In many ways a filmic companion piece to the following year’s Night Of The Big Heat (also starring Peter Cushing), this 1966 flick takes another stab at being a sci-fi horror hybrid.

Like many before it, Island Of Terror is one of those films that wallows in the concept of ‘dodgy science’, a plot device so prevalent in 50/60s genre cinema.

This time round the action takes place in a small community off the east coast of Ireland, where scientist Dr Lawrence Phillips is tucked away in a secret laboratory, trying to come up with a cure for cancer.

That all seems well and good (and admirable of course), but before long things take a turn for the sinister when one of the locals turns up as complete mush, reduced to jelly by an off-screen ‘creature’.Island_of_Terror

Unsurprisingly island doctor Reginald Landers (Eddie Byrne) is baffled, so he elects to call in old friend Dr Brian Stanley (Cushing).

Trouble is though, Stanley is equally mystified as to how a human body can turn up minus any bones, so he ropes in fellow boffin Dr David West (Edward Judd), along with his plaything (played by Carole Gray).

Off the gang head to the island to meet with Dr Phillips, only to discover that his entire team have also been reduced to jelly in their lab, having had their bones disintegrated by tentacle creatures that somehow have spawned from their cancer research (this is never truly explained in case you are wondering).

Even worse, these creatures have the ability to split in two every six hours, leaving West to deduce that within days, millions will be swarming the island.

From then on it is a desperate battle against time to come up with a solution before these sillicates destroy everything in their path.

This really is one of those films where as a modern audience you just have to roll with it, as it is very easy to simply laugh at the dodgy creature effects and dismiss this film out of hand.

But this is 1966 remember, and director Terence Fisher has in fact come up with a cracking good yarn that keeps you gripped from start to finish.

Cushing and Judd take centre stage and form an excellent double act, with the ability to bounce plenty of scientific mumbo-jumbo off each other, as well as some welcome moments of true humour.

Cushing is also a bit of a bad-ass this time round, in one scene deciding to brazenly waltz into a lab despite huge ‘warning – radiation danger’ signs plastered everywhere.

Glamour comes in the shape of Gray (who also pops up in Curse Of The Fly) and there is solid support from the likes of Sam Kydd as Constable Harris.

And, if truth be told, while some of the effects scenes do provoke a chuckle (notably a couple of scenes with flying creatures killing islanders), the attack scenes do still wring some tension out of the set-up.

Island Of Terror did not get much of a reception on release – bunged on a double bill with the higher-profile Projected Man in the US for example, but that doesn’t mean you should pass up the opportunity to check it out.

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.