Straddling the boundaries of science fiction and horror, Night of the Big Heat is one of those offerings that reels you in, only to ultimately fall a bit flat.

Directed by veteran helmer Terence Fisher and starring genre titans Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing (although Cushing’s role is more of an extended cameo), this is pretty much a Hammer flick in all but name, and the usual format is in place.

Solid acting, a decent premise and some low-budget special effects are all here, adding to an air of familiarity and comfort that makes the film an easy watch.

The action takes place on the British island of Farra, who, while the mainland is shivering through a severe cold snap, is experiencing an incredible, and unexplained, heatwave.

The tale centres in the main around pub landlord and crime novelist Jeff Callum (Patrick Allen), one of the focal points of the island and a well-liked character all round.

His life (along with his relationship with his wife) is thrown somewhat though by the arrival of his new secretary (played by Jane Merrow), who just happens to be a former mistress of his.

This love squabble is the backdrop to a series of bizarre accidents and deaths, with locals talking of strange lights and whirring sounds.

Into this confusion wades the mysterious Hanson (Lee), an extremely private character who spends most of his time prowling the fields setting up cameras, or back in his hotel room fiddling with scientific equipment.

Turns out the island maybe the point of origin for an invasion by an alien race, with Lee appearing in numerous scenes to babble some scientific gobbledygook that I am sure was quite impressive back when this was released.

In as pre-cursor to recent big-screen flop The Darkest Hour, these aliens need light to fuel them, and subsequently are attracted to energy sources – a power station in one enjoyable scene.

This all builds to a climax as Callum, Hanson and a handful of other islanders battle to save the day.

And it is the conclusion where things go horribly wrong here, as while Fisher employs a slow-burn approach for the first hour or so, keeping things ticking over nicely, the ending feels horribly rushed and is over in a matter of seconds.

Even worse, having wisely kept them off screen for the bulk of the running time, the appearance of the aliens is likely to elicit more laughs than anything else, looking like something that was rejected by a particularly bad 70s Doctor Who episode.

There is still plenty to enjoy here, and watching Christopher Lee striding round an island bellowing at people that they are ‘damn fools’ is always entertaining.

But Night of the Big Heat turns out to be a film that I merely found a decent watch, rather than one I would dash out to recommend.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.

  • phil taylor

    a bit weak but not a bad film the so called creatures looked like glowing cow pats still all in all a watchable film.