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Island of Terror, 1966

From the video case: On a tiny island off the coast of Ireland, a new breed of terror is unleashed. In his quest to find a cure for cancer, a research scientist conducts an experiment involving mutated cells. But, this attempt to benefit humanity becomes a nightmare that threatens the entire human race.

The tranquil island is suddenly rocked by the mysterious death of a local farmer. When he is found in a cave, not a trace of bone is left in his body; he has been reduced to a horrible, shapeless mass. Enter eminent pathologist Dr. Brian Stanley (Peter Cushing) and Dr. David West (Edward Judd), a brilliant bone specialist.

Working together in a desperate race against time, they must find a way to destroy the seemingly indestructible, ever-multiplying horde of bone-eating creatures before the mutant monsters kill everyone on the island and spread like a deadly plague across the entire planet. (1966, color)

Mark says: I credit Island of Terror for reigniting my interest in old sci-fi/horror movies. Several years ago I caught this movie on television. I remembered it from my youth and was enthralled to see it again through the eyes of an adult. As I was watching the movie, a friend dropped by and we finished watching it together. Afterwards, he suggested we rent a slew of old sci-fi/horror films and view them over the course of a few days. That’s exactly what we did, and I have been hooked ever since.

What really makes this film work is the dynamic between the two lead characters, Peter Cushing (The Curse of Frankenstein, The Abominable Snowman) and Edward Judd (The Day the Earth Caught Fire). Both men play their roles (Dr. Stanley and Dr. West, respectively) without a trace of campiness. Edward Judd actually has more of the lead role, and gets the girl (Carole Gray), but it’s Peter Cushing who gets the better lines.

Another interesting aspect of this film are the unusual monsters. They’re sort of a large turtle-shelled creature with a single tentacle that extends from the front. They reproduce by dividing in half and producing a gunk that looks like some sort of Chinese noodle soup (see image above). They’re not monsters you will easily forget.

If I were to find fault with this movie, it would be that it sometimes loses momentum. I think it could have stood a little more editing. There’s a particularly slow scene where we watch the doctors put on radiation suits. First the pants, then the shoes, then the top, and then the hood, and then they finally buckle themselves in. I’m not exactly sure why we had to see all that. Plus, the radiation suits are decidedly unimpressive. They don’t look very sturdy and rather resemble cheap condoms.

Other than a lack of good editing, this film is highly entertaining. Keep in mind the significance this film plays in my personal history when you see my rating.

Island of Terror is directed by Terence Fisher (Horror of Dracula, The Curse of the Werewolf).

Scene to watch for: Dr. Stanley gives Dr. West a hand. Literally.

Line to listen for: “If I hear another sound out of you I’m gonna smash your face in and throw you out for those things to get.”

FYI: This movie is also known as Night of the Silicates, The Creepers, The Night the Creatures Came, The Night the Silicates Came.

Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! ! out of 5.

IMDB Link

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12 Comments

  1. I too saw this in the early 70’s on the late night chiller theater (or the local equivilant), when I was about 12. I lived for these Saturday night movies, and this one stuck in my head, and has for all these years. I finally found a site that is selling it and I am ordering it soon. Can’t wait to see it again after over 35 years!

    Another one I remember from the same time period, which I have also found recently, is “Maneater of Hydra.” Both films gave me the creeps!

  2. Fred: I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Peter Cushing was such a great actor and the creatures are so unusual you can’t easily forget them. If you have the chance, write me back and let me know what you thought.

  3. Hey Mark, like you I think I saw this film as a youngster sometime in the 70’s and have also remembered it ever since. But I am not sure if this is the right film. Did these creatures fall from trees to suck the bones out of people? If so, it is my film! The creature looks the same, but I’m not sure about the tentacle and the splitting to show the Chinese soup gunk. I was under 10 years old, so I only remember the falling from trees and sucking the bones… I know this is an old posting, but if you could answer, I’d be grateful…
    Thanks,
    Jess

  4. Hi Jess!

    Yes! You have the correct film. At one point in the movie, a man is creeping up to throw a gasoline bomb at one of the creatures, and another creature drops out of a tree to get him. It’s kind of fun to discover an old movie you haven’t seen for years, isn’t it?

    Yours, Mark

  5. I have been yahooing for years, typing in “1950’s horror movie about creatures that sucked people’s bones.” I finally googled it instead, and here it is. I, too, remember this classic from my childhood and have never forgotten it. Who could? My husband and I are collecting horror movies from when we were kids, ones that we liked, and this is going in our collection. My sister wants to watch it, too, when we get it. She watched it with me, then, on Chiller Theater. Boy, those were the days!

  6. Linda: You are exactly the kind of reader I want reading! I started by buying movies I remembered, but then I became hooked on the genre and started collecting whatever I came across. I’ve made some truly wonderful finds that really take me back. Hope you drop by often! ~Mark

  7. Ah yes.. “Monster Chiller Horror Theatre”. Those were the days. This movie (Island of Terror) scared me silly when I was a kid. The sound the creatures made caused me to hide in the kitchen. But I always came back. My brother and I loved staying up late and watching the old films. Maybe the editor wasn’t up to snuff, but the sound editor sure was. Old sci-fi and monster movies… happy times.

    • Hey Rob: Yes, great sound editing! When I was a kid, the scene that absolutely horrified me was when Edward Judd was forced to lob off Peter Cushing’s hand to save his life. Good times, indeed.

  8. I’m so glad I came across this. I’ve been wondering for years if I really saw this movie, or if it was just a figment of my over active childhood imagination. I must have seen it some time in the early ’70s. I’ve never found somebody else who had seen it so I started believing the latter. I can remember drawing pictures of the creatures though in grade school. When you mentioned the part about lopping of his hand, that unlocked the memories for me. Is there a scene with a bunch of cattle and the creatures are feeding on them? I’m so excited to know the name of this movie and looking forward to purchasing it and re-living some of my childhood. I use to love watching Fritz The Night Owl. Thank you.

    • Hey Ken! Glad to have been of service. Yes, there is a scene where the creatures feed on cattle. It’s a climatic scene near the end. I, too, was excited to see this movie again as an adult! As I say in the review, I credit this movie for rekindling my love of old sci-fi / horror films. Believe me, you’ll love seeing this movie again! – Mark

  9. So glad other folks remember and are enjoying these movies. I, too, googled “1960s English horror movie with turtle-like creatures,” and that’s how I found your site. As a kid in the early 70s, I watched any and every horror movie on Saturday afternoon’s “Science Fiction Theater” as well as the late-night chillers on Friday. I loved “Island of Terror” and found it quite, well, terrifying. Reading everyone’s comments has inspired me to collect more of these classics.

    I will always be grateful for the pleasures of “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” “The Thing,” and even schlocky classics such as “The Brain that Wouldn’t DIe!,” another movie that scared the hell out of me as a kid, then had my husband and I rolling on the floor when we revisited it 35 years later.

    • It does my heart good to know that people are still thinking about this movie. Like I mentioned in the review, this was the movie that got me on my “horror kick” again, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching my collection grow. It’s amazing how many of these films were so terrifying as a kid and so ridiculous when viewed as an adult!


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