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Island of Terror  


Title: Island of Terror
Year Of Release: 1966
Running Time: 89 minutes
Blu-ray Released By: Scream Factory
Directed By: Terence Fisher
Writing Credits: Edward Mann & Al Ramsen (original story & screenplay)

Starring: Peter Cushing, Edward Judd, Carole Gray, Eddie Byrne
Taglines:
1. How could they stop the devouring death...that lived by sucking on living human bones!
2. They lived by eating human bones!
Alternate Titles:
1. Night of the Silicates
2. The Creepers
3. The Night the Creatures Came
4. The Night the Silicates Came

Review Date: 6.25.20

Shadow's Title: "Land of Error"

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Blu-Ray
Island of Terror

 

Region 2 DVD
Island of Terror

Please note that the Scream Factory Blu-ray release of the film was used for this review. However, all images were taken from a DVD rip, becasue as of now I do not possess the ability to image capture from Blu-rays. 

Characters Note: For this review, rather than list the HUMAN characters in descending order from most important to least as I usually do, I decided to list them in the order they impacted the story.


Doctor Lawrence Phillips – This guy has set up a lab on Petrie’s Island in order to research a cure for cancer. He and his team keep to themselves, only appearing at the dock to take possession of any supplies they have ordered. Naturally, this makes the locals a wee bit uneasy, and with good reason. His research leads to a horrible and damn near unstoppable menace, and no I don’t mean the KISS Army.
Ian Bellows – The first person to encounter the Silicates. He was just walking home at night in the fog when he heard an eerie sound. He goes to investigate and BOOM, just like that he’s laid out without any bones, his body all squishy. While some men can live without a spine (and go far in politics), having your entire skeleton removed seems to be fatal.
Constable John Harris – The only law officer on the island, which seems to be a cushy job since in his own words, he has nothing to do unless “Andy McCraken has a wee drop too much and tries to break up the pub.” Depending on how much of a drunk this McCraken character is, that could make for plenty of time to oneself. He finds Ian Bellows’ squishy body when out looking for the missing man.
Doctor Reginald Landers – He has lived on the island for ten years and is still considered a newcomer. Much like the Constable, has a lot of free time on his hands, which he fills by reading, fishing and smoking his pipe since there are no golf courses on the island. The Constable even suggests that they take up chess together to pass time. He examines Ian Bellows’ squishy body and is stumped at what he finds.
Doctor Brian Stanley – He teaches at a university in London. Landers goes to him with the mystery of Ian Bellows’ squishy body, hoping he has an explanation for such a death, but he does not. He returns to the island with Landers to tackle the problem and is instrumental in figuring out a solution to the problem posed by the Silicates.
Doctor David West – He’s the leading expert on bone disease. He is also a playboy who loves fast cars and faster women. Brian Stanley recruits him to help solve the mystery of Ian Bellows’ squishy body. He returns to the island with the others and pretty much takes charge of the situation as it rapidly deteriorates.
Toni Merrill – A socialite with a rich father, she most likely spends her days spending daddy’s money. She takes a shining to David West, but before they can shag, he gets caught up in the mystery of Ian Bellows’ squishy body. Wanting to be involved, she offers the use of her father’s helicopter to ferry everyone back to the island. Once there, as the sole female in the cast, she assumes frightened, panicky woman duties.
Peter Argyle – He owns and runs the local market on the island. It’s to him that locals give their supply orders, which can often take several weeks to fill. Having such a prominent position on the island makes him one of the community leaders along with Roger Campbell. He seems to have a cool head and maintains his composure through all the chaos that unfolds after the discovery of Ian Bellows' squishy body.
Roger Campbell – He is the head of the island, which I guess is sort of like being the mayor or something like that. One would think that he would not believe the wild tale told to him about Ian Bellows’ squishy body and those that followed, nor would he put much stock in the idea of monsters roaming the island, but surprise, he does cooperate quite quickly with Brian and David and does what he can to end the crisis.
Archie Morton – A local farmer that finds one of his horses dead, in a state just like Ian Bellows’ squishy body. He later gets a little too enthusiastic when trying to kill the Silicates, and ends up as the landing pad for one hurtling out of a tree. He joins Ian Bellows in squishyhood.
Halsey – Another one of the locals. He had nothing to do with the events surrounding Ian Bellows’ squishy body and was just another villager caught up in the nightmare of the silicates. Alas, he ended up being the film’s resident chickenshit (all monster flicks have to have at least one) and suffered the fate of chickenshits everywhere: death. In this case, death by squishyness.
The Silicates – The monsters created accidentally by Dr. Phillips. They inject enzymes into their victims that dissolves all bone matter, then they suck it out as a tasty treat, leaving behind a squishy body without any bones…just ask Ian Bellows!

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

Manhattan’s new 2020 slogan.Things begin on (fictional) Petrie’s Island somewhere off the east coast of Ireland. The place is home to a small group of farmers and fisherman. Some of the locals have gathered at the small port as goods are being offloaded from the supply ship, including local market owner Peter Argyle, Farmer Ian Bellows, Head of the island Roger Campbell, Doctor Reginald Landers and Constable John Harris. From their conversation we learn several things about life on the island: the supply ship comes only once a week, which Ian thinks is too seldom; there are no phones on the island, both Dr. Landers and Constable Harris are bored much of the time with little to do and despite having lived on the island for ten years, Landers is still considered a newcomer by the rest of the locals. It seems like a decent place to live, if you go for secluded locales like I do (though I would absolutely need my internet).

Also making the island home is a Dr. Phillips and his team of researchers. They are down at the port to retrieve some newly arrived equipment. They have set up shop in a large mansion further inland and pretty much keep to themselves. The locals wish that Phillips and his crew would be a bit more friendly, but Dr. Landers explains that is just how researchers are: they love their seclusion.

We turn our attention to Phillips and his team at work in their lab, fiddling with all their scientific instruments. Phillips remarks that the cell cultures are prepared and they are ready to begin. One of the other researchers asks about Rome, New York and Tokyo, wondering if they are proceeding without hearing from them. Phillips says yes and that he has sent them full reports. They will begin in the morning. So apparently, there are several labs around the world all working on the same project, in tandem with one another. Phillips’ lab seems to be taking the lead. After some more technobabble talk, Phillips exclaims that if they are successful today, they very well may have the cure for cancer.

