Sci-Fi · TV & Movies

Island of Terror (Film Preservation Blogathon)

The idea of the the Film Preservation Blogathon is to raise money for preserving films! Here are the details from originator Ferdy on Films:

Our film is Cupid in Quarantine (1918), a one-reel Strand Comedy that tells the story of a young couple conspiring to stay together by staging a smallpox outbreak. The amount we’re shooting for is $10,000 to go to the National Film Preservation Foundation to cover laboratory costs for the film’s preservation as well as a new score for the film’s web premiere. The streaming film will be available free of charge to everyone online at the NFPF website.

In keeping with the general idea of Cupid in Quarantine, the idea is to blog about any scifi movie and draw attention to the donation link. The blogathon is hosted on three different blogs that will be listing the participants on each day. Go here for the schedule and more information about everything.

Or, since I know you’re busy, just skip all that and click this button to donate:

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Island of Terror (1966)

Peter_CushingIsland of Terror is a British scifi-horror movie starring Peter Cushing, whom you probably know better as Grand Moff Tarkin! He was a regular in Hammer horror films, among other things. (This particular movie is not Hammer, it’s Planet Film Productions, but I thought you might like to know). I watched the movie on Svengoolie recently, entirely on the strength of “1966 scifi horror” and “Peter Cushing.” I was not disappointed… I’m into sixties scifi. This is no revelation. I liked Island of Terror because it reminded me of many sixties Doctor Who episodes. British, calm, scientifically-minded even if the science makes zero sense. (Peter Cushing also played the Doctor in some delightfully terrible non-canon Doctor Who movies, just FYI…)

Anyway, here’s a spoilery summary: On an island off Ireland, a body is found with all its bones gone. The islanders call in some doctors and scientists from the mainland, including Peter Cushing. After some investigation, Peter Cushing discovers that the scientists on the island, in trying to cure cancer, accidentally created bone-dissolving monsters! And the monsters are multiplying! They try to kill the monsters with guns, explosives, etc., eventually realizing not violence but SCIENCE will save the day — ingesting a certain radioactive material kills the monsters.

Island_of_TerrorOkay, it’s not that great of a movie. The science is beyond ridiculous, and the plot otherwise is utterly straightforward. It’s noticeably sexist, and the one female character is included mainly as eye candy, not as a meaningful role. I did love having a trio of scientists as the leads, behaving in generally reasonable and science-y ways, but the characters themselves weren’t very memorable. It’s enjoyable, but so are a gigglety-jilion other movies.

I’m still glad I watched it, though, and I’m glad it’s still extant, because in the grand scheme of things video is a remarkably recent innovation. Island of Terror let me look into the past, to see how people of fifty years ago looked and talked and acted. How they assumed men and women should be, what they were afraid of and how they thought of science. It’s staged and stylized video, certainly, but that’s still worth something and illustrates how people thought during that period. For times before the 20th century, we just don’t get that opportunity at all.

Island of Terror is fun to watch, and that’s good enough, but I also just don’t want to see anything get thrown away. Without an eye toward preservation, whole moments in time can be lost forever. We shouldn’t let that happen, when film preservation is comparatively so easy.

I can’t wait to see Cupid in Quarantine!

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7 thoughts on “Island of Terror (Film Preservation Blogathon)

  1. Peter Cushing was such an amazing actor. I wish that he’d had the opportunity to work in more non-genre films, instead of being pretty much typecast to appear in horror, sci-fi and mystery. But the work he did do in those movies, even the low-budget ones, was almost always great.

    If you have not seen it already, I recommend viewing Horror Express (1972) which co-stars Cushing and Christopher Lee. They play rival scientists who are forced to work together to combat a monster on the Trans-Siberian Express. It’s one of the few times both of them got to play the heroes in the same movie.

    Like

    1. I’ve got a collection of 60s-70s horror movies to watch, and Horror Express is one of them! Super excited! I really had no idea who he was beyond Tarkin and The Doctor originally, but I’m developing a slight obsession now. His Sherlock Holmes is now one of my top two.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Darn it, I missed this one on Svengoolie. “the scientists on the island, in trying to cure cancer, accidentally created bone-dissolving monsters” — a common mistake. Thanks for the enticing review. I won’t miss it next time.

    Liked by 1 person

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