Sunday, May 26, 2013

Island Of Terror 1967

The Peter Cushing Centennial Blogathon

 May 26 1913 - Aug. 11 1994

    Combing a spooky isolated island setting, direction by Terence Fisher, a wonderful restrained (and somewhat amusing) performance by Peter Cushing, and some really neat monsters (considering the budget) 1967's Island of Terror is probably the best Hammer Film Hammer never made.

   Starting out with a prologue showing a group of scientist working on an experiment with one of them intoning "Well if this is successfully, we have a cure for cancer" (which translates into "something bad is going to happen now"), after which an explosion thrusts the main titles on the screen. It seems that the scientists were hold up in a big gothic looking house on a small island off the coast of Ireland and have unleashed by accident some nasty monsters which are later named silicates. These things are snail/slug like looking little buggers with a long tentacle that attaches to the victim and sucks out the bones (with a wonderfully gruesome sound effect).

    Dr./teacher Brian Stanley (Peter Cushing) & Dr. Stephen West (Edward Judd - The Day The Earth Caught Fire 1961 ) head off to the island to help out after being summoned by the local Dr Landers (Eddie Byrne). To add some sex appeal factor they're accompanied by Dr. West's new girlfriend rich playgirl Toni Merrill (Carole Gray - Curse of the Fly 1965). There's also a plot point that's a bit of throwback to the 1950's monster/big bug movies - that science may be at fault, but only science can destroy the monsters and science must take charge of the situation. In the best tradition Dr.'s Stanley and West show up on the island and promptly do take charge by immediately bossing around the befuddled & sheep-like islanders (among them the great British character actor Niall MacGinnis - Curse of the Demon 1957)

   As the silicates advance across the island it's discovered that they can divide (while dividing they ooze out what looks like chicken noodle soup), plus they can climb trees and drop on you from above and are impervious to bullets and dynamite ! In order to get some 1960's blood and/or gore injected into the plot Dr. Stanley (Peter) has to have his hand amputated by an axe at one point (in a scene cut from most prints) after a silicate attaches itself. The script has some obvious padding (there's lots of driving around), but this is a really great example of 1960's British (non-Hammer) horror with Fisher shooting in subdued autumn like coloring which adds to the atomshere.

  The movie has a few pretty good scares and and Fisher's direction keeps the plot chugging along at a good pace. The climax finds everybody barricaded in a building while the silicates are breaking in and in a grim setup has Dr. West (Judd) ready to kill Carole Grey in order the save her from getting her bones sucked out.  
  As a character here, Carole Gray doesn't really get to do much besides scream and being told to "stay here" or "wait in the car". She does however have a streak of independence about her in the role (plus I've always liked her). Edward Judd plays the stern non-nonsense scientist type and in any other movie would be the hero (he does end up with girl), however its Cushing who really stands out - he's got all the best lines and throws out some great quips and asides (compete with an amusing double entendre concerning Carole Grey).

   Cushing as Dr. Stanley takes a somewhat backseat to the more authoritative Edward Judd, but its always great fun watching "Props Peter" stealing scenes - never letting us forget who's the real star here.
   Big thanks to Pierre Fournier over at his Frankensteinia blog for organizing this blogathon to celebrate the great Peter Cushing - "The Baron"



  1. Dang man, yet another movie I need to add to my list. You seem to have a talent for picking out movies I haven't seen.

  2. I saw this one on my local Creature Feature (Channel 30 out of St. Louis Missouri as I sat cowering over in southern Illinois) and it really scared me - the creatures were creepy as all get out - love this movie! Excellent tribute to Mr. Cushing! Thanks for following my blog - I like the looks of yours and am following back! Cheers!

  3. Looks really trippy! Thanks for the recommendation, and if anyone's curious they do have the whole movie on You Tube.

  4. Thanks for the You Tube tip ! This is way overdue for a uncut Region 1 DVD release