Return to Fantasy Island (1978)
Fantasies fulfilled in made for TV film, turned series
“The plane, the plane.”
Need I say more? I guess only if you wanted to know what the hell I am talking about.
Those four words (technically two words, each said twice) kicked-off every episode of the classic television series “Fantasy Island.” Each week, Mr. Roarke (played by the incomparable Ricardo Montalban) would welcome guests to his own island and help them fulfill their fantasies, for a handsome price. Wearing an all white suit, he could have been mistaken for an ice cream sales man, or perhaps milkman, but Roarke’s suave demeanor, and dark side (which I will get to later) let you know that he wasn’t interested in dairy distribution.
At Roarke’s side, several feet down, was his trusty assistant Tattoo. French actor Hervé Villechaize portrayed the diminutive Tattoo, who would run up a tower to ring a bell, and shout “The plane, the plane” to announce the arrival of guests. A little known fact is that although Tattoo was a little person, Villechaize himself was in fact well over six feet tall. He was just that good of an actor.
Return to Fantasy Island is the second of two television movies that aired before it became a regular series. In this chapter of the saga, Roarke and Tattoo have three fantasies to fulfill. That’s quite a task, but if a guy in a white suit and his three-foot tall butler aren’t up to the challenge, then nobody is.
One of the fantasies involves a couple that gave up their child for adoption years earlier. They come to the island when they are told they will have a chance to meet their daughter. Once they get there, Roarke informs them that they cannot tell their daughter who they are. Also, they will not be meeting one young girl, but three. Oh, and all three look similar, all were adopted, and all were born on the same day. Roarke leaves it up to the couple to sort out this mess.
Also visiting the island is a powerful businesswoman and a gentleman who is number two in command for her company. Roarke has invited the lady to Fantasy Island for a business meeting with a competitor. That is a filthy lie. You see, her employee has fallen in love with her, and has paid Roarke $10,000 to help fulfill his fantasy. Roarke drives the two of them out to a deserted part of the island and abandons them there hoping Cupid will strike.
Not wanting to leave anything to chance, Roarke also poses as a violent hillbilly, who abducts the poor woman, only emitting grunts as he leers at her. Roarke’s master plan is for her employee to save her, so she will fall in love. Whatever happened to flowers?
The other visitors to the island are a young couple that are re-enacting their honeymoon. The reason they are doing that is because the bride has amnesia, and the husband is hoping this will jog her memory. While this seems like a nice thing for the husband to do, Mr. Roarke throws one accusation after another towards him, accusing him of marrying for money and even murder.
After viewing Return to Fantasy Island, I was left with one predominant thought; that Mr. Roarke is kind of a dick. Sure, he helps people, but he really toys with people’s minds and emotions along the way. He is the ultimate puppet master.
When I picked up this film from the Dollarama, I was expecting a carefree, happy little adventure. Instead what I got was a powerful, sometimes dark and disturbing film that delivers on a whole different level than I could have imagined. This may be the best $1.14 I have ever spent.
For those who were too young to have seen the television series, and aren’t lucky enough to live near a dollar store that is selling this movie, you still have a chance to experience the magic of “Fantasy Island.” Eddie Murphy has signed on to star in a new movie version of the series and rumours suggest he will play multiple roles – perhaps both Roarke and Tattoo? This new film will truly fulfill the fantasies of many moviegoers.