Review of Island of Terror (1966)

from IMDB

As promised, monsters and cheesy specials effects. Saturday night pizza and bad movie night with Svengoolie.

Plot:

On isolated Petrie Island off the Irish coast, Mrs. Bellows (Joyce Hemson) notices her husband Ian (Liam Gaffney) hasn’t come home. She contacts Constable John Harris (Sam Kydd) and asks him to go look for him.

Meanwhile, oncologist Dr. Lawrence Phillips (Peter Forbes-Robertson) is holed with his research team in a laboratory in a castle on the island. Dr. Phillips is hopeful they’re on the verge of discovering a cure for cancer.

Constable Harris finds what remains of Ian Bellows in a cave. There doesn’t appear to be a mark on him. He is, however, missing every bone in his body.

Suitably spooked, the good constable turns to physician Dr. Reginald Landers (Eddie Byrne), who is dumbfounded. Dr. Landers goes to the mainland for a specialist, Dr. Brian Stanley (Peter Cushing). Stanley further complicates things by seeking out brilliant Dr. David West (Edward Judd).

Stanley and Landers arrive at West’s place while West is entertaining a lady friend, Toni Merrill (Carole Gray). She volunteers the use of her daddy’s helicopter in return for the privilege of tagging along.

Once they reach the island, they learn the helicopter must fly back to the mainland, effectively stranding everyone there for several days.

What could go wrong?

By this time, farmers have started to lose livestock. The assembled doctors decide to contact the research team in the castle to seek their assistance. Stanley knows Phillips.

Unfortunately, the whole team is dead, deboned. It looks like there was a struggle.

Thoughts:

The monster accidentally created by the cancer research team is a silicon-based life form, originally designed to destroy cancer cells. Instead, it develops a taste for calcium phosphate. The monster bears an uncanny resemblance to the silicon-based rock monsters of “The Devil in the Dark” episode of the original Star Trek series, a ground-sweeping lump of amorphous lava-ish goo. The movie monsters, called “silicates,” differ in appearance by having a single tentacle to attack prey. The silicates are also nearly indestructible and reproduce by fission. Dr. Landers learns to his dismay that axes do nothing. Later, the viewer sees them brush off Molotov cocktails and even dynamite. They can climb trees—somehow.

I could find no connection between Star Trek and this movie. The only Petrie Island I could find was in Ontario, Canada. Unless the whole island immigrated, I’d hazard a guess the name is fictional. Nevertheless, it’s a good name, given the goings-on

This has a rather high body count for a sci-fi/horror flick. The discovery of poor Ian Bellows occurs early. It’s just a rubber suit with clothes, but Constable Harris’ reaction serves to add the horror. What can he tell poor Mrs. Harris? What could cause such a thing? Later, the viewer sees a sinister tentacle.

A scene late in the movie has the townspeople gathered in the city hall, awaiting the onslaught of the creatures. The important men of the village have told the villagers they will be safe here. Probably. The offensive measures they’ve worked against the creatures might take a while to take effect. All the usual horror movie happenings occur: glass breaks, silly women scream, those-who-didn’t-listen meet their well-deserved fate, and our heroes prevail, broken but unbowed. It was a lot of fun.

One fly in the ointment was the character of Toni Merrill, Dr. West’s girlfriend. We first see her wearing nothing but a man’s shirt. Oh, dear. What has been going on? No, not that. Clumsy Dr. West spilled wine on her dress, and it’s hanging in the bathroom to dry.

Later, she provides the helicopter that allows them to get to the island. She’s pretty useless once they arrive. Dr. West assigns the job of calming the villagers in the city hall, and she nurses Dr. Stanley when he’s wounded, but aside from that, she’s the stereotypical hysterical female in the face of danger, who imperils those around her. She clings to the lapels of the menfolk like a piece of lint. ARGH.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie notwithstanding its flaws. It was fun.


Title: Island of Terror (1966)

Directed by
Terence Fisher

Writing Credits
Edward Mann…(original story) (as Edward Andrew Mann) and
Al Ramsen…(original story) (as Allan Ramsen)
Edward Mann…(screenplay) (as Edward Andrew Mann) and
Al Ramsen…(screenplay) (as Allan Ramsen)

Cast (in credits order)
Peter Cushing…Dr. Brian Stanley
Edward Judd…Dr. David West
Carole Gray…Toni Merrill
Eddie Byrne…Dr. Reginald Landers
Sam Kydd…Constable John Harris

Released: February 1, 1967
Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

2 thoughts on “Review of Island of Terror (1966)

    1. It was a lot of fun. The dearly beloved and I were speculating on the probability of mind-melding with the silicates and seeing nothing there. Or hearing them burp after consuming all those cow bones.

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