Terminal Island (film)

Terminal Island, released theatrically in the U.K. as Knuckle Men, is a 1973 American actiondrama thriller film directed by Stephanie Rothman.[1] It features early screen performances by Tom Selleck and Roger E. Mosley. Although an exploitation film, it has been treated with much serious discussion by critics and academics over the years.[2] It is regarded as a cult film.[3]

Terminal Island
Directed byStephanie Rothman
Produced byCharles S. Swartz
Written byStephanie Rothman
Charles S. Swartz
Jack Barrett
StarringPhyllis Davis
Marta Kristen
Ena Hartman
Don Marshall
Barbara Leigh
Randy Boone
Tom Selleck
Music byMichael Andres
CinematographyDaniel Lacambre
Distributed byDimension Pictures
Release date
  • June 1973 (1973-06)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States


A TV news program does a segment on Terminal Island, an off-shore island established after the abolition of the death penalty. First degree murderers are shipped off to the island to spend the rest of their days fending for themselves.

Carmen is dropped off at Terminal Island. The first prisoner she meets is a former doctor. She comes to realize that there are two main factions on the island. A civil war breaks out.



Rothman later said that she was asked to have a rape scene in the film but could not bring herself to shoot it. "I would not want to be responsible in any way for showing how it could be done", she said.[4]

She elaborated:

in a film like Terminal Island [1973], practically the whole film involves violence because the subject matter is violent people. I accepted that. I recognized that if I was going to make films, and I was going to make them for the market, I was making them for it. I wanted to make films very much and that's what I needed to do. What I needed to do was try to refine that and give it some meaning beyond the violence itself, or beyond the nudity itself. In that sense, I tried very hard to not make it exploitative.[5]

The film was originally more violent, but scenes had to be cut out. Rothman was uncomfortable with the violence that she did show. "I was unhappy with the movie and still continue to feel so", she said in 1981.[6]

Film critic Roger Ebert rated Terminal Island one star out of four, dismissing it as "the kind of movie that can almost be reviewed by watching the trailer."[7]

See also


  1. "Terminal Island". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  2. Henry Jenkins, 'Exploiting Feminism in Stephanie Rothman's Terminal Island (1973)'
  3. Erens, Patricia (1 March 2009). "Film Industry in the United States". Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  4. "How They Handle Controversial Issues: NUDITY". Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File). Los Angeles. 12 February 1978. p. 35.
  5. "Stephanie Rothman". Interview Magazine.
  6. Williams, Tony (Summer 1981). "Feminism, Fantasy and Violence: An Interview with Stephanie Rothman". Journal of Popular Film & Television. 9 (2): 84.
  7. Ebert, Roger. "Reviews: Terminal Island". Chicago Sun-Times.
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