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  Island of Terror Wouldn't It Be Rubbery?
Year: 1966
Director: Terence Fisher
Stars: Peter Cushing, Edward Judd, Carol Gray, Eddie Byrne, Niall MacGinnis, Sam Kydd, James Caffrey, Liam Gaffney, Roger Heathcote, Keith Bell
Genre: Horror, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Dr Phillips is a research scientist investigating a cure for cancer at his isolated laboratory on a small island off the coast of Ireland. He is keeping his work top secret, but has sent out details of his experiments to selected establishments across the world even before he has tested his findings. And when he does so, disaster strikes, with an explosion. The people of the island are oblivious to the tragedy that has occured until that night, when one of them goes missing. The man's wife goes to see the local constable (Sam Kydd) who sets out to search for him, and does not like what he finds - it looks like a body, but is curiously limp and distorted. He fetches Doctor Landers (Eddie Byrne), who decides it's time to send for professional help, because there's something very strange happening...

This breezy science fiction shocker was scripted by Edward Mann and Al Ramsen, and was one of the neat British horrors of the era made by independent film companies. It takes a concept that had been around for a while even by this point, with science going too far and ordinary people having to face the consequences, and fashions a fast moving entertainment under the more than capable direction of Hammer's Terence Fisher. Naturally, the thing to do when science goes too far is call the experts in, and they are present in the form of Dr Stanley, played by seasoned pro Peter Cushing, and Dr West, played by the reliable man's man Edward Judd. We get the measure of their characters when we first see them: Stanley tutoring his students, and West in the company of a lady, Toni (Carole Gray), who is only wearing one of his shirts.

Don't worry, although West has his tie loosened and the top button of his shirt unfastened, the reason Toni isn't still in her dress is that West has spilled wine on it, so there's nothing too racy going on. And there won't be, either, as Stanley and Landers arrive to whisk West away to the island; luckily, Toni has a rich father who will give them the use of his helicopter so they can reach there as soon as possible, The main reason for this seems to be so Judd can enjoy some love interest as he does his scientific sleuthing, as Toni doesn't appear to be any good at anything else - she's there to be protected. From what? Well, initially the doctors think there's a new disease spreading through the island as they examine the oddly damaged body - the man has had his bones sucked out, hence his floppy condition.

However, when they're outside carrying out more investigating, Toni, who's been left to sit in the car, encounters a mysterious thing slithering over the roof. It vanishes as quickly as it appeared, but now the doctors aren't too sure about the disease diagnosis. The go over to the lab and have to break in and find that staff are all lying around in a bone-free state and get cornered by the culprits: two grey-green blobs created by the explosion, with impossible to penetrate outer shells and long trunks for snaring their victims, and what's more they're dividing like cells. Soon they will be taking over the island whipping out bones with a sound which resembles someone draining the last of their milkshake through a straw.

One of the reasons Island of Terror is surprisingly suspenseful is that the odds are stacked against our heroes when faced with the Silicates, as they are eventually named. They look unbeatable, and if dynamite won't stop them what will? They can also, in their cunning, climb trees (exactly how we are never shown) to drop on their victims. Perhaps the "we know best" attitude of Stanley and West is a little patronising, especially to Toni, but they are the best men for the job, with Cushing providing welcome wit and Judd the square jawed ingenuity. They're prepared to make sacrifices too, as seen in one memorable blob attack involving an axe. The climax, which features the islanders under seige and locked in the village hall, brings the film to an appropriately exciting end, and the whole production is as brisk and efficient as its protagonists. Music by Malcolm Lockyer.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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