Tanya's Island (1980) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tanya's Island can best be described as the Canadian film in which Vanity gets naked constantly, starting in the opening credits, and eventually gets sodomized by a guy in a gorilla suit.

Now THAT'S entertainment.

Vanity plays an aspiring actress who seems to be involved in an unfulfilling relationship with a sensitive artist. One night she hears some heavy breathing upstairs in their apartment. There is a glowing light behind the  bathroom door, and when she opens the door she is transported to a tropical island where she and her artist are running around in flimsy clothing or no clothing at all. They seem to be getting along better on the island than they were back in Canada, except that she is in the process of forming a relationship with a guy in a cheesy 1930s-style gorilla suit. Given the pretentious, yet incompetent nature of this film, and the fact that the entire island adventure is obviously a fantasy sequence or dream, this could mean one of three things:

1. She longs for a man with a more bestial nature than her sensitive artist.

2. She longs to have a relationship with a gorilla.

3. She longs to have a relationship with a guy in a gorilla suit. Because sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

They are the only three living beings on the island. The artist is jealous of Vanity's relationship with the gorilla, so he traps the gorilla and cages him. Vanity is outraged by this, so she frees the creature, whereupon the gorilla traps Vanity and cages her. Vanity tries to escape, whereupon the gorilla catches her, mounts her from behind, and ....

She wakes up, and it was all a dream.

I didn't make that up. In fact I didn't make up any of the above. That's really what the film is about.

I reckon that 1980 was an especially poor year for Canadian films, because this ridiculous no-budget leftover from the 1970s zeitgeist was actually nominated for a Genie, the Hoser Oscar. To place it all in context, Meatballs was nominated for many, many Genies that year, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and FOUR (that's not a misprint) acting awards. Meatballs actually won the Genie for Best Original Screenplay and its female star, Kate Lynch, was honored as the Best Actress. Tanya's Island received a Genie nomination for the best costume design.

Tanya's Island seems to think it has something to say about the psychology of love or dreams or something, but I'm not really sure what that might be. I know it's a very difficult film to watch. It has almost no dialogue, the presentation is smugly arty, the acting is sub-par, and the director is far too impressed with his own symbolic cinematography. At one point I was exhausted and hoping the film was near the end when I checked my DVD player and was disheartened to discover it had only been on for 28 minutes.

To make matters worse, the DVD seems to have been created by simply converting a VHS tape.

Oh, well, Vanity is naked a lot  ...



  • No widescreen
  • There are no worthwhile features related to this movie, but there are several trailers, including an uncensored one from the rarely-seen Cannibal Taboo.



Vanity - complete frontal and rear nudity

Richard Sargent - also the full monty, including his penis in a woman-on-top sex scene

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online.

  • It was nominated for a Genie for Best Costume Design.


The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 4.0/10, which is about four times higher than it should be.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film, as seen on this DVD transfer, is an F, pretentious gibberish in an awful transfer. I think the correct score would be D- if there were a good DVD. It appears that the photography would actually be quite beautiful if it were properly transferred.

Return to the Movie House home page