Although British horror spent most of its time in the sublime gothic landscapes of Hammer and its imitators or the tacky modern milieu of Amicus, every now and then some enterprising producer would decide that a holiday from these cliché ridden settings was needed. These horror holidays were largely set on islands off the coast of Britain, and enough of these films were made to form something of a subset within British horror/science-fiction. The most famous island excursion was the fateful investigation of Sgt. Howie on Summerisle. The apples are delicious but some of their customs might disagree with you. Other famous entries in addition to The Wicker Man (1973) include Doomwatch (1972), Island of Terror (1967) and Tower of Evil (1972). One of the more interesting and a personal favourite of mine is Night of the Big Heat. Its daft and its silly, but in the best tradition of British genre filmmaking it possesses a strange charm distinctly lacking in modern science-fiction/horror films. This particular film was also a holiday for director Terence Fisher who was on a temporary hiatus from his normal paymasters Hammer. Here he is working for producer Tom Blakely and his outfit Planet Film Productions (see also Island of Terror and Devils of Darkness (1965)). He was also swapping the genre of gothic horror for science-fiction, a change he wasn’t particularly well suited too - one only has to look at his earlier sci-fi flick The Earth Dies Screaming (1962) to see that Fisher didn’t hold science-fiction in the highest of regard.
© Shaun Anderson 2010