Peter Cushing fights rubber monsters on the … Island of Terror (1966)
The famous Peter Cushing moved to the Island of Terror and tried to distract my attention from my girlfriend at the drive-in. This 1966 film has all the famous, B-Movie devices and seems as hammy as any other Hammer horror movie. To prove it, some scientists who work on the lonely island proclaim that they may have discovered the cure for cancer. Of course, the experiment blows up in their faces. Are we supposed to laugh at cancer research? I didn’t. Honestly.
Peter Cushing summons the spirit of Jonathan Harker and acts as the primary consultant for a mysterious outbreak that spreads all over the island. They investigate and find one man’s dead body on the ground sans bones, the first victim of this…disease thing. That’s right, he had no bones in his body. I’m not even sure if that’s possible.
Detective #1: His body’s all like jelly!
Oblivious Man #1: Jelly?
Detective #1: What should we do?!
The premise for this movie is what ultimately ruins it. A body with no bones? Say what? Well, beyond the implausibility, I have to wonder if this is really as “horrific” as they make it out to be. Good thing Peter Cushing is in this movie, because it needs help. Badly. By the 15 minute mark, this movie is not going anywhere.
Treating the mystery like a disease, Peter Cushing recruits his science pals to help him. They don’t seem to be working fast enough, because the bodies start piling up. They talk about science for a while and Cushing looks through a microscope to make sure we get the idea that they are investigating. It doesn’t help that the rubber looking bodies make the premise even worse.
Cushing #1: Let’s have a look at that body.
[Man pulls back the sheet off the body]
Cushing #1: Not a pretty sight.
Eventually, they discover the creatures causing all this mess. It wasn’t a disease at all. Instead, it was a monster attack causing all the trouble, which makes this movie even more ordinary. The monster is a turtle-like creature with a single appendage and it is immune to all attacks. The townsfolk watch a Frankenstein movie, then band together to destroy it, but bullets, fire, and dynamite have no effect. Yes, dynamite doesn’t work. Seriously.
Investigator #1: That creature is over there, but let’s not take any unnecessary risks.
Cushing #1: Especially with me.
The dialogue is unintentionally comedic, such as the lines I’ve quoted from the film, and Peter Cushing has the best dialogue in the movie. The creature itself is pretty gross and it splits in two at one point, then oozes down a hallway.
At one point, Cushing and his pals hop into a car and it conveniently stalls. They cut to a shot of the small monster sitting in the middle of a huge field and the characters gape in astonishment that this monster is so close. I think that shot was supposed to be suspenseful. Is it plastic? And it’s not even moving? Okay? I was more scared that this movie wasn’t ending fast enough.
In the end, the townsfolk finally kill the creature by poisoning its lunch with radioactive isotopes. Anyway, this movie was pretty forgettable, and only Peter Cushing fans might like it, sorry to say. Planet Films released this film as a double-feature with another, even more forgettable movie, The Projected Man (1967) starring…nobody famous.
All in all, this movie is pretty dated and works only as a nostalgic trip back into the 60s. Peter Cushing really is an icon, but he is wasted in this film. Much of the exposition is given to other characters and that makes Cushing merely a bystander, which is a big mistake. The other characters don’t have the presence of Cushing and their dialogue just isn’t as good. As for the monster, it just wasn’t very impressive. I’m all for monster movies, but an oozing rubber glob just didn’t do it for me.