Friday, 21 March 2008

Island of Terror (1966)

Island of Terror (made by Planet Productions in 1966) is one of those horror films that motors along quite well, with a premise that is silly certainly, but ingenious, creepy and quite scary, until about its halfway point. At that point the monster must be revealed, and as so often happens the monster just doesn’t cut it, and the movie never quite recovers. But it is a Terence Fisher movie, and Terence Fisher is never less than competent and you know he’ll keep the action moving along at a great pace. In some ways, though, Terence Fisher is the problem – he was probably just too good a director for this movie. I’ve always thought that the more seriously Fisher took himself the better he was. In movies like Dracula, Prince of Darkness and The Devil Rides Out that seriousness gives us genuinely chilling movies that make us feel that This Is Not a Game – there are more serious things even than life and death at stake here, and there are serious moral issues to confront as well. Island of Terror just doesn’t lend itself to such serious treatment. This tale of medical experiments gone wrong on a remote island off the cost of Ireland is at times strongly reminiscent of The Day of the Triffids. Peter Cushing gives a solid but slightly subdued performance as a doctor battling the effects of the experiments, while the rest of the cast is quite adequate. It’s not by any means a terrible film, and Fisher does provide us with some real chills. If you like 1960s British sci-fi/horror this one’s fairly entertaining. Just don’t expect something in the same league as Terence Fisher’s Hammer movies.

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