Island of Terror (1966) – By Brian Lindsey

It’s got monsters. It’s got Peter Cushing. Terence Fisher directed it. But it’s not a Hammer film! Actually, Island of Terror was financed by Planet Film Productions, a small company that briefly attempted to carve out a Hammer-style niche in the 1960s. A low budget affair, its compelling science fiction-edged storyline performed by a game, able cast under Fisher’s surehanded direction รณ should nonetheless please horror and sci-fi fanatics alike. Even the appearance of some rather less-than-convincing monsters (by today’s standards) won’t detract from the fun. Cushing and Edward Judd (First Men In The Moon) are medical specialists flown in to investigate a series of bizarre deaths on an isolated island off the Irish coast. They discover that a terrible accident has taken place there during a cancer research experiment at a private clinic. The accident has unleashed a fast-breeding horde of “silicates” creatures that suck the bones out of humans for nourishment. Each deadly monster divides into two separate creatures every few hours. If some way to kill them can’t be found, eventually they’ll overrun the entire world! Despite the almost comical nature of the monsters, director Fisher effectively mines suspense and even a few creepy chills from the proceedings, more often than not from his actors’ reactions to unearthly sound effects. (The rather lame use of that done-to-death “the car won’t start!” cliche can be forgiven here.) This especially comes to the fore in the thrilling climax, when our heroes and the islanders are barricaded in the village meeting hall, under siege by the encroaching, bone-hungry silicates. It’s a lot like a topflight Doctor Who episode if you can use your imagination and overlook the less-than-special effects, the story and performances will carry you along quite nicely.