, he sends his gang of bounty hunters into the jungle island on which the prison is located, and they get to work, killing anyone who stands in their way while hunting for the missing girl. The bottom line is that, despite the presence of Bethmann and Ittenbach, Angel of Death 2 is a standard prison movie with some hardcore scenes sprinkled in. While it’s nice that the film has some of Bethmann’s flair, once you’ve seen one of his films, you’ve seen them all, to a certain extent. Bethmann made the bizarre choice to turn this film into a pseudo-action movie, with “exciting” music that makes the audience feel like they’re watching Delta Force or something. Unfortunately, there’s little to no actual action. In fact, there’s little to no blood until the last fifteen minutes or so of the movie. Ittenbach quickly rectifies the situation, however, with one of the more brutal torture scenes that I’ve seen in a long time, complete with a penis wrenching (with an actual wrench, no less), plier-aided teeth removal, and an honest to god scalping. It’s realistic and gory as hell, and as with so many of these that I’ve seen lately, if Bethmann had made an entire film like the last fifteen minutes, it would’ve been much more entertaining, perhaps even an instant cult classic. But, alas… The thing that is so incredibly frustrating about movies that Bethmann directs is that they’re so close to being legitimately good movies. It lacks a plot, almost entirely. While that seems like a very critical piece of filmmaking (and it is), it’s almost covered by acting that is not completely awful, genuine talent behind the camera, and Ittenbach’s mastery of gory special effects.
There’s something to be said for the fact that you can pop in any movie by Andreas Bethmann and immediately know exactly what you’re going to get. The frustrating thing is that he has so much talent, so much actual ability, that it’s a shame that nothing he’s done has the depth to achieve any sort of notability. He should be the hardcore Fulci, and Ittenbach is already the gorier Savini (sacrilege, I know, I’m sorry). So why doesn’t he ever achieve the heights of which, I believe, he’s capable? One may never know. However, if you’re looking for something to kill a few hours, have an affinity for sleazy exploitation movies, and like torture, porn, and torture porn, then give it a watch. It’s not as bad as it seems like it would be, lack of plot notwithstanding.