It’s time for another one of those really old films. I’d say that the poster is click-bait, but I suppose that the aliens could maybe consume the world someday…maybe. Either way I can’t really say that they’re very scary, but they’re deadly enough to make them a legitimate threat. While this pales in comparison to the average creature feature, it’s not all that bad. I can’t imagine anyone taking it seriously even back in the good ole days though. It’s just too fantastic, but not necessarily in an epic way.
It would appear that the scientists are busy at work creating more menaces. They finally have a breakthrough and create an all powerful snail which can destroy a person with a single touch by sucking up all of their salt. Hopefully you’re one of those “No Johns” after a match or you’ll be a quick target. Brian, David, and Reginald have to use their scientific knowledge to find out what this creature’s weakness is and how they can destroy it. The problem is that it begins to split every minute or so and eventually starts to take over the island. At its present speed, it’ll even cover the world soon so every minute is precious. The one question on everyone’s minds is “Do these things actually have a weakness?”
As this film is also part horror, you’ll notice that the heroes rarely make the right decisions. At one point they are face to face with one of the creatures. Keep in mind that they are exceptionally slow so they should never land a hit right? Wrong! One of the main characters walks a little too close to one of them and then makes sure to trip so it gets the arm. Luckily another one of the leads was nearby with an axe so his partner was saved, but this is how the monsters keep snagging people. One overconfident hunter decided to walk under a tree as he didn’t see one camping into it and the fall was fatal. The creatures start to pick everyone off one at a time like this because there is no other reason for the people to lose to them. Even Constable John wasn’t safe as he decided to challenge one and didn’t fair so well. Apparently they are bullet proof as well.
Brian David and Reginald are all pretty similar characters. They’re all scientists of some nature or other and none of them have any real answers. It takes them a while to get any headway, but at least they keep it together for a while. One of them doesn’t however and that is David. He completely cracks and while this is the only thing that distinguishes him, it’s not something that you want to have on your resume. He grabs a lethal injection and tries to give it to Toni so that she won’t have to endure getting drained by the monsters. I certainly don’t agree with the sentiment and the worst part is that he doesn’t tell her about it. He tries to administer it to her without her consent. David just acts like everything is normal and subtly gets ready to end her life, but then they realize that the monsters are dying with a delayed reaction so everything is okay. David almost made a crucial mistake and Toni never even realized it. I thought that was pretty horrible and ruined David as a character. Toni was likable enough though. She was rich and had good connections. The character felt ahead of her time and while she didn’t help too much when the monsters showed up, she was useful overall and helped out the rest of the protagonists quite a bit.
I did like the film’s twist ending. It makes sense that America would be the first to create the monsters, but that other countries would try to copy us eventually. Japan comes up with its own version and it could prove fatal as the heroes admitted that their cure only worked because it was an island. In a major city with infinite tunnel ways and directions to choose from, nothing can stop the monsters. It’s a rather gloomy ending as the world is officially doomed now, but it’s handled with appropriate levity and was a fun way to end the film. You could argue that the humans deserves it as well since their cure was pretty bad.
They decided that the only way to beat the monsters was to force them to eat a bunch of cows that they had poisoned. So much for not trading one life for another right? It was definitely a pretty bad call and as everyone consented to it, it shows how noble these guys really are. I like to think that a real main character would have stepped in and prevented this from happening. There’s always another way after all and this one just was not worth it. Hopefully the monsters find their way back to the island quickly to take everyone out. The rest of the inhabitants were also pretty annoying as they kept picking fights so aside from Toni, there weren’t any real great characters. I liked the Sheriff well enough, but he didn’t last too long and the other scientists were fairly generic. Not bad, but they just didn’t have much character.
Finally, I should mention that the characters do come up with a pretty bad final plan. They all hide out in a closed room so that the monsters can surround them. Can you guess how the monsters react to this? They break in through the windows and the ceiling so everyone starts to get wrecked. Luckily the cure had started working by then so they were dying, but it wasn’t a smart plan. Since the monsters are slow, outrunning them in the wild makes a lot more sense than putting yourself in a building. This kind of mistake happens in a lot of horror films and you’re always left shaking your head. An open field is always preferable to a locked house, the latter just limits your options and seals your fate. Don’t make the same mistake as these guys, that should be your takeaway from all of this.
Overall, The Island of Terror is a pretty straight forward Creature Feature. It plays it by the book and the monsters had a decent enough design. I would never actually call them threatening to be honest, but their abilities were unique and being able to duplicate yourself is sure to come in handy for many occasions. The film had a reasonable sense of humor and didn’t take itself too seriously. It wasn’t all that violent and the suspense was handled well. I didn’t appreciate the mass cow slaughter though and that part holds it back a bit. Surely there should have been a bunch of better ways. It’s not a bad film and you should have fun watching it, but there are dozens of better films to watch from this era so you should check out one of those instead. This is the kind of one shot film that will be lost to the history records and I can’t say that it deserves any better, but at least it’s the kind of obscure gem that is interesting enough to watch.