And on that note the screen fades to red. There is the sound effect of glass shattering and a quick single frame shot of the lab with everyone lying dead on the floor. We get our title card and opening credits, along with music that just about blew my ears out, it came on so unexpectedly loud.

When we fade in again we see Ian Bellows walking home in the dark, the fog beginning to rise. He’s traversing a wooded area with plenty of rocky formations and after hearing a strange sound, he pauses and looks around. The odd – and if I must say, creepy – sound is coming from an opening between some large rocks nearby. It seems that it opens up into a cave, so lifting his lantern, Ian walks inside. The cave passage turns to the left and as Ian walks inside, he turns the corner and is out of sight. We then hear an intense slurping sound which must be similar to Jabba the Hutt sucking up a thick milkshake Ian lets out a series of painful cries that reminds me of a man who is told his mother-in-law is coming to stay for an extended visit. We see the light from Ian’s lantern bounce around quite a bit, proving that he is having a physical altercation with something. There is a loud, dull thud and all we hear is more of that intense slurping.

We cut over to Constable Harris’ place, where the good Constable seems to enjoying a pint. There is a knock at the door, which turns out to Mrs. Bellows, worried about Ian, who is three hours late in coming home. The Constable asks if she tried the pub and she says yes and that she has also been all around the village and cannot locate her husband. He tells her to go on home and that he will go out and take a look for her husband, starting up intheir north field – near the Phillips house (CLUE!).

So the Constable jumps on his bike and begins his search. When he gets to the location where Ian heard the strange sounds, he stops, gets off his bike and looks around, calling out to Ian. There is no reply and the strange sounds can no longer be heard. As he searches he spots something near some rocks. It appears to be a body, but it is rather flat in appearance. He produces his nightstick and pokes at the body, but there is no resistance to his pushing at it. He makes a sickened look as if he just swallowed milk and scotch at the same time and then beats a hasty retreat, hopping on his bike and peddling away like the devil was after him.

It should be noted that Ian Bellows’ body is no longer within the cave. When he entered just a few minutes ago, he rounded a corner and was completely out of sight when he was attacked. Now his squishy corpse is laid out adjacent to some trees near the mouth of the cave. How kind of his killer (or killers) to drag his body out in the open for the authorities (well, the authority) to find.

The good Constable goes to see Dr. Landers, who is at home and examining a new fishing rod he purchased. The Doc is also wearing a smoking jacket and is puffing away on a pipe. The Constable bangs on the door with more fervor and insistence than a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses, calling out for the Doc. Landers lets him and Harris explains to him the state of Ian Bellows’ body. Landers is slightly skeptical, but he can see that the Constable has been shaken by what he saw, so he agrees to accompany him back to where he found the body.

Poof! Just like that we’re back at the body. The Constable and Landers look it over and while they agree that the clothes belong to Ian Bellows, they can’t be sure that it is him. As far as Landers can tell, the body has no bones in it. They bring the body back to Landers’ office where the doctor makes a more thorough examination. He concludes that it is definitely Ian. He agrees to accompany the Constable on his trip to tell Mrs. Bellows that her husband is dead, but he doesn’t want Harris to mention the condition of the body. In fact, he doesn’t want Harris to mention this to anyone until he can figure out with what they are dealing, though he suspects some sort of disease. He wants to go to Dr. Phillips for help and if that proves unfruitful, he’ll take the emergency launch to the mainland in order to consult with a Brian Stanley in London, Britain’s most eminent pathologist.

We turn our attention to London where Brain Stanley is teaching a class at some university. As he finishes up, Landers arrives. The fact that he is here shows us that the Phillips lab was of no help. He explains to Brian who he is and where he is from and then asks if he knows of any disease that could completely dissolve human bone. Brian answers no and is just as puzzled as Landers when he hears the details of the case. He then suggests they see a David West, who is the most qualified man on bone disease that Brian knows.

Now we pop on over to see David West at home, who is entertaining a hot young brunette by the name of Toni Merrill. It appears that Toni got a stain on her dress when David opened a bottle of wine and has to change into one of David’s shirts, which barely accomplishes the task of covering her body. It seems David is a man who likes fast cars, fast women and has the money to spend on such things. After some innuendo-laden talk about cars, they start smashing their faces together in an awkward kiss when the door buzzer can be heard. Annoyed that potential boom-boom has been delayed, David goes to answer the door while Toni ducks back into the bedroom to don David’s bathrobe.

“Hello, would you like to read the Watchtower?”At the door are Landers and Brian. David invites them inside and Brian says that Landers has quite the problem for him. David seems a bit reluctant to hear more, no doubt wanting them to leave so he can bang Toni, who chooses this moment to enter the room. Brian explains about the boneless body, but David at first thinks it’s a joke. When Brian and Landers maintain the seriousness of it all, he becomes more fascinated and says that he would like to see the body. The others were planning on returning that night, but they would have to charter a plane. Toni then offers the use of her father’s private helicopter, on the condition that she gets to tag along as well. The others don’t think that is a good idea, but she insists, so they relent.

POW! Just like that we’re at the landing pad where the helicopter pilot is informing them that he won’t be able to wait for them as Toni’s father needs the vehicle first thing in the morning. He will come back for them in a couple of days. Landers says that this means they will be completely cut off from the mainland, since he won’t be taking the emergency launch back with him. They hop aboard and away they go.

Back on the island, Constable Harris is waiting and hears the chopper approaching. He then lights a signal fire for the aircraft as Landers had instructed before he left. The chopper lands in a field, everyone disembarks and the aircraft flies away. Landers introduces the newcomers to the Constable, who informs him that Dr. Phillips still won’t answer his calls (calls in person, I assume since the island has no phones). Landers then explains that this island is where Dr. Philips set up his lab for his cancer research. Brian and David think he could be of great help, if they can ever contact him. First, though, David wants to see the body.

