Mar 26 2013 3:50pm

The 5 Freakiest (and Obscure) Sci-Fi Islands You Don’t Want to Visit

Monster Island

What do you picture when you think about islands? Most people imagine white sand beaches, grass huts (with satellite TV), hammocks, and rendezvous in pristine waterfall-fed lagoons.

But not everyone has such a pleasant outlook when it comes to nature’s gift to introverts. Take me for example. My newest book, Island 731, is based on the heinous human experimentation carried out during World War II by the Imperial Japanese Army’s R&D group, Unit 731, and it asks the question, “What would be the result if Unit 731 was never stopped?” Limb replacements. Rapid Freezing. Vivisections. Cannibalism. Fun stuff like that.

As you can see, not every imagined island getaway is a destination worth spending your vacation—or even ten minutes—unless being eaten by a crocodile with tentacles is your idea of fun. So, in celebration of Island 731’s release, I’d like to take a look at the five freakiest fictional islands that continue to inspire (read: give nightmares to) authors like me.

Disclaimer: Some of the islands on this list are unnamed. In that case, I will simply name the work in which they appear.



Fantasy Island

Remember when I accused you of fantasizing about who you would like to be marooned on an island with? Well, the writers for the late 70s/early 80s TV series, Fantasy Island, dreamed up a variety of sultry, violent and downright strange scenarios for an ever-changing group of visitors. But you know nothing good can come from a place where your rich, enigmatic host drives around in a cherry red convertible station wagon, has a pint-sized, French accented side-kick and a bevy of giggle-prone, bouncy, bikini babes ready to lay you—sorry, lei you...with flowers. But both are probably true. Granted, on the show, most people left the island intact, but this is a place where fantasies became reality. What would happen if you wound up there with, say, Charles Manson, or even worse, Gary Busey? The show occasionally focused on sci-fi elements like time travel and often delved into the supernatural, but we never really got a look at what went on behind the scenes, which I have no doubt would be even worse than becoming a mushroom. That will make sense in a moment.



Mantango Island, Fungus of Terror

Now, if your first reaction to reading the name, Mantango, is something along the lines of “What the hell is Mantango,” that is actually an acceptable response. Also known as Mantango: Fungus of Terror, this Japanese cult classic is obscure. But obscurity doesn’t matter, because this is the kind of island that leaves you feeling like you’ll never eat mushrooms again...and I’m not talking about the mushrooms you eat with a steak. Even if you’re as hallucinogen-free as Charles Ingalls on a Sunday morning, you’re going to feel like you be trippin’ hard by the end of this movie.

The story is basically this: the cast of a Japanese Gilligan’s Island remake is shipwrecked on an island lush with giant mushrooms and mushroom-men out for blood, unless of course, they get hungry and eat a mushroom, in which case, they become a mushroom themselves. Personally, I love mushrooms (the non-hallucinogenic variety) and will take great care to avoid this island, because I would very quickly succumb to temptation, feast on a mushroom, become a mushroom, and eventually eat myself to death like Pizza the Hutt.



Deep Rising Island

Don’t ask me to tell you what the movie Deep Rising was about. I think it had something to do with tentacle monsters on a ship. My memory of the whole thing is vague and unimpressed, except for the final five seconds of the movie, where the three survivors wash up on the pristine shore of a deserted island. For a moment, it’s a stereotypical happy ending, but then trees start snapping, a roar pierces the air and we pull back to reveal something big and unseen smashing through the trees and rough terrain, and an erupting volcano spewing orange lava! Those few seconds are far more frightening than the rest of the movie, and they left an impression on this viewer. Not only did that island represent the movie I wished I’d seen, but it was without a doubt a place I’d never want to go, not because of what is shown, but because of what was left to my admittedly screwed-up imagination.



Monster Island

I have to admit that I have an affinity for Monster Island, which is home to a myriad of giant monsters from the Toho universe (who is also responsible for Mantango, by the way). Godzilla, Anguirus, Rodan, Varan, Baragon and Mothra larva, among others, all made their homes on the island after being transported there in the late 60s, and being contained there by an array of technological deterrents. If this island actually existed, it would be a veritable graveyard for Kaiju nerds like myself, who couldn’t resist the siren call of Gabara. That would make it one of the most dangerous islands for me personally, and the place I would eventually go to die with a smile on my face. But for the rest of the world, this island of 100–300 foot tall beasts would be a horrible place to visit, mostly because if you’re not stomped to death or burned to a crisp, it’s likely you’d be swallowed whole and slowly digested alongside a whale... or Tokyo Tower.



The Island of Misfit Toys, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Yeah, that’s right. This island is straight from the classic Christmas tale, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and it makes the list because 1) this island is cold as hell, and if you visit, you’re likely to die of hypothermia, and 2) this frozen wasteland of a place is populated by defunct and discarded toys. But it’s not the toys themselves that makes this island freaky, it’s who put them there. Santa Claus. That fat, red bastard casts away imperfect toys, banishing them to a cold existence until King Moonracer can find them homes. But why not a tropical paradise? Or why not a wing for “special” toys in the Workshop itself? If you spend too much time thinking about why Santa sent the toys to this far away island (like me), you’ll realize that whenever King Moonracer says to a toy, “We found a home for you!” he’s really saying, “My castle is cold and I need fuel for the furnace.” Because, honestly, what else is there to burn in that ice-covered hell?

