Movies From the Black Lagoon: Island of Terror
Movies From the Black Lagoon
Island of Terror - 1966, Unrated
By Tom Doty
Weekly Contributing Writer
An army of slithering creatures feasts on the residents of a remote Irish island in this Science Fiction/ Horror flick from the swinging sixties.
The story begins when an unfortunate islander investigates strange sounds emanating from a cave. Turns out one should never enter a dark hole, with no discernible exit, to investigate auditory mysteries. This rule holds true as the man is killed off screen and screams horribly. His body is later found but now resembles a deflated basketball. Turns out this is what you look like when your bones aren't present to hold up your skin anymore.
The island's doctor goes to the mainland and rounds up some top notch help. Drs Stanley and West answer the call though West brings along his latest conquest as her 'Daddy" owns a private helicopter. They arrive on the island and precede to autopsy the skin sack. They can't discover how the body got that way so they proceed to a private facility on the island where cancer cure experiments might yield an answer. This turns out to be a spot on observation as the lab contains more bodies in the same condition.
Later they discover that the lab is also home to crawling creatures that resemble man hole covers except for a fleshy arm that bursts forth from the beast. This organ appears to be sensory in nature as well as the monster's mouth. It can latch onto a limb and then liquefy the skeleton underneath and suck out the remains like an alien silly straw. These beats will not cure cancer but they proceed to become the number one cause of death for islanders.
West and Stanley organize the islanders into an exploratory force to probe the creatures for weaknesses. They discover that the things are slow, impervious to explosives, and can drop from a tree and kill a man in seconds. This is all bad news. Eventually they find a dead one and realize that radiation can kill them. The doctors put their heads together and realize that they can kill the critters if they can get them to eat something that will poison them-radioactive cows.
That's right folks; this film ends with an astonishing sequence that calls for dramatic music as a doctor injects cows with radiation. The best sequence finds the whole population of the island hiding in a town hall and waiting for the radiated rascals to drop dead. The monsters begin breaking into the building and start grabbing hold of villagers like so much licorice while the locals curse the slow digestive systems of the snail like ogres.
This is great stuff and it manages to be pretty scary despite the goofy subject matter. All credit has to go to the stiff upper lip execution by the British talent involved. Terence Fisher directs this all as action with such efficiency that you often forget how ridiculous it is. He gets a lot of help from peter Cushing as Stanley. He is very convincing as the dapper doctor and his best moment is when he implores West to cut off his hand at the wrist after one of the mutants latches onto him. The gore in this scene is also good. The creatures are kind of goofy but they wind up being more threatening thanks to eerie sound effects and a slow, but determined, gait. Overall this is pretty darned good for a film that could have easily wound up on "Mystery Science Theater" had the special effects or dialog been less convincing.
Best Line: "I've just found one of my horses dead. At least I think it's my horse. It's all soft and flabby."
Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: email@example.com.