Island of Terror – UK, 1966 – overview and reviews

island of terror quad

‘They lived by eating human bones… and threatened to consume the world!

Island of Terror is a 1966 British science fiction horror feature film directed by Terence Fisher – he also helmed The Earth Dies Screaming and Night of the Big Heat for Planet Film – from a screenplay by Edward Mann (Cauldron of Blood; Seizure; The Mutations) and actor Al Ramsen.

Island of Terror title caption

Main cast:

Island-0f-Terror-1966Peter CushingEdward Judd (The Vault of Horror), Carole Gray (Devils of DarknessCurse of the Fly; The Brides of Fu Manchu), Eddie Byrne, Niall MacGinnis (Night of the Demon) and Sam Kydd (The House in Marsh Road).

The idea for the film came when producer Richard Gordon read the Gerry Fernback screenplay The Night the Silicates Came.

Island of Terror was released in the US by Universal Studios on a double-bill with The Projected Man.

On the remote Petrie’s Island, farmer Ian Bellows goes missing and his wife contacts the police. Constable John Harris goes looking for him and finds him dead in a cave without a single bone in his body.


Buy Blu-ray:

Horrified, Harris swiftly fetches the town physician Dr. Reginald Landers, but Dr. Landers is unable to determine what happened to the dead man’s skeleton. Landers journeys to the mainland to seek the help of a noted London pathologist, Dr. Brian Stanley.


Like Landers, Stanley is unable to even hypothesise what could have happened to Ian Bellows, so both men seek out Dr. David West, an expert on bones and bone diseases. Although Stanley and Landers interrupt West’s dinner date with the wealthy jet-setter Toni Merrill, West is intrigued by the problem and so agrees to accompany the two doctors back to Petrie’s Island to examine the corpse.

island of terror carole

In order for them to reach the island that much faster, Merrill offers the use of her father’s private helicopter in exchange for the three men allowing her to come along on the adventure…

Island of Terror Odeon Entertainment Blu-ray

Buy: DVDBlu-ray from


” …one of the very best monster movies to come out of Great Britain in the 1960’s. Not only do its script and direction give the audience credit for a great deal of B-movie erudition, it isn’t overly protective of its main characters (some surprisingly nasty things happen to some surprisingly important people in this movie), and its monsters, though none too convincingly realized, are an extremely imaginative departure from the mutant lizards and gigantic bugs we’re accustomed to in the genre.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting


“Island of Terror also lacks a great deal of conviction. The scene where Edward Judd is forced to cut off Peter Cushing’s arm to save his life would have had some brutal effect were it not undermined by the sight of Cushing cheerfully sitting up being bandaged in the following scene. The film taps into the peculiar isolationist mentality of 1960s Britain. Unfortunately the menace is too dull to be effective.” Moria

“Minor genre entry which makes the most of its low budget thanks to first rate direction by Terence Fisher, adequate special effects and attractive cinematography.” Alan Frank, The Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Handbook, Batsford, 1982


“It’s a strangely sedate movie, given its outré subject matter and lurid title, which is probably both a strength and a weakness. Fisher shoots it in naturalistic tones and the actors mostly give restrained performances. Cushing is excellent, as always, though his character often takes a backseat to Edward Judd’s more charismatic scientist character. He does get to lose a hand, though, in probably the film’s tensest moment.” Innsmouth Free Press

Carole Gray phallic silicate Island of Terror

“Minor genre entry which makes the most of its low budget thanks to first rate direction by Terence Fisher, adequate special effects and attractive cinematography.” Alan Frank, The Science Fiction and Fantasy Handbook

“Exteriors are interesting when we see the overcast skies, the foggy woods, the actors breathing in the midst. Action comes very often compared with other sci-fi horror films of the era. Weird blob sound effects might be overdone, and the coda is too campy, but these are minor flaws.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers


Buy: |

“While Island of Terror is great fun, it is a film of its era. In its day, it was pushing the limits of gore with its grotesque human corpses and the hand-chopping scene—but by today’s standards it is quite tame. Also, Carole Gray’s character is basically a trembling scream machine, but the film strikes a particularly sour chord when, unbeknownst to her, the men make preparations to euthanize her so she won’t be consumed by the silicates alive.” Top 100 Sci Fi Movies

“Fisher, better known for his Hammer horror films, creates some effective, if nasty, images.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction




Island of Terror Spanish poster




Island of Death Masters of Horror DVD

Buy Masters of Horror Collector’s Edition DVD from

silicate monster fridge magnet

A silicate monster fridge magnet

Cast and characters:

  • Peter Cushing … Dr. Brian Stanley
  • Edward Judd … Dr. David West
  • Carole Gray … Toni Merrill
  • Eddie Byrne … Dr. Reginald Landers
  • Sam Kydd … Constable John Harris
  • Niall MacGinnis … Roger Campbell
  • James Caffrey … Peter Argyle
  • Liam Gaffney … Ian Bellows
  • Roger Heathcote … Dunley
  • Keith Bell … Halsey
  • Margaret Lacey … Old Woman
  • Shay Gorman … Morton
  • Peter Forbes-Robertson … Dr. Lawrence Phillips
  • Richard Bidlake … Carson
  • Joyce Hemson … Mrs. Bellows

Image credits: Black Hole Reviews | Filmplakater | Peter Cushing blog

MOVIES & MANIA is wholly independent and we rely solely on the very minor income generated by affiliate links and internet ads to stay online. Please support us by buying via Amazon links and not blocking ads on our site. Thank you, we appreciate it.

Quick links to contents:

A | B | C | D | E  | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

20 Comments on “Island of Terror – UK, 1966 – overview and reviews”

  1. Did you know that, in addition to the censored axe scene, there is an extreme close up headshot of the first victim missing from all known prints of this film? Sadly, Odeon Entertainment’s recent Blu Ray doesn’t restore this shot.

    The missing shot occurred (at a timing of 12 minutes and 6 seconds on Odeon’s Blu Ray) between the scene with Dr. Landers and the constable in the cave with the farmer’s body, and the start of the FIRST autopsy scene, again with Dr. Landers and the constable, after the doctor examines the body in the lab.

    The gruesome headshot is the first time you see the results of a Silicate attack and is much more effective and shocking than the subsequent body shot that starts the second autopsy scene with the three doctors.

    Interestingly, if you listen carefully to the soundtrack at the aforementioned timing on the Odeon Entertainment Blu Ray release of this classic film, you’ll hear the music rise to a crescendo, and climax in a “shock” chord for no apparent reason: this is where the shot originally resided.

    I distinctly remember this shot when I saw IOT in a Canadian cinema when it was first released. It was the most memorable shot in the entire film, similar in effect to the classic close up of Dracula’s sudden entrance into the library in Fisher’s 1958 Dracula for Hammer Films. So Fisher used a similar effect here. The movie’s power and “wow” factor are diminished by the removal of this single shot. Can you imagine Hammer’s Dracula without Christopher Lee’s feral bloodied close up?

    The EFX dummies of the Silicates’ victims were nothing short of inspired for their day and were quite unique to this film, which the missing shot showcased so effectively! I presume the shot was subsequently cut because it was considered too gruesome at the time.

    It appears that this shot has been lost, especially since no one seems to know it even existed!

    1. I was a little kid when this movie was released for the first time in our neighborhood movie theater! I remember the “headshot” and yes it was the most scary part of the movie! It made everyone see what a Silicate can do to a human being!!! Somewhere some movie company must have a copy of the original theater version … intact .. with no parts missing!!!! We also do not see when the Silicate “greedly” drags away Dr. Stanley’s severed hand. My friend told me he felt that the Silicate dragging the severed hand away was the most scary part of the movie to him! Is there any Blu-ray DVD that contains these missing parts?????

      1. Alas, Jimmy Gibson, there are no BD or DVD versions yet released to my knowledge that have the missing shot. We seem to be a small group of film veterans who actually remember this version! Like you, I’d love to see this unique horror/sci-fi classic completely restored! The recently released BD by Shout Factory/Scream Factory in the US, is the best hi-def version out there in my opinion, with great picture balance and detail, and an entertaining commentary… minus the aforementioned shot, unfortunately. Your friend’s recollection of an additional shot of the Silicate making off with poor Mr. Cushing’s hand sounds intriguing. It was not in the print I saw back in 1966. I wonder if these shots exist somewhere in Japan, just like the famous missing footage of Hammer’s Dracula (1958), which was recently restored? Here’s hoping…!

        1. Just to be clear, the famous axe scene in Island of Terror where Edward Judd severs Peter Cushing’s hand, is included in the recent BDs by Shout Factory and Odeon Entertainment. The shot shows an extreme close up of the hand being amputated at the wrist with the Silicate pulling the hand out of shot, stage right. Apparently this scene was originally cut by producer, Richard Gordon, as being poorly done and unrealistic, but was reinstated at the request of the powers that be at Universal, who distributed the film in North America.