We now jump to Landers’ clinic, where the body of Ian Bellows is uncovered for the whole world to see. We get a brief glimpse of his spongy head, which resembles a Halloween mask you might find at a Spirit Halloween store. David cuts into the body using scalpels for further examination. Later, Brian finds something odd: micro punctures in a segment of skin. Subsequent analysis of other skin samples shows all of them having the same punctures. Davis theorizes that some type of enzyme was introduced into the body through the punctures. An enzyme that attacks and breaks down the calcium phosphate – a major component of human bone. All of this is just a theory at this stage and David wishes for more complete lab facilities. Landers suggests the Phillips lab, which is supposedly decked out quite well with scientific gear, equipment and doo-dads, though he adds that Phillips is quite the recluse. Brian assures them that Phillips will let him in, so I’m guessing Brain and Phillips are well acquainted with one another.

About now the lights flicker and Landers says that they have been having trouble with the generator as of late. This seems to imply that all electrical power on the island is produced by a single generator. Tell me that won’t come back to bite them in the ass later! The three of them agree to head to the Phillips lab, with Landers leaving a note at Constable Harris’ place so he knows where they went.

I just noticed how many of the islanders have names ending with the letter S: Harris, Landers, Bellows and Phillips. Not a big deal, but when I’m typing fast and trying to use an apostrophe to signify the possessive form of a name (example: Harris’ place), I keep having to go back and correct it.

The Phillips lab is far enough away that they have to take Landers' car to get there. Along the way David complains about the chill weather and Landers confirms my suspicion about the electrical generator: it’s the only one on the island. They arrive at the Phillips place, which is a huge mansion that Brian likens to Wuthering Heights. They ring the bell but there is no answer. Brian then pokes around and finds a loose window, which he opens. He climbs inside and as he is making his way through the dark house to the front door in order to let the others inside, he stumbles upon a body on the floor. A body that is obviously missing all its bones.

Brian turns on the lights and lets in the others. They give the corpse a cursory look and then set out to find the lab. Brian opens a door and finds some stone stairs leading down into an underground complex. The group head down and find a door that has KEEP OUT RADIATION DANGER on it. So what do they do? Naturally, they open it up and peek inside. Alas, it’s just a room where isotopes are stored. Further on down the hall there is a door to the left marked LAB. At the end of the hall is another door, which has been left ajar.

The group enters the lab and find three more boneless bodies and a considerable mess. Reasoning that Phillips had no contact with the island’s villagers, David thinks they can rule out any sort of contagion. Brian surmises that whatever it is, it started in this lab. Landers points out that Ian Bellows died not far from here and whatever it is, it might be moving down the length of the island. David comments on the state of the lab, saying that the dead men had either been fighting something or their death throes were quite violent. Brian suggests they collect Phillips’ notes and study them, as it could give them a lead on what happened. They all start raiding the file cabinets for notes.

Elsewhere, farmer Archie Morton finds the body of one of his horses. Yup, you guessed it, there are no bones. He high-tails it over to Constable Harris’ place, where the Constable is trying to enjoy some tea. He explains to Harris how the animal’s body was all soft and flabby, which of course gets the Constable’s attention. Harris says he will go tell Dr. Landers who – according to the note he received – is at the Phillips place. He then tells Morton to go about his business and not mention this to anyone. He’ll have answers for him later. Morton leaves and Harris skips tea and heads out.

Meanwhile, Landers, Brian and David return to the local inn, where no doubt the latter two have booked accommodations for their stay along with Miss Merrill. Landers leaves again to tell the Constable that they are back while the other two begin pouring over the extensive notes they brought back with them.

“I wonder if there are any cute bunnies in here…”“That’s not a bunny!”Alas, the Constable is no longer home and we see him on his bike as he approaches the mansion where the Phillips lab is located. He parks his bike, tries the bell and then tries the door, which opens. He enters and sees the body that Brian nearly tripped over earlier. He looks around and calls out for Landers, but there is no reply. He finds his way down into the lab complex, but as he is about to enter the lab, he hears a strange sound. It’s the same ominous sound that Ian Bellows heard emanating from that cave, only now it’s coming from the room at the end of the hall. The room with the door slightly ajar. I’m guessing the others never checked in that room when they were here earlier. So the constable makes his way down the hall and we see that the door says TEST ANIMALS on it. He cautiously enters, but has barely taken three steps when a tentacle-like appendage drops from the ceiling and grabs him by the throat. He screams and we hear that intense slurping sound again. Scratch one Constable.

Landers finds that the Constable is not at his office, so he then heads down to the docks where he sees Peter Argyle and Archie Morton. He asks if they have seen the Constable and Morton tells him that Harris went up to the Phillips place looking for him, to talk about the dead horse. When Landers learns that the dead horse had no bones, he mutters something about “the other side of the island.” When Morton and Peter ask what he means, he tells them that he can’t explain now and then rushes off again. Morton and Peter both think that something peculiar is going on, so the latter goes to see Roger Campbell, who is the head of the island. Campbell plans to talk to a few of the farmers and then see Dr. Landers.

Speaking of Landers, he has returned to the inn in order to inform the others about the dead horse and where it was found as well as mention that the Constable went to the Phillips place looking for them. As for Brian and David, going over the notes hasn’t turned up much, but David does know that Phillips was trying to create some sort of living matter to counter cancer cells. They plan on checking out the dead horse and then finding the Constable at the Phillips lab. Toni now descends the stairs from her room, ready for breakfast. The others have been up all night, having just finished supper. She wants to go with them and reasons that if there is something running loose on this island, she does not want to be left alone.

We jump over to Archie Morton's field where Landers, Brian and David examine the horse while Toni waits in the car. As she sits there, she hears the spooky sound that both Ian Bellows and Constable Harris heard before their untimely demises. There is a thud, as if something just landed on top of the car. She looks around and sees what looks like a colossal booger slide across the rear window towards the ground. She lets loose with a startled yell, which causes the others to come running. She tells them that she saw something on the window. They question her but she is near hysterical and doesn’t have any answers. Brian looks around the rear of the car but finds nothing. He then walks over to some large boulders piled up on the side of the road a few yards ahead of the car. David warns him to not get too close until they know what they’re dealing with. They all pile in the car and head to the Phillips place to get Constable Harris.

