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Sunday, July 19, 2015

VALENTINE MAGIC ON LOVE ISLAND (1980) -- Movie Review by Porfle



A billion years from now, when they're talking about the worst of the worst made-for-TV movies of all time, VALENTINE MAGIC ON LOVE ISLAND (aka "Magic on Love Island") will still hold its own on the lips and in the hearts of junk film junkies of the far-flung future. 

If they still have lips and hearts, that is.  And even if they don't, this brain-warp of a movie will make them feel as though their lips are shriveling in disgust as their hearts break from sheer id-curdling incredulity.

A bizarre hybrid of "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island", from a time faraway back when people still flocked to watch those multi-segment, faded-star-packed chunks of 70s-schlock entertainment, this 1980 crapfest belatedly distills the worst of both and throws in the worst of just about everything else it can get its hands on for good measure. 


The show's incredibly cloying theme song, nauseatingly crooned by a guy with a fake Jamaican accent, lets us know what we're in for:

Floating like a flower in de sea
Waiting to be found by you and me
Feeding all your needed fantasy
Love Island, Love Island
Your island of love


Not on any map or any chart
Only to be found inside your heart
There to give de love in you a start
Love Island, Love Island
Your island of love


The papaya, tasty pomegran'te
Helps you do de t'ings
The t'ings you t'ink you can't [!]
T'rough de voodoo of de island chant
Love Island, Love Island
Your island of love


In de sun your body wants to play
Urging you to let it have its way
T'row your inhibitions in de quay
Love Island, Love Island
Your island of love



Janis Paige, a facelift or two past her prime, stars as a mysteriously magical matchmaker named Madge who brings unlikely couples together at her tropical island paradise resort.  She's supposed to have supernatural powers, but instead of using them for evil--intentionally, anyway--she's like a gushing, overripe Cupid making love connections between grievously mismatched souls with the help of her two bubbly teenage charges, Dominique Dunne (POLTERGEIST) and Christopher "Peter Brady" Knight. 

When things aren't going as love-positive as she'd like, Madge resorts to everything from Tarot cards and crystal balls (so to speak) to whipping up chocolate-dipped roses and other confections that put the love whammy on anyone who eats them.  This is how, heaven help us, she gets Howard Duff romantically interested in Dody Goodman, if you can entertain that thought for more than a few seconds without blacking out. 


The awkwardly-staged intro segments for each main character show us who needs a quick love pair-up on Love Island, and why.  Mary Louise Weller (ANIMAL HOUSE's "Mandy Pepperidge") is shown modeling sexy lingerie for pushy photog Stuart Pankin at his smarmiest before rebelling against the horrible grind and insisting upon an island vacation.  As she goes into freeze-frame, Fake Jamaican-Accent Dude returns to hip us to her plight:

Lady wit' de curvy frame
Sometimes she play nervy game
She needs mon, her ways to tame
Who will be de one?


The "mon" in question, horribly enough, just might be none other than Bill Daily of "I Dream of Jeannie" and "The Bob Newhart Show" fame, here playing a clumsy assistant pastor with Coke-bottle glasses who's a big movie buff.  This guy is such a loss that the head church-guy himself suggests he go away--that is, "get" away--to Love Island as quickly as possible.  Bill's inevitable dating-profile-in-song goes like this:

Man who shy, he miss a lot
Don't use half of what he got
Who'll untie his tied-up knot
Who will be de one?

[The last line, in this case, is spoken dramatically for extra romantic emphasis.]


The horror continues with Bob Seagren as an injured pro quarterback who's one sack away from permanent disability ("Mistah wit de muscles so, he has also big ego..."), a cute pre-nose-job Lisa Hartman as a cornfed checkout clerk named "Crystal Kramer" smothered by her clinging mom (Dody again), and Adrienne Barbeau, God love her, as the fed-up mistress of an overbearing business executive (Duff) who flees to you-know-where.  Her lovelorn lame-erick:

Love may not be on her mind
But she seek and she will find
In de plan dat life design
Who will be de one?


Duff hires a private detective to tail Adrienne, and he turns out to be Rick Hurst, who also falls for her, and...I know what you're thinking.  "Adrienne Barbeau and Rick Hurst?  No. Please, please, just...no."  Well, I hate to say it, folks, but yes.  Just yes.  He will be "de one."  (Or...will he?  Hee hee.)  Rick gets his own verse but I couldn't make out the lyrics because they're warbled bad-Supremes style to catch us off-guard. 