        2. 2. The part where the silicate grabs Brian by his wrist and David is forced to chop it off to save Brian’s life is included this DVD version but I guess due to the absence of big theater screen you can’t see the greedy silicate quickly drag away the severed hand and scurry off with it. This is important because it helps us understand why David thought it was safe to go the car trunk to get some medication for Brian.

          David and the audience are then shocked when the silicate quickly returns and now is attacking David!!!! If the Silicate stays there after Brian’s hand is chopped off why would David go back there knowing the silicate is still there??? That makes no sense!!! This is why that this edited part is so important to the sequence of events!!! My friend liked seeing the silicate scurrying away with Brian’s severed hand so much that he had me stay and watch the movie twice to make sure I got a clear look at that all important part. It happens very quickly so if you blink you will miss it!!!! However, it was well worth sitting through the movie a second time to take a very close look at this scene.
          Thank you for responding so soon!

          1. Here are two other parts that may are missing from video version I recently saw.
            3. The part where Toni, Brian and David have just run out of the mansion (Silicate Central) and David can’t get the car started. A silicate lurking about outside the mansion spots them!!! The silicate starts moving towards them … slowly but surely ….determined to enjoy a hearty meal and leave yet another horrible corpse behind. Fortunately David gets the car started. In an effort to stop them the silicate runs onto the road. David runs over the silicate and they escape. However the silicate is unharmed!!! This is an important part because David mentions this incident to the people in the town hall!!!
            People watching the edited video will think “When did this happen?” “How did we miss this that?”

            4. Toni almost gets eaten by a silicate in Silicate Central (The Mansion)
            Toni walks a little bit ahead of Brian and David not fully understanding the danger they are in and the ability of the Silicates to execute sneak attacks!!! Sure enough next thing she knows she cornered by a silicate’s tentacle! This part is mysterious because the silicate takes its time smelling andlooking at Toni???

            1. On No. 4 I made a mistake. Toni almost gets killed by a silicate in the Town Hall at the end of the movie. I noticed that from a picture on the internet of Toni being attacked by a silicate.

          2. Hi Jimmy Gibson! The way I interpret the axe scene as existing now, is that Cushing puts the silver case into the trunk after opening the boot/trunk with the car keys, and the unseen Silicate grabs his wrist from the building side of the car. (Though how Cushing or Judd missed seeing, or hearing the noisy thing when they came out of the building, is questionable… unless it was UNDER the car! Those pesky critters do get around in tree branches and car roofs!) The axe scene occurs and you see the Silicate’s sucker/head pull the poor doctor’s hand off screen briefly. I assume the creature stays where it is chow-downing on its handy hors d’oeuvre (sorry, couldn’t resist!). Judd bundles Cushing into the opposite side of the car, and applies a tourniquet to the doctor’s arm as Cushing says, “Keys in the boot…” That’s why Judd goes back to the boot to retrieve the car keys, and the Silicate that we presume is still there, tries to grab him too, after finishing its paltry meal… that’s my take anyways! Wow, we sure love this movie, don’t we? We’re like two sci-fi authors having fun making sense of nonsensical things! Thank you for acknowledging my reply, and you’re welcome!

            1. Thank you so much for your prompt reply. Your take on it is sound. However, I still remember the silicate scurrying away with the hand because on the wide theater screen the picture the audience sees is so much larger than the tiny little “inset” picture we see via a DVD/BD or VHS. So many details are much larger and easier to see. I think if David had not seen the silicate scurrying away with Brian’s hand he would have been a lot more cautious when trying to retrieve the keys from trunk. (By the way: Thanks for pointing that out.) The Loew’s Spooner Theater had the movie reel which contains the uncut movie. Unfortunately, they went out of business and I do not know who did they give that extremely precious and valuable movie reel to. Unfortunately, I do not know from whom the Lowe’s Spooner Theater acquired their copy from. But one thing is for sure my friend and I remember that movie and many other parts were left out! I mentioned two of them in the my message prior to this one.
              I remember the silicate’s autopsy lasting longer. And you don’t see when David operates on Brian’s arm and Toni is forced to assist him. I have a friend who used to work as a projectionist in movie theater and I will ask him is there any way the original film can be seen. There is also a theater in my neighborhood which features unique movies foreign and domestic. It is possible they could have the original Island Terror movie in their warehouse. Hopefully, he will have the same version that the Loew’s Spooner theater had!!! That would be so cool!!!

