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Island Of Terror [Blu-ray]
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When the inhabitants of Petrie`s island succumb to a mysterious disease, doctors Brian Stanley (Peter Cushing) and David West (Edward Judd) are asked to investigate. Puncture marks on the corpses reveal the horrifying truth: the islanders and their animals are being killed not by a disease, but by a strange type of silicate organism that sucks the bone from their bodies. As the death toll rises the seemingly indestructible creatures multiply at an alarming rate. Stanley and west lead the desperate islanders in a fight for survival as the unstoppable silicates threaten to engulf the island, and then the world..
`An immensely enjoyable sci-fi.` --DVDtalk.com
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Terence Fisher's classic 1966 horror/sci-fi crossover 'Island of Terror' makes its HD debut here on a region free Blu ray disc from UK label Odean Entertainment. As a footnote it is worth mentioning that despite the PG certificate this is in actual fact the full uncut version featuring the hand amputation by axe and the subsequent blood spurt that has been absent from all UK prints since the original theatrical release.
On a small, wind swept island off the the coast of mainland Ireland the lone local policeman searches for a lost farmer reported missing by his distraught wife. On finding a body mangled into a cave the islands solitary doctor is called to determine the cause of death, a question he cannot answer apart from noting that the body bears no traces of bone. Unable to provide a logical explanation he calls on renowned pathologist Dr.Brian Stanley (Peter Cushing) who also recommends the services of rare bone disease expert Dr.David West (Edward Judd) to solve the peculiar problem affecting the islands inhabitants. With David West's latest squeeze offering the use of her fathers helicopter on the condition she joins the three doctors they arrive at their destination and immediately begin to try and solve the mystery which has now heightened thanks to farm livestock being affected by the bizarre disease. On discovering that a scientist has set up a research laboratory in the cellar of a nearby stately home the doctors decide to pay him a visit on the off chance they could make use his facilities but discover more than they expected as well as the epicentre of the strange happenings. It appears that the scientist had been working on a cure for cancer but had inadvertently created a living organism which needs to feed off the calcium in bones to survive and which had been the cause of the unknown condition affecting the island and its inhabitants. Coming face to face with the creature and realising that it is virtually indestructible and to make matters worse multipling at an alarming rate, the fate of the community lies in the hands of the doctors and a handful of islanders to find a way of destroying the highly radioactive fiends before they take over the island and the world.
One of two pictures directed by Hammer regular Terence Fisher for the small UK production company Planet Films, Island of Terror is a decent, fun little science runs amok creature feature that would make a great double bill with any of Hammer's Quatermass films or the brain sucking 1958 produced Fiend Without A Face of which its shares some extremely uncanny resemblances. Well made with a wonderful atmosphere and perceivance of isolation, Island of Terror also provides some decidedly grim visuals of contorted cadavers as well as the aforementioned showstopping gore scene which really do question the films rather lenient BBFC PG certificate. Although not particularly frightening in themselves, the slow moving creatures dubbed Silicates which resemble a cross between a giant tortoise and an armadillo are passable considering the age and budget of the production and also produce some rather unnerving and often repulsive gurgles and slurps as they devour their victims as well as providing some of the gooiest special effects scenes in the movie as they split and multiply. You definatly will want to give macaroni cheese a miss after viewing this one. The main cast are all good with Cushing and Judd being the two bankable marquee names, both of which nail the often hammy lines of dialogue and provide great responces of shock and wonder to the painfully slow moving Silocates as they advance on the group. The remainder of the cast are all fine despite an odd mix of regional accents which rarely sound like the residents of an Irish island but are probably as plausible as the rather hokey science on display. There are a few moments of unintentional hilarity as Silocates launch themselves from trees onto unsuspecting victims and attack a heard of cows but for the most part this is fast paced with a few well placed shocks building to a finalé involving a besieged village hall.