When we finally make it to Love Island, a ghostly Madge wanders around creeping out the new arrivals with her frozen grin as they get off the boat and start intermingling with all the grace of short-circuiting bumper cars.  This is where the true horror (there's that word again) begins, with each potential love-match seemingly more incongruous and repellent than the last and Madge presiding over it all like a sickly-sweet spectre of schmaltz.

Mary Louise Weller starts the ball rolling by strutting around in a revealing swimsuit and getting upset that people are ogling her body instead of her mind, but ends up making out with horndogger Bob Seagren all over the place while Chris Knight lusts after her from afar.  Yikes.  Weller is apparently allowed to ad-lib some of her dialogue in these scenes.  Not a good idea.

Additional laughs are generated by Bill Daily taking off his glasses to appear more attractive to the opposite sex and mistaking Lisa Hartman for Dody Goodman's 50-year-old sister.  Lisa's upset at first, but after dumping her salad in Bill's lap he sorta starts to turn her on, which is just gross.


Things get weirder when Bill and Bob end up stranded on the other side of the island by themselves, one immobilized by old injuries and the other blind as a bat without his glasses.  Madge, who planned the whole thing to force the two men to work out their differences (and "grow") materializes from out of nowhere like Glinda the Good Witch and heals Bob's knee with a laying on of the hands.  Ohhh-kay... 

Much of the "humor" in this part of the movie comes from Dody trying to fix daughter Lisa up with anything in pants, which, unfortunately, includes Rick Hurst.  This leads to Rick dressing in drag at one point in order to avoid Dody.  Watching this scene is like seeing the entire concept of comedy suddenly take a huge dump.
Later, Rick actually hits on Adrienne while he's in full "mom" makeup and muu-muu, and she accepts.  Concept of reality now fully and horribly subverted, thank you very much.

Things hit rock bottom when Rick takes a comedy-relief break to bare his soul to Adrienne with one of those desperate "tears of a clown" speeches that's puppy-dog pathetic.  ("You see, I was always the class clown...the bumbler, the fumbler...girls laughed at me...")  More sensitive viewers may not survive this scene. If you do, you might actually make it to the end of the movie alive.


TV veteran Earl Bellamy, who actually did direct episodes of "Fantasy Island" and "The Love Boat" among many, many other things, does his best with what he has to work with here, which isn't much.  Meanwhile, the photography often renders even the genuine tropical locations murky and mundane. 

Performance-wise, Bob Seagren does his best to murder the art of "acting" but in this crime he has several accomplices.  Even the better actors in the bunch are stymied by ditzy dialogue in a story whose multiple plotlines compete to be the stupidest.  It's telling that the person who seems to fit most comfortably into this frothy concoction of crud is Dody Goodman, playing the dumbest character in the whole movie. 

Everything climaxes (I wish) with the big Valentine Costume Ball, where the couples are coupled once and for all.  Naturally, Dody shows up in a ridiculous chicken suit that she made herself.  Rick Hurst, as a wand'ring minstrel or whatever, continues to push the boundaries of unfunny right up till the bitter end. 


Naughty Dominique eats one of Madge's special love confections and gets high as a kite, leading me to believe that there's a tad more LSD than "magic" in Madge's recipe.  And just in case everybody's "fun quotient" has yet to be adequately met, Howard Duff shows up.  It's truly a magical evening!  (Ehh...)

As hard as I've tried to describe it, this movie simply defies description.  Although I will say that it's smarmy, cloying, cutesy, banal, schmaltzy, senseless, silly,  dunderheaded, inane, inept, indigestible, and incredibly stupid. The script, the acting, the casting, all technical aspects of the production--everything about it is stunningly, stupefyingly awful.  

Without a doubt, VALENTINE MAGIC ON LOVE ISLAND is one of the all-time most horrendously horrible things ever concocted for public viewing. An absolute cringe-inducing joy to watch.  Fascinatingly bad.  I love, adore, and cherish this movie.  I've seen it at least twenty times.

Watch the full movie on Youtube

Watch the original promo on Youtube

"Love Island" Theme
Music by Peter Matz/Lyrics by Norman Gimbel


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