Jeremy Robinson is the bestselling author of thirty novels and novellas including Island 731, SecondWorld, Project Nemesis and the Jack Sigler series including Pulse, Instinct, Threshold, and Ragnarok. Robinson is also known as the #1 Amazon.com horror writer, Jeremy Bishop, author of The Sentinel, and the controversial novel Torment. His novels have been translated into eleven languages. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and three children. For more on Robinson’s books, visit http://www.jeremyrobinsononline.com

Charles Foster
1. FossMaNo1
What, the island that is the centerpiece of the television series Lost doesn't make the list?
2. Juanito
Oh Deep Rising... there are so many scenes from that movie that I recall WAY too vividly. The Japanese chick getting yanked ("realisitically") through a cruise ship toilet, the half-digested dude getting dumped in front of his friends (he's still alive omg!) and the compound fracture the Chaotic Evil guy sustains as he leaps from the Lido deck to the pirate ship. That movie was one long series of winces.
3. FredG
Watched "Matango" aka "Attack of the Mushroom People" as a youngster and it left a mark. Still creeps me out.
Thomas Thatcher
4. StrongDreams
The Mysterious Island deserves mention as the prototype supervillian lair, and it even explodes and sinks at the end!
6. Jeff R.
There are a lot of them, aren't there? I'd put Dinosaur Island (DC) and Isla Nublar on any list this week, along with Skull Island, Spider-Skull Island, and Craphole Island...
7. Gustaf Johansen
Still no mention of the sunken island wherein lies the hidden city R'Lyeh, whereis sleeps the Dread Cthulhu ... and after all I went through to find the place - purely by accident, of course, but none of the Elder Gods believe in Fate anyway ...
David Thomson
8. ZetaStriker
I would totally visit Fantasy Island in a heartbeat. Loved that show, and the danger usually wasn't deadly.
9. JRobinson
I actually chose not to include the obvious choices like Lost, Skull Island, Isla Nublar and Moreau simply because they are so well known that they're less fun to learn about, and write about. Writing about the obscure is so much more fun. Also, I can think of a lot of people who wouldn't mind going to the Lost Island to spend time with Kate...or Jack...or Sawyer.... You get the idea. :)
10. Kimberley
I want to see a David Lynchesque remake of Fantasty Island. In retrospect, the Island really was a creepy place. I'd love to see what you'd come up with for some of the subplots. ;)
12. graftonio
The first time I watched Deep Rising was on a day off during the summer and I dropped a couple hits of LSD with no idea about what the movie I was watching was about...

About the time they show the first giant tentacle I thought either this is the coolest movie ever or I just spent the best 10 bucks ever.
14. AlC
Freakiest island ever? Living Island, from the H.R. Pufnstuf television show. Even when I was 5 years old, I could tell that place was just wrong, wrong, wrong.
Joseph James
15. wjames1204
In regards to the Island of Misfit toys and being cold, has anyone else noticed that Rudolph leaves by himself to "protect his friends" and yet he leaves the door to their cabin open in the middle of the night so they can freeze to death in their sleep? Check it out, cause he totally walks away while the door is open. Adios Yukon and Hermie!
16. oliveramy
What about the island from The Life of Pi? The one that provides life and food in the day but digests its inhabitants in pools of acid at night and spits out their bones and teeth in flowers!
Shelly wb
17. shellywb
That island in Life of Pi was freaky. On the other hand, Monster Island would be great so long as the hotel was strong enough to withstand monster steps and Baby Godzilla. That would be the best vacation ever.
19. JRobinson
Alc, totally agree. H. R. Puffnstuf would have been a great addition. And I have yet to see Life of Pi, or read the book, but that definitely sounds like a contender.

wjames1204, you're right! But is it any surprise? Being raised in a place where such intolerance of toys with square wheels has mess with the minds of baby reindeer.

Joseph, I have this weird eye problem where bits of the screen are blanked out, so all I saw was "Positively, good luck with the book." So, thanks!
20. Steve Braswell
You got it slightly wrong about the island of misfit toys. King Moonracer is the one who nightly goes out and looks for unloved toys and brings them back to the island. S. Claus is innocent of that particular crime.

That said, yeah, its a mighty creepy island.

P.S. more Chess Team books please!
Kathryn Pender
21. KateAtonik

Jeremy! Well I laughed a lot, thought it was a great article, it brought back a lot of memories, dang those dodgy movies are fun. Speilberg has a lot to answer for!
Keep up the good work and thanks for all the pleasure (literally!) you have given me - with your books :)
22. Joy V. Smith
Darn it! I liked The Deep Rising. I liked the cast, and it was scary. Good ending.

Yes, the island from Life of Pi would have been a good addition.
23. SueQ
'The Island of Dr. Moreau"!!
24. bettielee
Sorry. You forgot Lost. Your argument is invalid.
Christopher Bennett
25. ChristopherLBennett
@24: Read comment #9.

Anyway, the Lost island is a latecomer. You want a really freaky island, try Gilligan's Island. They had it all -- headhunters, voodoo curses, a mad scientist on the island next door, a 6-foot-long spider, and an inexplicable attraction for spies, astronauts, heiresses, surfers, producers, and actresses, particularly those who were exact lookalikes for the Minnow crew. There's also evidence that the island's geography and location were mutable.

Because of the giant spider, I have a sneaking suspicion that Gilligan's Island is what was left after Captain Nemo's Mysterious Island blew up.
26. BMunro
My personal theory always was that #3 was #2.
27. hoopmanjh
There's also the island from Warren Fahy's book Fragment -- a completely separate ecosystem evolved after millions of years of isolation, although it's more from the Jurassic Park school of bad islands.
28. Basel Gill
What about the volcanic island lair in You Only Live Twice?

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