Friday, 21 November 2014


d. Nate Watt (1961)

The Fiend of Dope Island is about a love triangle between a marijuana farmer and gun runner called Charlie, a heavily accented showgirl called Glory La Verne and an undercover narcotics agent (I didn't catch his name). It is not, as far as I know, based on a true story. 

The semi-psychopathic and possibly brain damaged Charlie (he has two prominent scars on his head) is played by Bruce Bennett. Bennett used to be an Olympian called Herman Brix, and was lined up to play in the first MGM Tarzan film until he broke his shoulder and Johnny Weissmuller took his place. Brix soon returned reborn as Bennett and played Tarzan in a cheap serial overseen by Edgar Rice Burroughs himself. His Tarzan was a gentleman: educated and articulate, but he was no match for Weissmuller and soon went back to character roles. Bennett’s performance here is pretty wild, but not particularly good, which is great, especially if you like ham. 

The film is relieved from being tedious by little studs of excitement like fist fights, shark attacks, bongo music, some surprising nudity and lots of corporal punishment. A well-oiled bull whip is the weapon of choice, if you don't count 'The Yugoslavian Bombshell' Tania Velia, who cha cha cha's into the midst of the male dominated island like a sex grenade with the pin out.  

The credits claim that this delightful trash flavoured trifle introduces Tania, but she’d already been in Hollywood for a few years at this point. Soon after this film was released she went home to Belgrade. Draw your own conclusions. 

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