Night of the Big Heat is a 1967 British science fiction horror feature film directed by Terence Fisher from a screenplay written by Ronald Liles (producer of The Night Caller), based on the 1959 novel of the same name by John Lymington. The Planet Film production stars Christopher Lee, Patrick Allen, Peter Cushing and Jane Merrow.
Jeff and Frankie Callum run the Swan, an inn on the remote Scottish island of Fara. Jeff, a novelist in his spare time, hires a secretary named Angela Roberts. Unknown to Frankie, Jeff and Angela are former lovers.
The Callum’s moved to Fara Island so that Jeff could escape Angela’s amorous advances (although as far as Frankie knows, it was to escape the tedium of city life on the mainland). Angela wants to resume her fling with Jeff, despite Jeff wanting nothing to do with her.
Not helping matters much is the fact that despite the fact it’s the middle of November, Fara Island is experiencing a stifling and inexplicable heat wave, with temperatures in the 90s and rising daily. It has become so hot that cars stall, beer bottles shatter, televisions explode, and telephones have ceased to work. Into this tense situation comes Doctor Godfrey Hanson, a mysterious scientist from the mainland who rents a room…
“Island of the Burning Doomed’s greatest strength is the fact that it mainly keeps the aliens offscreen. This is not because of any intrinsic advantage in scare value that the unseen has over the seen […] but rather because of what the aliens look like once they are finally revealed. The aliens, and I am being completely serious here, resemble nothing so much as fried eggs the size of St. Bernard dogs.” 1000 Misspent Hours… and Counting
“It builds slowly, takes its time establishing its mysteries, and actually kills off some of its most sympathetic characters! Of Fisher’s three Quatermass knock-offs, it is by far the best, although I should note, for those bothered by such things (you know who you are) that it has some of the absolute worst alien monsters I have ever seen.” Mark Cole, Rivets on the Poster
“The OEG Blu-ray region free release features the 1967 sci-fi in a 16:9 aspect ratio, with LPCM mono audio. The quality of the transfer is a huge improvement on the digitally restored 2004 UK DVD release, but there are a couple of scenes that suffer from hot spots and scratches. The audio quality, however, is excellent, making Malcolm Lockyer’s superb score really swing…” Peter Fuller, Kultguy’s Keep
“Making extraterrestrial spiders look convincing would have defeated a budget many times greater than the one on offer from Planet, so the writers transformed the menace into creatures resembling large fried eggs, sliding gracelessly through Black Park.” John Hamilton, X-Cert: The British Independent Horror Film: 1951 – 1970
“The creatures, when they belatedly appear, are hopelessly cheap and un-terrifying, rather reminiscent of the low budget Doctor Who inventions of the era … the creatures are infinitely more intriguing when they’re off-screen. The tatty, papier-mache, ‘made-in-the-garage’ creations that show up for the final act of the film are more laughable than scary.” Leon Nicholson, FMV Magazine
“The film often resembles a tepid domestic drama rather than the sci-fi invasion extravaganza it is supposed to be … And if the monsters temperatures are so high, how come humans can survive so long in their presence? No sizzle, all drizzle.” Chris Wood, The Shrieking Sixties: British Horror Films 1960 – 1969
“Low budget thriller that fails to thrill with unconvincing monsters and an unequally unconvincing script, directed for considerably more than it’s worth.” Alan Frank, The Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Handbook, Batsford, 1982
“A good bit of hokum… Pity it’s an X: the kids would love it.” Kinematograph Weekly, 1967
The film was released theatrically in the United States in the winter of 1971 by Maron Films as Island of the Burning Damned, where it was paired up nationwide on a double-bill with Godzilla’s Revenge (aka All Monsters Attack, 1969). When it was released to US television it was retitled Island of the Burning Doomed.
Cast and characters:
- Christopher Lee … Godfrey Hanson
- Patrick Allen … Jeff Callum – Jack the Ripper TV Series (narrator); Space: 1999; Persecution; UFO TV series; The Body Stealers; The Devil Rides Out; Captain Clegg
- Peter Cushing … Doctor Vernon Stone
- Jane Merrow … Angela Roberts – The Spiritualist; Hands of the Ripper, The Horror at 37,000 Feet, The Appointment
- Sarah Lawson … Frankie Callum – Journey to the Unknown TV series; The Devil Rides Out
- William Lucas … Ken Stanley
- Kenneth Cope … Tinker Mason
- Percy Herbert … Gerald Foster (as Percy Hurbert)
- Thomas Heathcote … Bob Hayward (as Tom Heathcote)
- Anna Turner … Stella Hayward
- Jack Bligh … Ben Siddle
- Sydney Bromley … Old Tramp (as Sidney Bromley)
- Barry Halliday … Radar Operator