Let me pause for a moment to discuss something about this last scene. From the time Toni yelled upon seeing the creature to the time the three men arrived at the car, a total of ten seconds elapsed. As we will see later, the monsters in this film do not move very quickly at all and ten seconds would not be an adequate amount of time for it to move out of sight. It certainly would not have been able to get to those rocks, especially since the rocks are in front of the car and the creature would had to have passed right across the field of vision of the three men as they returned to the vehicle. Even if the creature was at the rear when Toni screamed, waited until the men were standing around the window interrogating her and THEN made a beeline for the rocks along the far side of the car, it would not have had enough time to do so and someone should still have spotted it when it got out in the open. The only conclusion is that it fled into the trees on the far side of the car.

The group now head to the Phillips place. There they find the Constable’s bicycle and the front door open. They head inside and Brian calls out for Harris, but there is no reply. They all go downstairs and from the hallway, they can see Harris’ boneless body in the room at the far end. As they approach, that spooky sound starts up again and they look around in puzzlement. Then a long tentacle appears from within the room and waves around in the air some. They step back and watch as the whole creature emerges from the room. It looks like a big, dark pile of hardened jell-o with a single tentacle protruding from the front. The creature slides across the floor like a giant turd.

“Raar! I’m a Monsta!”The group turns to go but there is another creature waiting for them near the foot of the stairs. They’re trapped! Oh, snap. They huddle in a small alcove that contains an axe and a pair of fire extinguishers while the two critters draw closer. Landers takes up the axe and approaches the creature blocking the stairs. He swings the axe and hits it, but its outer shell is quite hard and it is unharmed. He readies another swing but before he can the creature reaches out with its tentacle, which wraps around Landers’ ankle. Instantly we hear that intense slurping sound. Landers screams, drops the axe and falls forward onto the creature. There is a few seconds of him screaming and then he is gone.

Toni is freaking out bigtime at this point. The two creatures get a wee bit closer and then stop. Each withdraws its tentacle back into its body and then each critter begins to split into two, a process that apparently involves disgorging chicken noodle soup. Brian and David watch in amazement. Brian then picks up the axe left by the late Dr. Landers and steps over the creature (now two) by the stairs. It seems that while dividing, they are not a threat. Brian calls for the others but Toni is too scared to move. David finally has to shove her to get her moving.

The trio race outside where they hear the creatures’ ominous sound. Knowing one is nearby, they pile in the car and…the car won’t start! Tell me if you didn’t see that one coming. David jumps out, pops the hood and starts fiddling with stuff. Brian looks out the window and sees one of the creatures approaching from across the sizable lawn area. He yells for David to hurry. Finally, David finishes up, closes the hood, hops back in the car and...it starts! They race away as if qualifying for the British Grand Prix. Note that as they came rushing out of the house, Brian dropped the axe and it fell to the ground outside near the door. Another thing that strikes me is how lucky they were that Landers left the keys to the car inside the vehicle. He could have taken them with him when they arrived earlier, which would have meant that someone would have to run back down to the lab and rifle through his pants to retrieve them, all while evading the two-now-four monsters that were there. Talk about being lucky.

Later, back at the inn, David is giving Toni a sedative to help her sleep. They talk some and then she passes out. Talk about getting roofied! David heads back down to consult with Brian and go over Phillips’ notes some more. Brian shows him a notation about Phillips’ dog getting an overdose of radiation (CLUE!).

Elsewhere in the village, Roger Campbell and Peter Argyle have returned from their foray. A local named Dunley is looking for his goods at the store and informs them that the last he saw of Dr. Landers, he was with two strangers and a girl. Campbell inquires about these people and Dunley tells them that they came in on “the plane” (actually it was a helicopter you dolt) and that they are probably all over at the inn. Campbell and Peter head in that direction.

They arrive at the inn and introduce themselves to Brian and David. The latter two inform them that Landers and Constable Harris are dead and that there are some dangerous creatures loose on the island, having originated in Phillips’ lab. Aside from that they know very little. David asks Campbell to round up some men and then have all the villagers gather within an hour at the meeting hall. Campbell informs them of more animal deaths, but so far all have been just north of the island center. David realizes the creatures are moving south. Campbell and Peter head out while Brian and David continue to pour over the notes.

Later at the meeting hall, David and Brian address the assembled villagers. Brian explains that Dr. Phillips was trying to create living cells to combat cancer, basing them on the carbon atom. He failed at that, but did succeed in creating an organism based on the silicon atom. These “Silicates” as they have been dubbed, feed on animal bone. He explains how tough these creatures are to kill and how they plan to attack them. He adds how the Silicates divide every six hours, estimating that there are 64 of the creatures currently on the island. By six o’clock that evening there will 128 and 256 by midnight. At that rate, by the end of the week there will be about a million of them. In other words, they are royally screwed. The villagers are upset to hear all this and rightly so. David says that for now, the best way to stop them is to deny them food. Everyone should gather supplies and remain in the meeting hall for now while all the livestock on the island is moved to the south end.

After the meeting, Brian and David meet with Campbell, Peter and the men they rounded up. They make plans to scout out the island and arms themselves with guns, dynamite and petrol (gasoline) bombs. The men head out while Toni stays behind to help organize the supplies and help keep the villagers calm. I don’t know. She was so unhinged earlier, I wonder how she of all people is going to help others keep calm.

When Hefty bags attack!The group heads out and finds a large number of Silicates crossing a field. The first tactic is to shoot them with shotguns, but that does no good. Seeing that they don’t move very fast, Brian approaches the rear side of one in hopes of getting a Geiger counter reading of its trail. He almost buys the farm when one sneaks up through the brush behind him, but evades it when David warns him. At least he determined that there was no sign of radio activity. Next they try the petrol bombs. The first two do nothing, so Archie Morton gets a little closer, perhaps seeking revenge for his horse. He sneaks around a large tree, hoping to take the Silicates by surprise, but the first bomb does nothing. As he readies his second one, a Silicate drops from the lower tree branches right onto him. Intense slurping and death quickly follow.