I had previously owned the uncut German import DVD (I passed on the cut UK release from DD Video) which left alot to be desired featuring a washed out and incorrectly framed transfer. This new AVC encoded MPEG 4 Blu ray which was restored at Pinewood Studios is a vast improvement and is also correctly framed at the intended 1.66:1 widescreen aspect ratio with window boxing to the sides so as to retain all the information in the frame. Presented in full HD 1080p the opening still sports a slightly washed out appearance but detail tightens up immensely with some strong textures from muddy fields and ivy strewn buildings through to worn wooden fishing boats, brickwork and rocky outcrops. Interiors take on a softer form but are still better than DVD could relate and are more than likely accurate to the original shooting conditions with realistic rendering of period decor and various laboratory equipment. Close ups are supported well with revealing details on faces, hair and clothing not to mention the thick rubbery skin of the Silocates and the whole image looks solid and fairly dimensional exporting a smidgen of depth. The colour palette is fairly subdued throughout the running time but looks authentic enough here if a little bleak and skin tones are as natural as a mid 60s picture could be. Black levels are acceptable if slighly grey at times with some notable crush (the dark blue jacket of the policeman against a dim background springs to mind) but some nighttime segments look decent enough with fair shadow detail that would have been lost in standard definition. The image looks mostly untampered with and the thick grain structure has been left intact. The encode seems good, the bitrate is average and the source used appears to have been in good condition apart from some fading towards the left-hand side of the frame. I can't honestly see this looking better anytime soon.
Odean Entertainment remain authentic with the sound mix and have presented Island of Terror in an uncompressed 2.0 channel LPCM interpretation of its original mono. There isn't a whole lot to say about this other than dialogue is always clear, music is appropriately robust and the sounds of the Silocates carry some weight as does the blasts from shotguns and exploding dynamite. There is no distortion, hiss or noticeable clipping and on the whole sounds crisp and clear.
The supplementary features on this Blu ray are a little sparce with nothing more than an image gallery and trailer. Odean kind of make up for this though with a nicely produced booklet featuring text, photographs, poster reproductions and an interview with the producer of Island of Terror Richard Gordon.
Providing a few chills and the odd splash of gore Island of Terror is an entertaining and atmospheric enough slice of sc-fi/horror hokum that hasent aged particularly well but will be of interest to fans of Hammer films productions down to the presence of regular contributors, star Peter Cushing and director Terence Fisher . This Blu ray from Odean Entertainment presents the best looking version I have ever seen of this movie and for the first time in the UK is completely uncut and uncensored and in its correct aspect ratio. The disc is a little scant in the extras department but the included glossy booklet is nicely produced. Recommended.
It's a typical low-budget British Sci-fi/horror from the mid 60's, with all the usual features - a mysterious laboratory (with isotopes), strange deaths and geiger-counters. Not a brilliant film really, but director Terence Fisher brings his Hammer experience to this Planet Productions film, passing 90 minutes in a fairly entertaining manner and it gave us a chance to 'spot the faces'. The ubiquitous Sam Kydd is there, as is Niall MacGinnes looking somewhat like a retired butcher. I liked the way that early on in the story, we are carefully informed (via some banter) that the boat only goes there once a week and there are no telephones on the island. Unusually for a cheap release, there's a very informative booklet which I enjoyed. Extras consist of the original trailer and a picture gallery. And it's on Blu-ray! If nothing else, these 50s/60s cheapies are a great way to pass an evening with some wine and snacks.
This can't take away from a really well developed and very fun movie. Sure Island of Terror has taken many moments from 1950s B movies and is hardly original, but there isn't one boring moment at all and the body count sure does pile up here. It's also refreshing to spend the movie early on with the monsters and not have to wait until the final minute for the 'reveal'.
The climax of the movie is a slight letdown only in the fact that the movie suddenly ends without much clarification, but this is a small snag given that for the previous 80 odd minutes we are duly entertained.
This is the edition to go for as we are treated to a superb Christopher Lee interview on the extras where he talks about the great Terence Fisher, who of course directed Lee several times and directed this movie. There is also viewing notes which go into detail about the movie. Great stuff.
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