TANYA’S ISLAND (1980)
Article 4357 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Alfred Sole
Featuring Vanity, Richard Sargent, Don McLeod
What it is: Someone’s strange bad dream
A woman lives on an island with her possessive and sometimes abusive boyfriend. When she befriends a gorilla with bluish fur, he becomes jealous of her new friend. The boyfriend and the gorilla vie for possession of the woman.
Early on during the movie, I was preparing to dismiss this one as an arty variation on THE BRIDE AND THE BEAST, which, after seeing the movie in its entirety, seems like a not quite accurate oversimplification. Instead, I think it’s better to describe it as the lead female’s sexually-charged bad dream; I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole movie is some sort of metaphor for sexual desire. The movie takes itself very seriously indeed, but there came a point where I just felt it was all pretty silly, and the harder the movie tries, the sillier it becomes. I will admit that the gorilla suit designed by Rick Baker is pretty impressive, though it really doesn’t look much like a gorilla; but then, realism isn’t what this movie is about. Ultimately, I can only shake my head, give the movie a few points for being different, and wonder if it’s art film or exploitation. It’s definitely one of the odder movies I’ve seen.
Postscript: I’ve had it confirmed that the creature is not intended to be a gorilla, but an ape of indeterminate type.