Seeing one of their own reduced to a jellied flesh bag, the villagers panic and turn to run, Campbell yells at them to remain. They try the dynamite next, but even this does nothing to stop the monsters. Of course, they seem to be using some awfully weak dynamite that doesn't seem to have much more explosive power than your avergae firecracker. It appears as if the Silicates can’t be killed. The only other course of action is to starve them. About now another villager comes running up (it's Dunley, who was looking for his groceries earlier) and says there is a dead Silicate in Parson’s Cove. Not only has it not moved for twenty minutes, but the Great Dane belonging to Dr. Phillips is dead nearby, half eaten. Remembering that Phillips’ notes mentioned the dog being irradiated, Brian grabs the gieger counter and off they go.

At the cove, there is indeed a dead Silicate and it is quite radioactive. The dead dog is radioactive as well. Both are loaded onto a truck and taken back to the clinic. David pops into the meeting hall and tells the gathered villagers that they may have a way to kill the Silicates, but they will need everyone’s help to do so. In the meantime, they should all do as Toni says.

Later at the clinic, after having examined the corpses, they determine that the Silicate has an impenetrable outer shell, yet still radiation killed it somehow. Since the dog was contaminated with Strontium-90 – which effects the bone – the Silicate died after dining on the dog. The question is, how to introduce radiation into the Silicates? David figures they can get the required isotopes from Phillips’ lab and then inject it into the cattle. Once the Silicates eat the cattle, pow, they should die. Brian and David head to the Phillips place to gather the isotopes while Campbell and Peter go to round up the cattle in one spot.

On their way to the Philips place Brian and David see plenty of Silicates along the countryside. They’re able to safely get to the Phillips place. Note now that the axe dropped on the ground earlier by Brian, is now propped up against the outside of the house near the door. I wonder who stopped by to do that? Once they're down in the lab they don protective suits that look like full body condoms…just without any lubricant. Opening the lead vault they remove the strontium-90 and load it into the gun-like thing used to administer it to test animals. Soon enough, they’ve discarded the condom suits and are on their way out. Forgetting the protective gloves, David heads back for them while Brian takes the Strontium-90 gun (which is within a traveling case) to the car. As he loads it into the boot (the trunk for my fellow Americans) a tentacle appears from around the side of the car and grabs him by the wrist. He calls out for David.

David comes running, tosses the gloves in the car and grabs the axe that was left nearby. He hesitates for just a moment and then when Brian extends his arm, he uses the ax to chop off the other man’s hand, just below where the Silicate had grabbed him by the wrist. Blood squirts out of the stump, a shot I’m sure was probably censored somewhere. David then helps Brian into the car and makes a make-shift tourniquet for his stump. He then retrieves the keys and off they go.

You know, Brian is lucky. He had a healthy supply of Plot Armor. Every other time we have seen a person attacked by a Silicate, we hear that slurping sound the instant the creature grabs hold of their victim. Death has followed within a few seconds. Brian however, was grabbed, had enough time to wallow around on the ground, call for David and wait for the other guy to show up with the axe. Now that is some strong Plot Armor. He was immune to the usual demise because the plot required him to survive, otherwise David would have walked outside to find yet another squishy flesh bag.

They return to the clinic were Brian gets his stump bandaged up and he gets shot up with some morphine. David, Campbell and Argyle head over to the stockyard where the cattle have been rounded up. David then injects the Strontium-90 into each cow, having to cut back the amount on the last few in order to make it last.

Everyone gathers at the meeting hall, stringing up lights and fortifying the place for a potential siege by the Silicates. David impresses Campbell with the need to keep all the villagers calm and inside the building. Going outside during the thick of it will mean certain death. Right about then the lights flicker and people start shouting. The new lights they strung up are putting a strain on the generator. David goes to check on Brian while Campbell and Argyle walk amongst the villagers, trying to calm them. I noticed that amongst the crowd are at least three dogs and a couple of young kids. I hope nothing happens to those poor doggies!

“It’s a jolly good thing that you’re right-handed…well, at least for that.Checking on Brian, David tells him that they ran a wee bit short of Strontium-90. At the rate the Silicates are moving, they will arrive around 11:30 PM, about an hour and half away. Meanwhile some of the villagers are getting a wee bit on the jumpy side, especially a guy named Halsey who has seen the monsters and what they did to Archie Morton, amongst others. Campbell does his best to calm them and quietly threatens to smash Halsey’s face in and then throw him outside for the monsters if he doesn’t keep inciting the villagers into a panic.

David and Toni have a moment to talk, and she wonders if they have a chance of survival. David thinks that they do, but it might be rather slim. He then tries to sputter out some sentiment about not being serious about any woman before now, but if they were to get out of this alive…she just tells him to shush for now. Then she tells him that she loves him and they share a smooch. As it is approaching midnight at this point, I suppose there’s no time for a quickie in the supply closet.

 

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

 

David, Campbell and Argyle are outside watching over the cattle from a distance with binoculars. I know it’s supposed to be near midnight, but damn if I don’t see sunlight on the wall behind them. The cattle begin to get restless and sure enough, the Silicates arrive and start dining away on the hapless animals. Alarmingly, David notices that the Silicates have not yet divided, meaning that the absorbed Strontium-90 will be halved when they do, thus cutting its effectiveness by fifty percent. Oh, snap! Finished with the cattle, the Silicates move onward toward the meeting hall, but stop halfway across a large field to divide.

The three head back to the meeting hall and lock things up as tight as they can. Brian is still in the clinic, which seems to be part of the same building and just down a corridor from the larger hall. David informs everyone that it may take some time for the Strontium-90 to work, so they will have to hold out the best that they can. It’s not too long before the Silicates are heard outside and then the generator finally craps out and dies. This is enough to get a bunch of people in a panic. That Halsey guys shouts out, “I’m not staying here!” and bolts for the door. Others follow. Campbell fires off his shotgun to get everyone’s attention. He orders everyone to stay where they are and that he will shoot anyone who tries to open a door or window. Look closely and you'll notice that Halsey seems to bounce around the place from shot to shot.

