Island Of Terror (UK 1966)

Rating: **
Review Date: 9/26/20
Director: Terence Fisher
Cast: Peter Cushing, Edward Judd, Carole Gray

"Science has its risks, but the risks aren't enough to hinder progress."

The reclusive Dr. Phillips is doing cancer research on a remote island off the coast of Ireland when one of his experiments breaks loose and starts killing people. The victims are turned into jelly with no bones left in their body. The local doctor is obviously in over his head, so he visits his friend Dr. Stanley (Peter Cushing) on the mainland. His logic for doing so is laughably unsound: "I've been in close contact with an unknown disease that might be contagious. I'd better fly to the densely populated mainland for help..." Stanley finds the story to be unbelievable, so he calls on his friend Dr. West (Edward Judd) for help. West also finds the story preposterous, but he agrees to check it out as an excuse to ditch his clingy girlfriend, Toni (Carole Gray). However, Toni's daddy is the only one who can get them all back to the island that evening, and she insists on tagging along. As the creatures multiply and take over the island, the doctors race against time to figure out how to destroy them before they get eaten themselves.

It's a good looking and moderately enjoyable outing that looks and feels like a Hammer or Amicus production, but is neither. Peter Cushing is delightful as a crusty and pompous doctor, while Edward Judd just comes across as an arrogant ass. Sadly, Carole Gray is relegated to a thankless and demeaning role as the scandalously sexy, but helpless and hysterical female who must be sedated with drugs whenever something scary happens. I found her role and the way she was treated particularly distasteful, even considering when the film was made. Fortunately, the romantic angle is fairly subdued, but it raised an interesting question right at the end. Rather than see Toni be eaten by monsters, Dr. West decides to murder her instead. Is that an act of heroism and/or love? It's hard to decide. The creatures are rather silly and look like a turtle with a suction cup tentacle that wiggles around on wires. While they're slow as snails, they're also surprisingly adept at climbing trees and buildings. Even though some of the visual effects are interesting and surprisingly gruesome (Peter Cushing even loses a hand at one point), it's hard to take the creatures seriously and the film is dragged down by its chauvinism and outdated attitudes.