This blog is a place for Me to review classic British films (in particular horror films) by Hammer, Amicus and the like. But I will occasionally branch out and review international films as these are the international counterpart to the British films, some of which will include works by American International Pictures, Mario Bava et al. I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Island of Terror

SPOILER ALERT! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! SPOILER ALERT!

On a remote island, scientists have been experimenting to create a cure for cancer. But their experiments go wrong and create a creature that goes about killing the locals. Now doctors from the mainland must travel to the island to stop these creatures before they consume the entire population.



Island of Terror is a 1966 Planet Film Productions production. It stars Edward Judd, Peter Cushing and Carole Gray. It was directed by Terence Fisher.

“If we're successful today, we may have the cure for cancer.” Just from that one line alone I now know they're not going to have the cure for cancer and that instead it's going to go horribly wrong. This is reinforced by the title blasting onto the screen just after he delivers that line. ISLAND OF TERROR in massive red on screen text.

Hmm, intriguing a body has been found but there's something not quite right about it. It has no bones. He's just a sort of jelly thing, think Boneless Chicken.

Woh shit! I wasn't sure whether we'd get to see the boneless guy, all we'd seen was the body from obscure angles and seen/heard people's reactions to it. But then we get a shot of his face when the doctors are about to perform an autopsy. It completely got me by surprise. Then on top of that is Cushing's Dr Stanley who delivers the best possible response “Not a very pretty sight.” Classic.



Oh no! This infection is spreading. They head to Dr Phillips' place (Dr Phillips is the one who was working on the cancer cure) to use his lab, but they find that he and others have gone mushy too.

No, not the animals. It's effecting the animals too, a farmer found his horse all squishy.

Ooh! Something slid down the back of the car, we see if from inside the car so it looked like a flat creature. It looked a bit like a giant pancake. It would be funny if it turned out to be Pancake Day and some guy figured he'd try and beat the Guinness World Record, but when he flipped it it flew out the window and landed on the car.



Ooh! They've bumped into two of the creatures back at Dr Phillips' place. (They are not pancakes.)

As it turns out, these creatures are of Dr Phillips' creation. He was creating a creature to consume cancerous cells, but it went wrong and he accidentally created a creature that consumes bone. Now these creatures are running riot all over the island consuming people's bones. And if that isn't enough, every 6 hours they divide doubling their population each time. Additionally, they have a strong exoskeleton so they're hard to kill. So essentially, the people of this island are screwed.

That was brilliant! There's a group of people, locals and the mainland doctors, throwing bombs and shooting the creatures in the woods. But then no one noticed one of them lurking up a tree which then drops down and lands on top of one of the locals. Classic.



Intriguing. A radioactive dog (contaminated from one of Dr Phillips' previous experiments) got eaten by one of the creatures, but it killed the creature. HA! They are effected by radioactive material. The plan: contaminate the cattle and make them radioactive so the creatures eat them and die.

Shit! One of the creatures latched onto Dr Stanley's hand, so the other guy did the only thing he could to to save his life. He chopped Dr Stanley's hand off with an axe. Got me by surprise I was expecting him to cut the creature's tentacle latching thing, but no Dr Stanley's hand. Bit like Evil Dead 2. Holy shit, Peter Cushing running around with a chainsaw for a hand would be awesome.

Yey! It worked. After what appeared to be a failed attempt to stop the creatures as after they consumed the cattle they divided which in turn halved the effect of the radioactive substance. But it just made the effect take longer to kick in. It managed to kill them just in time before the creatures got all the locals.

As the helicopter flies in to land, one of the men says “We're lucky this is an island. If this had have happened anywhere else I don't think we would have been able to destroy them.” Next thing we see is another lab (I presume in China seen as the signs on the door are in Chinese) where a scientist screams as he is killed off screen by one of the creatures.

I rather liked this, I knew absolutely nothing about it so I was expecting a horror but I was pleasantly surprised to find it was a sci-fi. The story seems to me like something you could picture being either a Quatermass film or a Jon Pertwee/Tom Baker Doctor Who story. It's a good story, the acting is good. It's an enjoyable sci-fi. It's got Peter Cushing starring and it's directed by Terence Fisher so you know it's going to be good. I really liked the model work for the boneless people, I thought it was really good and as I mentioned earlier it got me off guard because I was expecting not to see it as it had avoided showing the face for some time then the reveal got my by surprise which was great. It's a good 60s science fiction film, watch it.

Island of Terror 4/5

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

X

SPOILER ALERT! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! SPOILER ALERT!

