Sunday 22 November 2020

Island of Terror

In their short lifespan Planet Film Production made five films; two crime movies, a horror - 'Devils of Darkness' - and two science fiction movies - 'Night of the Big Heat' (UKUS) and 'Island of Terror'.

In many ways both 'Night of the Big Heat' and 'Island of Terror' can be seen as a bit of a job lot as they share very similar concepts - strange creatures terrorising a remote island - a director - Hammer legend Terence Fisher ('Dracula' (UK / US), 'The Curse of Frankenstein' (UK / US)) - a composer - Malcolm Lockyer - a cinematographer - Reginald Wyer (a regular Terence Fisher collaborator as well as working on 'Night of the Eagle' (UK / US)) - and principal cast - Peter Cushing.

In this instance the strange creatures - named 'Silicates' - are created in a lab on the island where they are trying to cure cancer.  The Silicates are greenish blob things with Triffids like stingers that feed on the the bones of their victims.  Impervious to axes, petrol bombs and dynamite it's up to the trio of doctors - Cushing, Edward Judd ('First Men in the Moon' (UK / US), 'The Day the Earth Caught Fire' (UK / US)) & Eddie Byrne - along with scream queen Carole Gray ('Devils of Darkness') to find a way to end their threat and save the islanders.

It's a fun movie that I've always thought has the feel of early 70s Doctor Who about it and with it's perils of science storyline it's certainly coming from the same place that would later give us Doomwatch.  There are some pacing issues but Fisher gives us a real tour of the island with various outdoor locations and a plethora of studio sets.  His slow reveal of the monsters is as effective as the creatures aren't and the finale as the panicked villagers are held seige in the village hall is very well done.

Buy it here - UKUS - or watch it below.


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