Film Reviews:

Island of Terror

(Terence Fisher, UK, 1966)

Another curio from the Taste of Fear video vaults begins as a killer virus movie then switches to that other horror sub-genre - alien invasion. A doctor's experiments in cancer research, on a remote island off the coast of Ireland, lead to the cultivation of living organisms designed to fight the illness that become evil sentient beings. The blobby creatures, resembling a land based version of the sea ray, begin killing the island's inhabitants, making their way to the only village. Peter Cushing stars as a medical expert flown to the island to investigate, in a tale that would have made a good story for TVs Doctor Who but makes for only a so-so feature film even though Hammer regular Terence Fisher is in the director's chair.

The creatures devour the bones of their victims, leaving a snakelike skin shell behind. There is a genuine level of disbelief by the experts (as opposed to the "Oh, we're dealing with monsters" approach) and their intelligent use of medical terminology makes the explanatory dialogue more credible than usual for this type of production. The writers have attempted nothing more than to put people in peril in a remote location, but the Irish island setting and location filming add an uncommon backdrop to the proceedings. I'd not seen Island of Terror before this release and fans of the late Peter Cushing will be happy to overlook the film's shortcomings to enjoy an uncharacteristic and first rate performance from him.

Rob Dyer

A-Z of Film Reviews