A scene featured only in the Japanese release.The Silicates can be seen right outside the window. People scream as they smash through the glass, several tentacles grabbing the unfortunate Halsey. SLURP SLURP SLURP. That’s what you get for being a chickenshit! Another Silicate breaks through a glass window on the roof, to land on another poor bastard. That’s it! People begin running for the corridor. David yells to get as many inside the clinic as possible. A bunch barricade themselves inside the clinic, including Brian, David, Toni, Campbell, Argyle and several villagers. However, it is not nearly the same number we saw gathered in the meeting hall a moment earlier. Either a whole bunch of people managed to escape via a different route, or there is now a large pile of squishy flesh bags littered around the place. I really have to wonder why no one thought of barricading the windows. Such an easy way for the Silicates to gain entrance was just flat out overlooked. Less people would have died if the Silicates had been delayed a few minutes longer. Hell, I think everyone would have lived.

Brian tries to console Toni, who is frightened nearly to wits end. Knowing that this is it and that there is no place else to go, David prepares a syringe. Brian glances at Toni, gives David a knowing look and nods. I guess the syringe is either filled with something lethal or something that will render her instantly unconscious. Either way, she will be spared the horror of being fed upon by the Silicates. David approaches Toni, who is unaware of his actions. Just as he is about to inject her in the neck, Campbell cries out that the Silicates appear to be getting weaker. Indeed, the Silicates are weakening and within a few moments all of them are now quite dead. I hope those doggies made it out alive.

Sometime later, the helicopter returns. David tells Campbell that once they get on board, they will radio the mainland for help. Assistance should arrive by the afternoon. Campbell wishes that Dr. Phillips hadn’t started this whole thing. David now makes the mandatory statement about how Phillips was just trying to help humanity, and while in science there are risks, it should not be enough to hinder progress. When Brian asks if the entire island has been searched, Argyle answers yes, several times. He’s certain all the Silicates are dead.

David and Toni now share a moment alone. She shudders at the thought of the monsters and he tells her not to think about them any longer. He adds that they were lucky this happened on an island. If it had occurred anywhere else, he doesn’t think that the Silicates could have been destroyed.

But what about Rome and New York? I guess mainland Europe and North America are screwed.GONG. Yes, we actually get a gong sound effect to signify that we are now in Japan. Oh, did you forget about those other labs in Rome, New York and Tokyo? The ones that were just a few steps behind in following Dr. Phillips’ research? We see a scientist approach a door with a sign next to it that has both English and Japanese lettering. The English says “Director of Research” and I am assuming that the Japanese says the same. This guy knocks on the door but there is no answer. He opens the door and enters and we hear the familiar eerie sound of the Silicates. He moves just out of sight and then lets out a truly horrifying scream, as if his balls were just pushed through a hand-cranked meat grinder. That awful slurping sound then fills the air. There is the sound of glass breaking, the screen flashes several colors and then the end credits roll against a field of blue.

The End.

 

 

 

Review
It’s easy to see why many people might think Island of Terror was a production of Hammer Studios. First off, you have the late, great Peter Cushing, who was a Hammer staple. There’s quite of bit of atmosphere instilled into the film with its creepy locales, including fog shrouded woods, spooky mansions and remote villages; and of course it was directed by Terence Fisher, who helmed some of Hammer’s most notable horror films. However it was Planet Film Productions behind the film, having already produced The Six Men (1951), The Marked One (1963), Devils of Darkness (1964) and would later release Night of the Big Heat (1967) AKA Island of the Burning Doomed AKA Island of the Burning Damned.

Story
Monsters created in a lab get loose and go on a rampage. It sounds like a simple concept, but it is how a film develops that idea that really determines if the story is entertaining and effective. With Island of Terror, I personally believe it succeeded wildly. It is already an unnerving situation when characters are dealing with inexplicable deaths, but when you confine the action and mystery to an island, the idea of not being able to escape really helps increase the level of fear. Creepy and atmospheric locations greatly aid in creating a feeling of not just mystery, but dread. Who or what is killing people is such a ghastly and strange fashion? Where are they now and who might be next? The mystery unfolds quite well, with plenty of moments of terror. Even after the threat has been revealed, the tension builds as effort after effort fails to stop the monsters. With nowhere left to go, the characters have to play one last desperate hand or face a grisly demise.

This is the kind of movie that keeps you riveted to your seat (if you’re into such fare) for the entire running time. Each scene is just long enough to tell its portion of the story or add a character moment and then the film is off again to the next scene. While in other films this might make for a breakneck pace that doesn’t really allow the viewer to stop and take stock of what is transpiring, with Island of Terror, it only aids in making the story unfold that much more smoothly. Never does one suffer through a boring scene, waiting for the good stuff. It’s all good stuff, geared toward entertaining first and foremost. I would venture to say that a lot of this is the result of Terrence Fisher’s deft hand, having honed his skill on numerous horror films before this. Also helping is the tight script by Edward Mann and Al Ramsen, based on Gerry Fernback's screenplay The Night the Silicates Came.


Characters
It might just be me, be it seems that actors in English horror films of the 50’s and 60’s were a cut above their American counterparts of the same era. Even the smallest roles were played with relish and gusto, making for fully realized characters rather than cardboard cutouts that are easily interchangeable. Then again, maybe it’s just the accent that to my American ears, lends an air of sophistication and legitimacy to the proceedings.

As David West, Edward Judd plays the role with energized authority. As the expert recruited to solve the initial mystery, he takes the lead in the investigation and later, in combating the threat that arises. This fits with the character being something of a playboy, a younger expert who is more outspoken and brash than his older contemporaries. This doesn’t necessarily make him arrogant in his approach, just forceful in putting forth his ideas. While this might come across as annoying to some, it doesn’t hurt in an emergency.

Peter Cushing as Brian Stanley is altogether different. There is more of a quiet, reserved authority, which fits since the character is an instructor at the university level. He instills a subtle bit of humor into the character which manifests from time to time, making for someone most people would feel comfortable working alongside, a far cry from his role as Baron Frankenstein. Even after losing his hand, he is able to make small quips to lighten the mood.

As for everyone else, they play their parts with enthusiasm, making each character seem like a real person. These may be smaller parts, but each character comes across as someone who existed before the events of the film and (in some cases) will continue to exist long afterwards. Even Carole Gray as Toni Merrill can be credited with playing the stereotypical frightened woman well enough without completely going over the top. Her more quiet moments ae much better, especially when trading flirtatious innuendo with David near the film’s beginning.

