Island of Terror (1966) REVIEW

Island of Terror (1966) REVIEW
Staff Writer

Island of Terror (1966)TITLE: Island of Terror


DIRECTOR: Terence Fisher

CAST: Peter Cushing, Edward Judd and Carole Gray



This is a great slice of 1966 sci-fi horror that was shot in rural England and is a particular childhood favourite of mine.  I remember first catching it on a late night showing while on holiday.  It’s a bit like watching a graphic, feature length episode of 60s/70s Doctor Who – it has a distinctly British feel, there’s some mad science and some nasty but cut price monsters that remain hidden at the start of the story.  Peter Cushing’s presence re-enforces this but it’s also atmospheric and hugely enjoyable.

Set on the remote, phoneless (!) Petrie’s Island, just off the coast of  Ireland, a cancer research centre unleashes radioactive lumps of tissue  called the silicates – I told you it’s like Doctor Who – that inject a bone-dissolving enzyme into their victims and leave them looking like human trifles.  The silicates are like small, crawling, organic versions of the saucers from WAR OF THE WORLDS complete with snaking antennae.

When the film opens we see farmer, Ian Bellows, fall victim to the silicates but as we only hear the bone crunching attack can only imagine his fate. Constable John Harris discovers his filleted body and town physician, Dr Reginald Landers (Eddie Byrne) calls in pathologist Dr Brian Stanley (Cushing).  He, in turn, brings in bone expert Dr David West (Edward Judd) who wangles a flight out to the island in a helicopter belonging to the father of glamorous jetsetter, Toni Merrell (Carole Gray) whom West is dining with.  Toni insists on coming along for the ride.

Arriving at the research lab they find that Doctor Lawrence Phillips and his colleagues have also been reduced to quivering heaps of jelly but secure the Doctor’s notes and deduce that the silicates were the result of an experiment with the silicone atom.

Shaky science out of the way it’s time for them to take the battle to the silicates and things go from bad to worse with the monsters attacking more humans as well as learning to climb trees!  Nothing it appears can stop them – bullets, fire or even a good old-fashioned axe.  The rare isotope Strontium-90 is the answer and there’s a store of it back at the lab. Cushing is attacked by a silicate and loses his hand as they try to obtain it.

Cattle are then contaminated with Strontium-90 and our heroes lie in wait for the silicates to take the bait.  Order is restored and everyone is relieved that the reign of terror was isolated.  But we then cut to Japan where similar experiments are already underway.

The screenplay by Gerry Fernback was originally entitled ‘THE NIGHT THE SILICATES CAME and after producer Richard Gordon took on the project and got Terence Fisher to direct ISLAND OF TERROR was released by Universal on a double bill with THE PROJECTED MAN.

Make no bones about it – sorry about that – it’s certainly worth tracking the silicates down on DVD.

STEWART KING is an editor and horror journalist who has written for The Spectator and HuffingtonPost as well as Screem Magazine.  He is also the  author of a brand new collection – GHOST STORIES FOR CHRISTMAS – FESTIVE SKIN CRAWLERS WITH A TWIST available here. Check out his other horror novellas including BLOODBATH ON THE TITANIC, X FACTOR ZOMBIE MASSACRE and STRICTLY CHAINSAW PSYCHOS here.  You can stalk him Twitter.

Click to add a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Films

Seize the Night

Seize the Night has landed! Watch it now for FREE

Staff Writer3rd May 2016

Dacre Stoker’s Top 10 Dracula-inspired Films

Dacre Stoker24th April 2016

Hammer’s Judy Matheson counts down her horror film favourites

David Saunderson17th April 2016

Deleted Scene from Victor Frankenstein (2015)

Staff Writer11th April 2016

Fox Trap, a throwback to slasher horror fun

Kayleigh Marie Edwards28th March 2016

The many faces of Sherlock’s ‘the woman’ Irene Adler

Nia Jones22nd March 2016

Devil’s Playground (2010) REVIEW

Simon Ball10th March 2016

Batman versus Jack the Ripper

Andrew Garvey9th March 2016

Is ‘Night Kaleidoscope’ the scariest horror of the year?

Kayleigh Marie Edwards6th March 2016

The Dinosaur Project (2012) REVIEW

Simon Ball6th March 2016

Victor Frankenstein (2015) REVIEW

Ann O'Regan23rd February 2016

Screamvention – Horror comes howling to Dublin!

Ann O'Regan22nd February 2016