• Island Of Terror



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: June 20th, 2017.
    Director: Terence Fisher
    Cast: Peter Cushing, Edward Judd, Sam Kydd, Eddie Byrne, Carole Gray
    Year: 1966
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    The Movie:

    The first collaboration between Terence Fisher and Peter Cushing to not bear the Hammer Films brand, 1966’s Island Of Terror is a decent blend of horror and sci-fi elements, though it moves at a fairly deliberate pace. When the story begins, Dr. Phillips (Peter Forbes-Robertson) is engaged in trying to find a cure for cancer. He receives a shipment of chemicals related to his experiment, delivered to the lab that he operates on a small island of the coast of Ireland.

    Needless to say, Phillips’ experiment doesn’t go as planned and local policeman Constable Harris (Sam Kydd) winds up finding a strange corpse tucked away in a cave, looking quite deflated having had all of its bones somehow removed. Local doctor Landers (Eddie Byrne) tries to help Harris make sense out of this, eventually calling on some help from London based pathologist Dr. Brian Stanley (Peter Cushing) who arrives on the island with Dr. David West (Edward Judd) to assist where they can. They arrive via a helicopter owned by the wealthy father of West’s girlfriend Toni (Carole Gray) and maybe not so surprisingly, she’s along for the ride.

    After examining the body, Stanley and West aren’t able to really make any headway into what caused this, but when more bodies are found in the same strange state at Phillips’ lab, it’s clear that whatever caused this to happen is still out there. The late Phillips’ notes indicate that his hope to cure cancer lied in a new being he was trying to create that would, theoretically at least, fight back against the cancer cells – but clearly this did not go as planned and now the bastard children of the late doctor’s efforts are not only roaming the island feasting on its inhabitants but also multiplying at an alarming rate!

    This one takes some time to hit a proper stride but there’s enough payoff in the last third of the picture to make it well worth a watch. To be fair, even in the slower first half of the picture the movie is eminently watchable thanks to a solid cast and some fine direction from Fisher. Cushing is great here, giving the performance just enough energy to make it work but stopping short of overdoing it. Cushing was always great when playing a man of science and his turn in this film is no exception to that. The supporting players are solid too – Eddie Byrne and Edward Judd make for decent good guy characters and pretty Carole Gray is just fine as the movie’s only real female character. Throw in efforts from Niall MacGinnis and James Caffrey as two local men who get involved in trying to help get rid of the creatures and it’s clear that that the cast assembled for the picture is a good one.

    The sets and locations used for the picture are pretty convincing and even, at times, picturesque while the cinematography employed captures it all quite nicely. The effects aren’t ever particularly convincing and look like something from an episode of an old Doctor Who storyline but the goofy looking monsters (or silicates if you prefer) that populate the last half of the film are, at the very least, fun to watch.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Shout! Factory presents Island Of Terror on Blu-ray in a 1.78.1 widescreen transfer in AVC encoded 1080p high definition taken from a new scan of the film’s 35mm inter-positive and it looks excellent. Detail is very strong throughout and there’s good depth and texture to the image. Some really minor print damage is noticeable here and there but it’s never more than some small white specks, there are no noticeable scratches or serious instances of dirt or debris. At the same time, the picture retains an appreciable film-like quality, showing a natural amount of film grain and seemingly devoid of any noise reduction or edge enhancement. Colors are nicely reproduced, black levels are solid and skin tones look nice and natural. Nothing to complain about here, the picture quality is very strong indeed.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track with removable subtitles provided in English only. No issues here, the dialogue is perfectly easy to understand, there are no audible problems with hiss or distortion, the levels are nicely balanced and both the score and the effects featured in the picture sound fine.

    The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary track with film historian Dr. Robert J. Kiss and writer Rick Pruitt. Kiss flies solo for the first half of the track, giving us a veritable history lesson on its origins, how and why the different cast and crew members came to be involved with the production, the locations that were used, the effects work and more. Pruitt joins in at the half way mark, telling an interesting story about seeing the movie first run during its American theatrical engagement, before handing things back to Kiss again. It’s a solid track, well-researched with a lot of good information delivered in a casual and very listenable tone.

    Aside from that, Shout! Factory has also supplied a theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection options. There’s also some nice reversible cover art included with this disc.

    The Final Word:

    Island Of Terror is a bit of a slow burn, so don’t expect the film to move at a thousand miles an hour, but it is nicely acted, well directed and fairly atmospheric. Cushing is great in his role and the other players in front of the camera do fine work as well. Shout!’s Blu-ray release isn’t stacked with extras but the commentary is solid and the presentation is top notch.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!