Thursday, October 02, 2014

31 Days of Halloween - Day 2 - Movie 1

A small island community, cut off from the mainland, finds itself overrun by huge unicellular organisms which digest the bone matter in their victims. Doubling their population every six hours by cellular division, these slow moving silicates are seemingly impossible to destroy and lethal to the touch. Peter Cushing and Edward Judd race to find a means of eradicating the creatures before it's too late.

Island of Terror (1966) was one of my favorite movies as a kid, appearing on television at a fairly regular rate. I haven't seen it in decades and wasn't sure how it was going to hold up. Terence Fisher's direction is unusually matter of fact here without his usual flair and use of depth within the scene. Cushing, unfortunately, plays back-up to the less charismatic Judd, and winds up with little to do in the movie except react to things, and even less in the final act. It does contain some slow spots, but the movie doesn't waste a lot of time getting underway.

The silicates appear pretty unthreatening with their slowly sliding lumpy green bodies and it's single tentacle like stalk which latches on to their victims. They also move so slowly that even slow moving zombies could easily outrun them. Having said that, their design is a unique change of pace and when they are shown attacking their victims and we see the results, the threat seems pretty real. The silicates are also given a distinctive sound to indicate they are nearby. This sound effect does amplify the notion of the creatures being a threat.

It's far from a classic movie and would be pretty far down on a list of Cushing's greatest performances, but I still found it entertaining with a tone and feel to it not dissimilar to Fiend Without A Face (1958). My only real quibble is one that I even had as a child. There is a scene where a silicate drops out of a tree onto one of its victims. Why, or How the silicate got up that tree is certainly the question here. It seems like a completely inefficient way to ambush prey which is also unlikely to happen to stand under that single tree containing a silicate. Obviously this plan paid off in the movie, but it still feels completely out of place in a movie that is otherwise played completely straight.

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