              1. Hi Jimmy Gibson! Your additional remembrances are really intriguing! It reminds me that film is such an ephemeral medium; scenes and individual shots are added and subtracted over time, so the movie seldom stays the same as the director originally intended… As time goes on, the chances of seeing a complete version becomes slimmer and slimmer, especially with so called independent B pictures, like Island of Terror. The irony is that what footage survives today, can look even better, with digital restoration, than when the film was first released in theatres! For example, the US Blu-ray of IoT looks sharper and more detailed than the version I saw in the cinema so many years ago.
                Thanks for your insights into one of our favourite sci-fi/horror flicks!

                1. Hi Akatanaka: Here is a link to a picture of the deleted part where Toni is almost killed by a silicate during the encounter in “Silicate Mansion”. If you look at the DVD/BD you may not see this part. In the theater version Toni has to stay very still. Unfortunately, I don’t remember how our heroes pulled her away from the Silicate. (1966 was long time ago.) However, maybe this picture from that scene may help you to remember the scene!
                  Let me know if the link works for you. Thanks.

                  1. Hi Pam! Not to my knowledge can IOT be legitimately streamed online at this time. Did you try YouTube?

                    I heartily recommend US Scream Factory’s excellent BD which you can purchase through Amazon.

                    Concerning the Silicates eerie sound, I used to scare my friends as a kid, imitating their noise by making a high “shhhh” hissing sound through my mouth, and using my two hands cupped together and open as if ready to receive something in them, gently beating my cupped hands over my mouth very quickly while making the noise louder and softer. Quite effective… and FUN! Try it and scare yourself! 😉

                2. Here is my understanding of the Silicates killing process: The most horrifying thing about the Silicates is not what they look like but the extreme pain and horrific torture they inflict on their victims. They did not have a lot special affects in those days so we had to imagine what the Silicates did to their victims in great detail! For starters they would constantly electrocute their victims with the power of a super electric eel!!! This would paralyze the victims so they could not fight back. Next they would inject thousands of microscopic needles into their bodies (all over their bodies). Like a super giant jelly fish!!! Through those needles they would fire into the victims a powerful enzyme that would immediately cause their bones to turn to a liquid. The Silicates would then suck out the now liquid bones right out of victims body with the victim feeling every bit of pain being caused by this horrible process!!!! Like one of the island residents said at the end of the movie “It’s a nightmare”!!!!!! (I think the Silicate that grabbed Dr. Stanley’s wrist did fire the electrical shocks at him but it did not work because Dr. Stanley was holding onto the car causing him to be “grounded”!!! When silicate finally pulled him away from the car the silicate had given up using the electric eel charge. This is good because now Dr. Stanley was vulnerable to it! The filmmakers owe us three sequels: one for Japan, one for Rome and one for New York!!!!

                3. Hi Akatanka: Here is something interesting that I noticed: On the Island of Terror trailers that can be found on YouTube there is a scene when David and Brian walk into Silicate Manson to pick up some strontium 90 to kill the silicates. Do you remember when the lights “flickered”!!! On the trailer they play some very frightening music which is perfect for that moment making it extremely scary. In the DVD version I have the lights flicker but you don’t hear anything, so you (the audience) thinks nothing of it. In the future, I plan to buy the BlueRay version and I hope that at least that one really cool little part has not been removed!!!

                  1. Well I have the Blu-Ray it is great! However, it does not have the “head shot” of Ian Bellos first autopsy with Dr. Landers and Constable Harris. It does not show when they run over the silicate in front of Silicate Mansion. In slow motion you can see the silicate grip Brian’s severed hand and begin to pull it away. However, the rest has been cut. In the Mansion when Brian and David go there to get the Strontium 90 to kill the silicates the lights flicker but the scary sound you can hear on the trailer can’t be heard. That sound was perfect for that moment, I don’t understand why they would take that out????
                    Anyway, I also have found out that the VHS version is 89 minutes long. That is two more minutes than the 87 minutes Blu-ray!!! Also, someone who has the VHS tape said in a blog that the VHS version contains all the missing parts!!!

    1. This movie scared me so bad when I was a kid, I had to sleep on the couch for a week. I still dream about those silicates. I bought it years ago along with two other movies that messed me up, and I watched them with my kids. The sounds were Sooo creepy.

Leave your comment here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.