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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mutated villagers with prosthetic foam on their heads!, 6 Jan 2013
This review is from: Doomwatch [DVD][1972] (DVD)
A spin-off from the popular seventies TV show here. The show ran for three series in the early seventies, and after transmission, the BBC, in their infinite wisdom, wiped all the episodes. Some now survive, but the most significant fragment is this film. In case you've never seen or heard of Doomwatch, it is a fictional government department dedicated to investigating and negating cases of pollution, ecological problems, strange animal diseases etc. In the TV show the team came up against all sorts of weird, and perhaps plausible stuff, which makes it seem even more odd that for the big-screen version they have chosen a fairly simple, if occasionally sinister, story.

After an oil leak Ian Bannen [who wasn't in the TV series] arrives on the island of Balfe, just off the Cornish coast, to investigate what effects the oil has had on local wildlife. However, he finds much more, when the locals are actively hostile to him, someone is following him around the island with a gun, and, later, he discovers a hastily-buried body. Further investigations disclose that a pituatary growth hormone is making the local fish overgrown, and poisoning the islanders, making them deformed, suspicious and just generally very grumpy.

The film flits between Bannen [and Judy Geeson, who plays a schoolteacher] and his investigations on the island, and talks and meetings between the rest of Doomwatch [here the cast of the original TV show got a look in] and the Ministry of Defence and other organisations, trying to track down who is responsible on the mainland where George Sanders pops up as an important CEO-type.

The film is quite good, enjoyable, and gets into the mystery on the island pretty much straight away. Aside from the mysterious atmnosphere there's not much on offer for horror fans until the ending, where all the previously-concealed mutated villagers with prosthetic foam on their heads come out to menace Bannen and Geeson. The conclusion itself is quite downbeat, but probably necessarily so, for any kind of moral impact to be made. Being a Tigon film, this has the 70's British feel about it, and Bannen gets quite emotional in his role. The actor is more well-known nowadays from his part in WAKING NED, and died in a car crash in 1999 near Loch Ness.

For the British film fan, and especially for those who fondly remember the series, this is a reasonable and unhurried way to pass an hour and a half.

Just a further note; the DVD here on Amazon is pretty expensive, especially seeing as other reviewers have mentioned the sound errors: wait for it to pop up on TV.
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3.1 out of 5 stars (18 customer reviews)
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Location: Durham, England

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