From the video case:
On a tiny island off the coast of Ireland, a new breed of terror is unleashed. In his quest to find a cure for cancer, a research scientist conducts an experiment involving mutated cells. But, this attempt to benefit humanity becomes a nightmare that threatens the entire human race.
The tranquil island is suddenly rocked by the mysterious death of a local farmer. When he is found in a cave, not a trace of bone is left in his body; he has been reduced to a horrible, shapeless mass. Enter eminent pathologist Dr. Brian Stanley (Peter Cushing) and Dr. David West (Edward Judd), a brilliant bone specialist.
Working together in a desperate race against time, they must find a way to destroy the seemingly indestructible, ever-multiplying horde of bone-eating creatures before the mutant monsters kill everyone on the island and spread like a deadly plague across the entire planet. (1966, color)
I credit Island of Terror for reigniting my interest in old sci-fi/horror movies. Several years ago I caught this movie on television. I remembered it from my youth and was enthralled to see it again through the eyes of an adult. As I was watching the movie, a friend dropped by and we finished watching it together. Afterwards, he suggested we rent a slew of old sci-fi/horror films and view them over the course of a few days. That’s exactly what we did, and I have been re-hooked ever since.
What really makes this film work is the dynamic between the two lead characters, Peter Cushing (The Curse of Frankenstein, The Abominable Snowman) and Edward Judd (The Day the Earth Caught Fire). Both men play their roles (Dr. Stanley and Dr. West, respectively) without a trace of campiness. Edward Judd actually has more of the lead role, and gets the girl (Carole Gray), but it’s Peter Cushing who gets the better lines.
Another interesting aspect of this film are the unusual monsters. They’re sort of a large turtle-shelled creature with a single tentacle that extends from the front. They reproduce by dividing in half and producing a gunk that looks like some sort of Chinese noodle soup. They’re not monsters you will easily forget.
If I were to find fault with this movie, it would be that it sometimes loses momentum. There’s a particularly slow scene where we watch the doctors put on radiation suits. First the pants, then the shoes, then the top, and then the hood, and then they finally buckle themselves in. I’m not exactly sure why we had to see all that. Plus, the radiation suits are decidedly unimpressive. They don’t look very sturdy and rather resemble cheap condoms.
Other than a lack of good editing, this film is highly entertaining. Keep in mind the significance this film plays in my personal history when you see my rating.
Island of Terror is directed by Terence Fisher (Horror of Dracula, The Curse of the Werewolf).
Scene to watch for: Dr. Stanley gives Dr. West a hand. Literally.
Line to listen for: “If I hear another sound out of you I’m gonna smash your face in and throw you out for those things to get.”
FYI: This movie is also known as Night of the Silicates, The Creepers, The Night the Creatures Came, The Night the Silicates Came.
Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! ! out of 5.