Also known as: Night of the Silicates, The Creepers, The Night the Creatures Came, The Night the Silicates Came
Release Date: June, 20th 1966 (UK)
Directed by: Terence Fisher
Written by: Edward Mann, Al Ramsen
Based on: an original story by Mann and Ramsen
Music by: Malcolm Lockyer
Cast: Peter Cushing, Edward Judd, Carole Gray, Eddie Byrne
Planet Film Productions, Universal Studios, 89 Minutes
Without it being pointed out, one would most likely assume that Island of Terror was a Hammer Films picture. It stars one of their premier actors, Peter Cushing. It is also directed by one of their premier directors, Terence Fisher. In fact, I always thought of this as a Hammer horror classic until I just watched it again. Not only did I feel stupid, upon discovering this, but I guess my twelve year-old self should’ve read the opening titles better.
However, Fisher and Cushing’s involvement with this movie brought it close to that Hammer quality. And frankly, this is a pretty solid British horror film from the 1960s, in the same vein as many of their other classics.
Island of Terror takes place on a remote island off the coast of Ireland. A farmer and the island’s constable go missing. They are found dead with their bones missing from their corpses. There are no cuts or any other signs of the bones being extracted. A physician, a pathologist, a bones expert and his wealthy jet-setter girlfriend head to the island to investigate the strange case.
Once there, they discover a secret lab under a mansion. In the lab they ran some sort of strange experiments. They soon discover the tragic result of the experiments gone wrong. Our heroes come face to face with silicates, a biological sort of pod creature with a sole tendril that latches on to living mammals and liquefies their bones, in order to digest them. It is also discovered that each silicate splits in two, every six hours. The doctors suspect that the island will be overrun with them in days and therefore, they must act quickly in finding a way to destroy them.
The special effects in Island of Terror aren’t fantastic. They also aren’t bad. They are on par with what Hammer was doing at the time, so since this was made by a less successful studio, this is somewhat of an accomplishment. The silicates weren’t very exciting creatures and certainly weren’t too imaginative in their design but they served their purpose.
Peter Cushing was the only person to really have a true presence on-screen. Everyone else just felt flat and uninteresting. The rest of the male cast was just your standard generic boffin types. The girl was also fairly generic. While these types of films rarely have a full ensemble that is engaging, everyone here is pretty forgettable. And maybe that is where you can see that this isn’t a Hammer picture.
Despite my criticisms, Island of Terror is still a fairly good 60s British horror movie. It has the right atmosphere, features one of the godfathers of British horror and it is entertaining, overall. Besides, it is much better than some of the later Hammer pictures.