Music and FX
The music isn’t anything really to write home about and seems comparable to music featured in other British horror projects of the day, whether they were from Hammer, Tigon, Amicus or someone else. It accomplishes its job, helping create dread in some scenes, fear in others and excitement in still others. As for the FX, that is a mixed bag. The brief glimpses we get of boneless corpses work well enough, as does the split second of a hand being severed. The real problem is the Silicates themselves. The design itself isn’t too bad, but in some cases the wires required to manipulate their long tentacle appendages are quite visible. In addition, when the creatures drop on someone from higher up, it looks like nothing more than a big plastic garbage bag being dumped on someone.

The real element that works with the Silicates is the sounds they emit. The noise that they generate on a constant basis is quite eerie, as it doesn’t quite sound like anything organic or mechanical. Hearing that on a dark, foggy night would be chilling. Even worse is the slurping, gurgling sounds made when they suck a person’s liquefied bones out of their body. It's reminiscent of the sound heard when you suck out the last bits of a thick milkshake, but given that we’re talking about dissolved bone matter here, it comes across as far more disgusting. Having the Silicates attack from off screen at first naturally makes one wonder what they look like. One’s imagination can conjure up all manner of frightful things. These two sound effects really help sell the creepiness factor, even if the final look of the creatures isn’t exactly horrifying.


Summation
While many people may choose to focus on the silly-looking monsters and dismiss the movie as worthless cheeze, I suggest viewing with an open eye. Aside from the look of the Silicates, there is still plenty to work with here. A great setting with loads of atmosphere to set the stage. An engaging mystery for the characters to solve. Characters that are wonderfully brought to life, making the viewer cheer them on and mourn the ones who die. Plus, a plot that swiftly moves things along, never stopping long enough to be boring, but not losing sight of a few genuine character moments as well. Overall, quite an excellent monster flick. One I’d recommend for lovers of such cinema.

 

Expect To See:
Castles – It’s not really a castle, but the Phillips place is a large stone mansion, complete with a dungeon-like laboratory underground. Quite a nice place, actually, if you overlook all the dead bodies.
Forest Hijinks – There is plenty of running around in the woods, combating the Silicates and trying to find a way to kill them. None work of course.
Gore – There is very little of this, in fact the only true moment comes when a hand is chopped off with an axe and we see some blood spurt from the stump. I’ve seen more blood spilled in the super market fighting over toilet paper.
Monsters – The Silicates fit the bill here. Squat and low to the ground, they have hard shells like a tortoise, but rather than use legs they slide across the ground like fresh dog poop. A single tentacle-like appendage protrudes from the front and is used for feeding. Ick.
Romance – At the beginning, David and Toni were eyeing each other like pieces of meat, counting the seconds until they could shag. By film’s end they have seemed to form a more durable and lasting bond. I wonder if it lasted.
Science – The Silicates are created from research into cancer killing cells and all of our main protagonists are doctors, so they fight back with science! It’s like watching Neil Degrasse Tyson, Bill Nye and Anthony Fauci team up to fight monsters.
Skin – There is very little of this sadly and the only moment comes near the beginning when Toni is dressed solely in one of David’s shirts, allowing her to show off quite a bit of leg.
Violence – If you call having your bones liquefied and then sucked out of your body through microscopic punctures, then yeah, there is a lot of violence in this movie. One person even gets a hand removed with an axe.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Characters whose last name ends with letter S: 4
Cigarettes smoked: 3
Pipes smoked: 2
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 11
Cups of coffee consumed: 2
Deaths: 11 (many more implied)
Squishy human bodies seen: 7
Squishy animal bodies seen: 2
Gunshots: 5
Explosions: 15
Times broken glass sound effect is heard: 7
Times slurping sounds from Silicates are heard: 8
Times Toni acts hysterical: 3
Times Brian makes a joke: 9
Sedatives administered to characters: 3
Maximum number of Silicates on island: 256
Most Silicates spotted at once: 20

03 Min – Ask Dr. Stupid!
06 Min – That sounded messy.
15 Min – Hello, legs!
19 Min – Get to da choppa!
23 Min – Ask Dr. Stupid!
25 Min – That’s called breaking and entering, pal.
26 Min – Please mind the dead guy sprawled out on the floor.
34 Min – Scratch one constable.
40 Min – Toni looks directly into the camera.
42 Min – Scratch one doctor.
44 Min – Car refuses to start. How typical.
50 Min – He didn’t question their story one bit.
58 Min – Geronimo!
65 Min – Condom costumes?
69 Min – Hands off, buddy.
80 Min - Catch!
86 Min – The End! Or is it?


Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time someone says the words "Island" or "Silicate," take a drink.

 

Images Click for larger image

“Oh, crap. I forgot which one of
these was my scotch.”


The Doctor liked to boast about
the size of his rod.


There are easier ways to
get high off toenail polish.

 
Guest starring Robert Morley
as the corpse.


“Uh…this looks bad. I think we
need to go get Fauci.”

This is what overdosing on
weight-loss pill looks like.


 
At least it doesn’t say
“Don’t Dead Open Inside.”

 
The lab boys really knew how
to throw a party.


“Don’t lean on that. You might
start a meltdown.”

One, two, three, four,
I declare a filing war.

“How’s the weight loss
coming long, old boy?”

“Is now really the time to start
building your Warhammer lists?”


The little-known fifth
ninja turtle: Picasso.

Foot placement is very important
when chopping wood, as Reg
learned the hard way.


Try the new Silicate sleep pillow
for a comfortable night’s rest.

The horrifying truth of how chicken
noodle soup is created.

“Here, drink this and shut up.”

“Be vewy, vewy quiet.
We’re hunting Siwicates.”

“Don’t worry, my new ACME monster
detector won’t let me down.
It will sniff out anything hiding in
the area in a jiffy.”


Oh, look. It’s a young Austin Powers.

New this Halloween! The Condom
Man costume, complete with
reservoir tip.

“Let’s see, Cobalt-60, Rhodium-101,
Phosphorus-32…where does he
keep the damn Strontium-90?!”

Santa just arrived! The day is saved!

“Don’t worry, Grandma. It’s not
the monsters I have to outrun.”

 

Immortal Dialog
Keep In Mind

Constable Harris describes to Dr. Landers what he saw.

