NIGHT OF THE BIG HEAT, AKA ISLAND OF THE BURNING DAMNED. (1967) RELEASED BY PLANET FILM PRODUCTIONS. BASED ON THE SCI-FI BOOK BY JOHN LYMINGTON. DIRECTED BY TERENCE FISHER. STARRING CHRISTOPHER LEE, PETER CUSHING, PATRICK ALLEN, SARAH LAWSON, KENNETH COPE AND JANE MERROW.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This is very similar to another Planet film I reviewed recently called ISLAND OF TERROR. It starred Peter Cushing on a remote island off the Irish coast with a lone pub on it, and he was trying to save the islanders (and also, I presume, the pub!) from a breed of artificially created monsters called silicates, who made a funny whirring noise and moved along the ground like the Blob from THE BLOB.
In NIGHT OF THE BIG HEAT, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are on a remote island off the Scottish coast with a lone pub on it, and they’re trying to save the islanders (and also, I presume, the pub!) from alien beings from another planet who make a funny whirring noise and move along the ground like the Blob from THE BLOB.
This film has tremendous heat in it as well though, a heat caused by the aliens which, if it’s allowed to continue, will turn Earth into a scorched wasteland like the planet Mars, and humans will no longer be able to survive on it. You can see, therefore, why the situation is somewhat pressing and why the aliens need to be eliminated post-haste.
At first, Christopher Lee, tall and dark and devastatingly handsome in his white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, dark slacks and professorial glasses, is the only person on the island who realises that there’s a problem. He plays Godfrey Hanson (Godfrey Handsome, more like!), a scientist with an abrupt and rude manner who’s staying at the island’s one pub. (Which is why it’s so crucial to save it from the aliens, lol.)
He strides around the island by day, being abrupt and rude and scientist-y, trying to find proof that the island is, in fact, being targeted by aliens. Everyone else just thinks he’s nuts at first, but the terrible increasing heat on the island, unheard-of for winter, gradually forces the islanders into a communal change of mind. The island itself is heating up, and if the islanders don’t want to end up as barbecue, they’d better start listening to crazy old Professor Hanson…
Peter Cushing plays the suave and sociable intellectual, Dr. Vernon Stone, who proves an ally of the right intelligence for Professor Hanson. Which is just as well, as I don’t know how much help the womanising novelist Jeff Callum will be.
Beefcake Jeff (not for me but I can see why some women would) and his wife Frankie (Sarah Lawson; THE DEVIL RIDES OUT) own the Swan pub, the village’s one inn, and this cheating bastard Jeff is carrying on a sizzling affair with his hussy of a secretary Angela Roberts, right under his wife’s nose.
Sexy saucepot Angela has come to the island against his wishes, but now she’s here I don’t exactly see him fighting her off. And his wife Frankie is a real diamond as well. It’s a clear case of going out for hamburger when you’ve jolly well got steak at home. Tsk tsk, Jeff.
And in the meantime, telephone wires are melting in the ever-increasing heat, the bottles containing the precious booze are exploding (nobody tell Homer Simpson…!) with the high temperatures and the villagers are going mad. How long before their eyeballs melt and their blood begins, literally, to boil…?
One villager in particular, Tinker Mason (Kenneth Cope; CARRY ON, MATRON and CARRY ON AT YOUR CONVENIENCE), previously of good character, is driven to commit a heinous rape by the sweltering heat. Let’s hope that, once again, a good clout around the ear-holes with a giant ashtray will bring a man hell-bent on crime to his senses before too much damage to virtue has been caused, heh-heh-heh…
If you encounter the aliens yourself, here’s what will happen. You will see a great light on a lonely road and be drawn to it. Your eyes will widen in horror. You’ll take a few steps forward, then draw back in terror, your arms in the air. You will scream at the top of your lungs as the blinding white light envelops you in its deadly heat.
The next time we see you, you will look worse than the pizza I accidentally left in the oven for an hour and a half when the proper heating time was seven minutes. In short, you will be cremated. Not happy? Sorry, but them’s the breaks. The film is called NIGHT OF THE BIG HEAT, after all, not NIGHT OF THE MILD DISCOMFORT.
A poor old tramp is burnt to a crisp in this film. He looks like one of the tramps I used to read about in my beloved Enid Blyton books, one of those auld lads who used to ‘tramp’ the highways and byways of Britain in the good old days, living off the land and the goodwill of the folks who resided on it. Whatever happened to these poor old guys, anyway?
They adhered, of course, to a strict dress code: straggly long hair and beard, old torn mackintosh belted at the waist, several layers of grimy shirts and cardigans and, naturally, the shoes with the holes in the soles and that flapping effect at the front that no self-respecting tramp would be seen dead without. A wide-brimmed hat was optional, but only if the crown was completely missing. They kipped in hay-ricks and under hedges with a piece of straw in their mouths and told anyone who’d listen that this was the life for them.
They’d sniff around the bins of any given household and, in Enid Blyton’s THE FIVE FIND-OUTERS books, Pip or Larry or Fatty’s mum would give them a pair of old but still good shoes belonging to the man of the house. And if the auld lad was really lucky, he might be told to go round the back of the house to the kitchen door where Cook would give him a hot meal or a cup of tea. I presume this stuff doesn’t happen any more in real life. I really do wonder what happened to these staples of children’s fiction from the ’50s, the ’60s and the ’70s. Answers on a postcard, please.
Anyway, the ending of NIGHT OF THE BIG HEAT kind of annoyed me. Handsome people who should have lived are shockingly permitted to die, and big cheating bastards, who should be spending eternity in the flames of hell with little devils poking them in the arse with red-hot pokers, are allowed to live. Grrr. It’s still a great film though, and very similar to ISLAND OF TERROR, lol. Catch it if you can. How does that song go again? Hey, it’s getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
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