on 16 August 2009
Made by obscure British company 'Planet Productions' this great little flick features a grotesque set of creatures to terrorize a high-class cast.
True the 'Silicates' are rather funny looking, like huge rubber cow pats with a vacuum cleaner attachments that they use to grab their victims with, and suffer from the old zombie problem of moving very slowly, but they make for a wonderful sight gliding along in search of food and the manner of death they deal out is so horrible that damaging humour is kept at bay.
There are some great attack sequences as various cast members are digested with nicely disgusting slurping sounds by the creatures whom during one sequence even drop out of the trees! They are a bizarre and wonderfully entertaining creation.
The cast is in top form with Cushing in particular giving us a delightful turn as the pathologist with a welcome streak of gentle humour. It's a role that only Cushing could play with this amount of laid back ease and he is a joy to watch.
Edward Judd is nicely stoic and handles his scenes with Cushing well, showing he was a much-underused actor.
Add to all this a lean and never wasted running time, a suitably manic and funky soundtrack composition plus a typically cynical '60s epilogue and you have a film that should be much more widely known and available.
All hail this DVD release.
In these days where the UK only makes small scale independent, and normally U.S influenced horror films this movie reminds us that Britain once produced some unique and delightfully entertaining genre pieces.
NOTE: The DVD is the uncut UK print and does not feature the (only partially effective) on screen insert of a hand being cut off added for export.
In this review I'll be assuming that you are familiar with this classic British monster flick, or you wouldn't be thinking of a blu ray version. If you haven't seen it, you should before you buy, because you may not appreciate it. But if you relished Hammer's horror movies or Quatermass, you will probably find this highly entertaining.
I already have this film on dvd in the Masters of Horror Collector's Edition, and I have to say that version does score over this in a few ways. Firstly the extras on the blu ray are just an image gallery and a trailer, wile the dvd release has an interview with Christopher Lee. On the other hand since Lee isn't actually in this film, that extra wasn't really appropriate. Plus the booklet with the dvd is bigger, more colourful, and has some juicy pictures of the various posters for the movie. On the other hand, it isn't actually as informative about the film, so I can live with the blu ray version.
It's with the picture and sound that this version comes into its own. The picture is superb, clear and sharp without turning the cast into plastic toy versions of themselves. Detail is beautifully clear, and the colour is well balanced; vibrant without being garish. The sound on my tv set (I don't have any external speakers, just standard built-in) comes across as more enhanced mono than anything, but having watched the dvd version - which was in itself a huge improvement on the vhs release - I'd say this is sharper and has been noticeably cleaned up here and there. One tiny flaw I spotted was that in one scene (involving armed humans versus monsters in the woodlands) the picture completely blanks out for a second, leaving a white screen. I assume this is some error that crept in during remastering, but it is such a brief flash that I don't feel it spoils it (especially having viewed the badly worn and damaged copies that have been broadcast on tv over the years, and on which the video release was based). I enjoyed every minute of it and thought it was well worth the money.
Directed by horror legend Terence Fisher and starring Peter Cushing and Edward Judd, this is a nice little tale of Sci-Fi hokum.
On a remote island, a scientist is investigating cancer cures. The experiments go horribly wrong, and he accidentally creates a species of silicates who go round sucking the bones from people's bodies. Cue the arrival of Cushing and Judd, eminent London surgeons summoned by the Island's doctor to help diagnose the cause of death of the bodies mysteriously popping up all over the island.
The remote island setting gives it a nice claustrophobic setting, which adds nicely to the suspense. The whole film turns on the performances of Cushing, who was always able to inject even the most absurd scripts with some plausibility, and Judd who is an effective action man hero. I always quite liked the silicates, though others have derided them. OK, so actors visibly clutch them to themselves when being attacked, but apart from that they're pretty creepy.
DVD presentation is OK, the picture is a bit grainy at times. It is in 16:9 widescreen with a mono soundtrack. Features are limited to an interview with Christopher Lee, who famously worked with both Cushing and Fisher. There is an interesting 24 pg booklet discussing the genesis of the film.
