Saturday, 1 June 2013

Island Of The Burning Damned

‘Night Of The Big Heat’ was known as ‘Island Of The Burning Damned’ in the USA, a ridiculously hyperbolic title for what is, unfortunately, a terribly tedious film.
Set on the remote Orkney Isle of Fara (actually uninhabited since the sixties), the premise is quite intriguing: the island is experiencing an incredible heat wave which has put all the phones out of order, killed all the sheep and left all the men with enormous sweat patches. That sort of weather is unusual enough for Scotland, of course, but it’s absolutely unheard of in November.
Stupefied from the heat, the villagers mainly gather around the local pub and bicker with each other. Peter Cushing is there, inexplicably wearing a jacket that looks like it’s just had a bucket of water thrown over (take it off, Peter, just take it off). Visiting rude twat scientist Christopher Lee is up to something strange, but is too rude and twattish to let the islanders in on it. The pub landlord (Patrick Allen, always good value) is also a writer, and his life is complicated by the arrival of his ex-lover, who is posing as his secretary and spends most of her time exposing parts of herself to him. As if it wasn’t bloody hot enough. It doesn't sound a lot on paper, but I had high hopes for it.
From here on in, however, the film very, very, very slowly degenerates into something extremely dull indeed. There are half a dozen deaths and, ultimately, a dynamite attack on an extraterrestial race who resemble rocks with lights in them but it’s all done at such a draggy pace that even the supposedly exciting climax is like watching the proverbial pigment grow parched. In the end,  it starts to rain and the hot rocks, having travelled thousands of light years to take over our world, are killed by it. Yes, that’s right, aliens who can be killed by rain decided to start their invasion of Earth in Scotland. Idiots.
From the same crazy fools who brought us the magnificently titled ‘Island of Terror’, ‘Night of The Big Heat’ has no particular real reason to be so dull, it just is. Perhaps the temperature got to them all.

Some notes on Patrick Allen:

Allen is a proper old school actor. He’s not particularly good at the dramatic stuff, but he has a wonderful, sonorous voice and a very expressive physiognomy. His straight face is so straight it’s almost funny, which is why he keeps it mobile. I never believe that he believes it, he's just glad to be there. In this film, there’s a scene where he’s driving along and he just seems full of childlike joy, as if he can’t quite believe that someone is paying him to kiss girls and attack aliens and pretend to be driving along. There’s no method for Patrick, his motivation is that it’s his job, and it's fun. He specialises in capable, rough hewn types who ladies like and men respect, the sort of man who can tie knots, rig up a generator, make a boat out of a fallen tree and smoke a hundred cigarettes and kill a dozen Germans before breakfast, all whilst wearing extremely tight trousers. I miss him.


  1. Chief, your original wordsmithing has just surpassed even your own previous high standard with a five word phrase that I would never have previously imagined:
    "...rude twat scientist Christopher Lee..."
    Brilliantly surprising, sir.

  2. Doubtless you are already aware of this, but NOTBH was released in France with hardcore sexy footage added.
    Perhaps Peter finally did take his jacket off ?

  3. I did not know that, and now I can't get it out if my head.