Harris: “…his body is all like jelly.”
Landers: “Jelly?!”
Harris: “Aye. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. There was no face, just a horrible mush with the eyes sitting in it.”

Shadow’s Comment: Is that any way to talk about Patton Oswalt?


  • Living 10 years in one location still makes you a newcomer.
  • Nothing good has ever come from investigating a strange sound.
  • Car engines will always fail to start at the most inopportune time.
  • Silicates have ninja-like skills at hiding and evading others.
  • Silicates tend to move their victims' bodies around after killing them.
  • Owning a market makes you a community leader in some places.
  • Dynamite is not much more powerful than a few firecrackers tied together.
  • There is actually a good use for radioactive cows.
  • Honshu is not considered to be an island.

After an impromptu hand amputation, Brian is looked after by David and Toni.

David: “I’ll give you another shot of morphine.”
Brian: “First you do a rather sloppy bit of surgery, and now you want to turn me into a drug addict.”
David: “Well, it’s your choice.”
Brian: “I don’t need it.”
David: “All right, but we will give you another transfusion.”
Brian: “One more transfusion and I’ll be a full-blooded Irishman.”

Shadow’s Comment: Before you know it, he’ll be spending all hours at the pub and drinking non-stop.

 

WTF

1. In the Phillips lab area, there is a room marked TEST ANIMALS. When the group returns to the lab and find the body of Constable Harris, there is a brief glimpse of movement in the bottom cage, most likely from a rabbit. Uh…why hasn’t the Silicate that is in that room (and which earlier killed the unfortunate Constable) dined on it? All those tasty morsels in cages, just waiting to be snacked upon. However, not only is that one animal alive, but none of the cages look like they have been torn open or damaged in any way. Were the silicates just being picky? And speaking of this scene, look how the Constable’s body changes position on the floor in the space of just a few seconds. Dead people shouldn’t be doing that! --->

2. How in the hell did the Silicates escape from the Phillips place? Presumably, the very first one was created in the lab and then went berserk, killing everyone there. However, the protagonists later find another body in the upstairs dining room. How did the Silicate get up there? The door to the downstairs lab area was closed. Going further, how did the Silicate – assuming there was only the initial one at this point – leave the house? There were no open windows or doors for it to leave through. The heroes got inside only because Brian found a closed but unlocked window that he was able to open. There was no sign of broken glass anywhere to denote a busted window. So how then did the Silicates leave the house?

3. The Constable’s place seems to be located in a strange part of the village. When both Ian Bellows’ wife and then later Archie Morton call upon him, we see that outside his door, a few feet away, is a brick wall that is painted white. See the first picture. Then later when Landers drops by to see him and he’s not there, we see that from the outside, there is no wall at all, and nowhere nearby where it could be. See the second picture. Of course one locale was a real and one was a set, but at least they tried to make the front doors in both place match one another. --->

4. Am I the only one to wonder what it would be like to be killed by a Silicate? I imagine there is sharp pain where the monster grabs onto you and inject its enzymes. As your bones are liquefied, do you think there is any sort of burning or stinging sensation? What does it feel like as your bones are sucked away? Do you feel your internal organs start to weigh down each other without support? I imagine that if you were just a bag of flesh, you would not necessarily die instantly. Your heart would probably beat for a short time until the weight of other tissue forced it to stop. That or you’d suffocate since your lungs wouldn’t have the strength to push against your body weight and pull in any air. Or perhaps you would die from your brain sloshing around and coming apart since your skull was no longer there to keep it one place. I know, I know…I’ m quite morbid.

 

Movie Trailer
This Film & Me

Oh, how I remember this movie. In late 1978 mom, dad and I (all four of my sisters had left home by this point) moved from Daly City, just south of San Francisco, to a small town called Hercules, in the northeast part of the Bay Area. Once there, I was thrilled to learn that I was going to have an outlet in my room for cable TV. Back then cable was still in its infancy and I think we got less than 30 channels overall. Still, it was great having my own TV at age 10. These days, ten year olds have their own TVs, laptops, tablets, smart phones and whatever else modern technology deems a must have item. Back then it was a big deal to have your own TV. So it was with great relish that I was able to watch things alone in my room and not have to surrender the TV downstairs to my dad, who invariably wanted to watch sports, something I had little interest in.

So one Saturday night somewhere around 1980 or 1981, I was staying up late to watch Creature Features, the local horror movie show. The movie that night was Island of Terror and I settled into watch, kicked back on my bed. I was instantly enthralled when Ian Bellows meets his fate early in the film, and wild horses couldn’t have dragged me away from the TV at that point. Twice during the movie my mom came into my room to tell me to turn the sound down as it was getting late. I was so glued to the TV and soaked up so much of the film that for years afterwards, I could remember many, many details about the movie. Needless to say, I really, really, loved it.

The years went by and I entered a phase where I was collecting older horror flicks on VHS, even sending away for mail order tapes. While my favorite genre was 50’s monster movies, there were numerous films from the 60’s that I desperately wanted, Island of Terror being at the top of that list. Alas, I was never able to locate a copy. Then one night somewhere in the late 80’s or early 90’s, Island of Terror aired again on television and I was able to record it with a blank VHS tape, pausing at the commercial breaks. This became my go to copy for the next 25 years or so. The funny thing was, whatever station that broadcast the film made no allowances for its wide screen format, so when the title card came on my standard screen, it proclaimed the name of the film to be Land of Error, which is what I jokingly call it to this day. Sadly, the film was never available on region one DVD that I know of and my old VHS copy finally gave up the ghost and cracked wide open, so I was forced to make do with a *cough* bit torrent file *cough* until I was able to purchase the Blu-ray from Scream Factory (and it was one of the very first films I bought after upgrading from DVD to Blus). It remains one of my all-time favorite horror films to this day and I sometimes find it hard to believe that it is over 50 years old.

 

Rating
Shadow Says


Shadow's rating: Eight Tombstones



The Good

  • Great atmosphere
  • Excellent pacing
  • Inventive monsters
  • Peter Cushing!

The Bad

  • Monsters look a little silly on occasion
  • Monsters seem a little slow moving to be a credible threat

The Ugly

  • Wires controlling monsters spotted a time or two

 

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