Director: Terence Fisher
Writer: Night of the big heat by John Lymington
Starring: Christopher Lee, Patrick Allen, Peter Cushing, Jane Merrow. UK. 1h 34m.
You know that feeling when you buy a DVD with the title Island of the Burning Damned, get past the menus and the film (finally) starts, then you’re presented with a title of Night of the Big Heat and you suspect something is wrong.. but all the actors seem to be present.. Humm.. Why do they release films with two different titles anyway it’s confusing for us retards.
That aside this cryptic sci fi thriller has a heavy noir undertone which is quite unusual especially for a film of this time period but it works well as hot flustered temperatures play a key role in this intrepid space horror.
For unknown reasons a small village in butfuck no where on the coast of Scotland; is experiencing bizarre hot weather, despite the rest of the country going through the typical British winter, the residents of this forlorn spot are sweating their nuts off. As the temperature soars a rugged scientist arrives with a few theories about what’s going on and while gas canisters explode and the town becomes isolated there is a bizarre love affair going on behind closed doors and out on the heath.
It’s one of those psycho stories that just lets its hair down and goes for it at full pelt, the movie was originally a short story and had been remade once into a short TV movie, it got the zany 60’s makeover and added talent from the typical Christopher Lee/Peter Cushing duo, where Lee is a crotchy genius and Cushing is more hands on bodywork. Similar to their work in many other classics like Horror Express (197). But they come together in their sweaty desperate attempt to work out what is making the the temperature rise and why the hottest areas are around radio stations, there are lots of scenes of verbal deliberation and the odd show of bravado, but it all works well.
Many have criticized the effects but the story remains true to the original book that it’s based on and the suspense and mystery all come from decent acting and the crazy situation, a group of ordinary people involved in an extraordinary event, it’ not often you’re isolated on a small site (luckily with a pub) and aliens are trying to make your planet their own. If you’re okay with something very cerebral with a dirty affair chucked in to add some flavour and liked similar films like Island of terror (1966), then you might be in for a treat??
R – Island of terror (1966), Lifeforce (198)
L – Selected 70’s Science Fiction Films, Selected Alien Invasion Films, Selected Alien Designs.
A – Do we need to see aliens to make a film more thrilling,
5S – Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing