ISLAND OF THE BURNING DOOMED (Night of the Big Heat)
(director: Terence Fisher; screenwriters: Pip Baker/Jane Baker/from novel “Night of the Big Heat” by John Lymington; cinematographer: Reginald Wyer; editor: Rod Keys; cast: Christopher Lee (Godfrey Hanson), Patrick Allen (Jeff Callum), Peter Cushing (Dr. Vernon Stone), Jane Merrow (Angela Roberts), Sarah Lawson (Frankie Callum), Kenneth Cope (Tinker Mason), Thomas Heathcote (Bob Hayward), William Lucas (Ken Stanley), Percy Herbert (Gerald Foster), Anna Turner (Stella Hayward), Jack Bligh (Ben Siddle), Sydney Bromley (Old Tramp); Runtime: 94; Planet; 1967-UK)
“This film should be liked most by fans of either Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing…”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The small northern island of Fara is finding the temperatures climbing into extreme heat conditions and getting hotter each day, even though it is winter and the weather should be as cold as it is on the British mainland. A secretive scientist, accused by the authorities of being a quack when he reports to them of the strange happenings on the island, Dr. Hanson (Lee), visits Fara and sets up a science lab in his room at the local inn, The Swan. He collects specimens of the blood from some dead sheep and sets up infra-red camera equipment to film unseen objects on the countryside. Hanson has a surly personality, which doesn’t endear him to the locals. But he becomes important with all the strange happenings taking place: beer bottles cracking in the heat, tempers flaring for no reason, many cars overheating, sheep inexplicably dying, sweat stains growing on shirts, strange whirring noises that are so intense it explodes a TV set and causes Bob Hayward (Heathcote) to go off the road and fatally crash his car. These strange happenings become a cause for alarm among the locals and the scientist now is looked upon as a possible savior.
Obviously there must be a rational explanation for this phenomena and it is offered by Hanson to Jeff Callum (Patrick Allen), a writer and owner of the hotel. He tells Jeff: “We are being invaded by aliens.”
Jeff has his own problems to deal with, which seemed very troubling just a moment ago as the most important thing in the world. His new secretary has arrived, an attractive vixen, Angela Roberts (Jane), who has her sexy fangs on the married writer. Since he still loves his wife but can’t resist Angela’s curvaceous body, he has feelings of guilt. She has come on her own, as he did not request her to be his secretary. He tells her to leave, but to no avail. Jeff’s suspicious wife, Frankie (Sarah), is told by the spiteful Angela that they knew each other before. Frankie sees them kissing and confronts Jeff who can’t seem to tell his wife the truth.
It is finally decided the heat is caused by the aliens who are starved for energy and that the aliens have materialized here the same way satellite signals work, and that they have come to this spot on earth because of the local observatory sending out scanning signals to outer space which are interfering with them. It doesn’t seem to help the story that there are no special effects to see these aliens.
Dr. Stone (Cushing) puts his life on the line to abet Hanson on his theory and pays the ultimate price, as he gets burnt to a crisp coming too close to the aliens and their terrific static noise.
The plan to dynamite the aliens, whose hiding place is located by Hanson, on the hilly road near the observation post, fails to kill them. But Hanson figures out that the light attracts them, so everyone in town who has been alerted to the problem dims their lights and drives without headlights. But all seems gloomy because if they can’t be stopped here, they will surely go on and attack the mainland.
This was just not a good sci-fi film. But I’ve seen worse, much worse, and somehow or other, this Hammer film was watchable — but barely. This film should be liked most by fans of either Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing, but it will most likely be appreciated by fans of Lee.
REVIEWED ON 1/31/2000 GRADE: C-