A regular feature of late night TV in my youth, this is still a great 90 minutes of atmospheric, entertaining fun, just don't take it too seriously.
on 20 October 2007
One of Terence Fisher's less familiar but most enjoyable movies, Island of Terror (1966) was made for Planet Film Productions, a short-lived 1960s' rival to Hammer. Starring Peter Cushing and Edward Judd as scientists investigating a spate of grisly deaths on an isolated Irish island, the film owes more to Nigel Kneale's Quatermass serials and the novels of John Wyndham than it does to the gothic flamboyance of Fisher's best horror films. A well-plotted and exciting sci-fi flick, featuring some primitive but gruesome special effects and plenty of wry humour, it also has nice supporting roles for unappreciated British character actors like Niall MacGinnis and Sam Kydd, a charming female lead in the lovely Carole Gray (Devils of Darkness), and an action-packed climax involving the massacre of a herd of radioactive cows (don't ask).
This DVD edition of Island of Terror is a pleasant surprise in terms of extras, featuring a theatrical trailer and an in-depth booklet that discusses the making of the movie and the history of the company behind it. It also includes an interview with Christopher Lee (who isn't in the film, by the way), in which he is nominally supposed to be discussing the movies he made with Terence Fisher. Whilst not a total waste of time, the interview does make for a frustrating, slightly embarrassing experience, as Lee continually wanders from the subjects that film writer Marcus Hearn asks him about. For instance, when asked about the Hammer Dracula movies he made with Fisher, Lee dismisses them with a few words and then starts to talk about Jesus Franco's atrocious, Spanish-made El Conde Dracula instead, a film he inexplicably prefers. Not for the first time, Lee inadvertently proves that many fans and critics have a far better knowledge and appreciation of his best work than he does.
on 5 April 2015
***Please note that the following review is for the UK Blu ray release.***
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.
on 23 December 2014
I'm 54. I remember watching this as a kid numerous times and loving every second even then.
Of the 50's and 60's British sci-fi movies I love so much this is easily in my top 10 along
with Night of the Big Heat, Day the Earth Caught Fire, and all 3 Quatermass movies.
I'm very happy to say that thanks to recent releases I now have 5 of those 6 on BluRay.
Keep 'em coming!
Back to the movie, Terence Fisher and 'Planet Productions did an awesome job here and thank
goodness for Edward Judd and Peter Cushing.
Oh yeah, and the eye candy is very ably provided by the yummylicious Carole Gray.
Even the silicates would spare her!
So if you want a very enjoyable fun time for your movie viewing this is your winner. enjoy!
on 9 July 2015
I first heard this film reviewed when I was a 13-year-old in 1966, while listening to the radio. It sounded fantastic but somehow I've never seen it in all the years since then....until now, courtesy of a Blu-ray.
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.
on 26 February 2012
I have watched this film several times, don't really know why, each time though I have enjoyed it.It's very silly, the silicates are laughable, especially when one drops from a tree onto an unsuspecting villager, and starts sucking out his bones, yet it has a definite appeal. All the cast are excellent, good to see Niall Macginnis ( Julian Karswell from the excellent Night of the Demon ) I understand the filming took place in the same location as The Night of the Big Heat, another movie I have watched several times over the years.
The version I have in my collection has suffered from unnecessary cuts, Peter Cushing's hand removal by an axe wielding Edward Judd, why do they make these cuts ?
I have perhaps drawn a conclusion, it's an age thing, the time, the actors, the cars all of which fills me with nostagia and good memories of that bygone period, when horror was still relatively innocent, no need for too much smut,or gratuitous violence, just good old entertaining nonsense, that's way we liked it then.
If you are an old film fan and haven't seen this one do buy it and enjoy.
on 26 November 2015
Superior British horror movie which sees the great Peter Cushing and Edward Judd called to a small island to investigate mysterious deaths where bodies pile up melted without bones. Island of Terror has an engaging cast, thought out scenes and plenty of 'monsters'. On reflection you will laugh at the hideous things and there are plenty of funny moments, though they are probably unintentional. But one can believe that if Peter Cushing were alive today he would be laughing with us.
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.
on 6 November 2014
Love this film and glad to see it on blu ray. I strongly suspect that this is the only shot this title will have for BD release, so get it while you can.
Evidently, this title has been restored by Pinewood Studios and the print used is fairly pristine.
Any other owners notice a yellow cast to the image throughout, especially on the left half of the screen? I've only ever seen Universal's official release of this title and it does not have this strange effect. I see that others mention that the color is fine on this release, but it doesn't look quite right to me. Sometimes skin tones trend toward yellow. Is this due to print fading?
Still, hats off to Odeon for releasing this.