Experimenting with the idea of enhancing the receptors in one's eye to allow a person to see through objects, Doctor Xavier tests his serum on himself. Now with the ability to see through anything, Xavier continues studying it and continues increasing the dosage. But how far will he go? And how long will his sanity last with this God-like vision?



X is a 1963 American International Pictures production. It stars Ray Milland, Diana Van der Vlis and Harold J Stone. It was directed by Roger Corman. It is also known as The Man With the X -Ray Eyes.

Wow, I don't believe he is a real doctor, lighting his cigarette in the lab with a Bunsen burner. It's not like he's experimenting with something important and potentially dangerous, he's only creating something to inject into HIS EYES so lets light up the cigarettes and pollute the air around it.



Xavier's point of view X-ray vision does look pretty cool, especially later in the film when he's taken too much and everything becomes all psychedelic and groovy.



He may be an older gentleman be he knows how to use X-ray vision like a teenager. He's uses his new found snazzy vision to look at people in the nip while they're dance at a house party. This is what X-ray vision was meant for, none of that so you can operate on patients more accurately. Bah, it's for looking at people in the nip, even if Xavier does only look at people's backs and feet. It appears he can see through everything but necklaces, these women may be nude but they're still proudly wearing their pearl necklaces. This is his weakness; pearl. Then again I say weakness, he's not Superman he could be killed by something as simple as a nut allergy.



There are some very bad camera errors in this. They're only small niggly things but there's that many of them that these somewhat little niggly errors are building up and really aggravating me. For many of the Xavier point of view shots the camera isn't even positioned correctly, for instance when he's talking to someone and it's his point of view the camera isn't looking at them as it would be if you were taking to someone, the camera is positioned looking at them from a different angle so the person is side view on even though they're supposed to be looking Xavier in the eye. It's done so many times too, which is so annoying. Even more annoying is the fact that they have a fair few of them done correctly, so why not do them all correct? It's piss poor, that's what it is.



Holy fuck! Xavier pushed Jim (his friend) out of the window in what appeared to be a little shove to get him out of the way knocked him flying out of the window and plummeting to his death. X-ray vision has given him increased strength?

There's more stupid mistakes, unless they're intentional, they're not referred to as being intentional so I can only assume they're mistakes. Now he's gone on the run from killing his friend and is now posing as a psychic at a fairground. He sits on a stage with a band over his eyes and “sees” things about people. But the things he sees wouldn't be possible even with X-ray vision at the distance he is sitting. He is able to see the details of the contents of a guy's wallet even though he's sat some distance away from him. What, does he have zoom vision now?! This wasn't mentioned! It's worth noting that by the end of the film he says he can see the centre of the universe, more zoom vision? Fucked if I know what's going on, for a film about a man with X-ray eyes this film has gone too far beyond reality.

What a tool! If you intend to take on Vegas with the help of your X-ray vision, then don't show off to the extent that you're telling the dealer what the next card in the deck is. Dumb ass!

Ah! His eyes are getting worse, they're now black with gold irises.

Ah! They're completely black now!



He enters a religious gathering and explains about seeing the centre of the universe and no longer liking what he sees (guess that's what you get for not being content and wanting the vision of the Gods). So the Preacher reads out a ling from the Bible “If thine eyes offend thee, pluck it out.” So Xavier proceeds to very quickly pluck his eyes out. END. That is a good ending actually, from all the annoying things that have gone on before it that have “offended thee” that was a good way of trying to make up for them. I liked it.

Apparently there is an alternate ending where Xavier plucks his eyes out then when it fades to black we hear him scream “I can still see!” That would have been brilliant, apparently Roger Corman didn't like it so he stuck with the one we've got, but I personally think that would have been a brilliantly dark and horrifying ending.

This is a film I've been wanting to see for the best part of 10 years, I first read about it years ago and thought it sounded brilliant. Only just recently I was able to get hold of it, and unfortunately I was vastly disappointed. It was just no where near as good as I expected it to be, whether it was my years of anticipation that ruined it I don't know, but it just didn't thrill me like I had hoped. It was at times just slow and boring even though it's got a cool plot about a guy going about with X-ray eyes seeing through stuff. I'll admit it is good in areas, the bit when he knocked Jim out of the window completely got me by surprise and instantly caught my attention again. It's doesn't drag too badly as it's only about 75-80 minutes, but for a film of that length you would expect constant entertainment. Ray Milland was good, I liked the groovy visuals which for a low budget 60s film were good. Maybe a second viewing will improve my viewing pleasure for this one because I really wanted to like it but it just left me disappointed. The story is great, I just don't think it was executed greatly, fair enough I understand it was a low budget feature but come on it doesn't take budget to get the camera positioned correctly.

X 2/5