Synopsis: Following an oil tanker spill near the island of Balfe, Doctor Del Shaw (Ian Bannen) of Doomwatch, the British government’s environmental monitoring organisation, is sent to investigate its effects on the remote fishing village. But he soon discovers strange happenings abound in the community.
The Island men folk are displaying signs of aggression, insolence and unusual facial deformities that appear to be transforming them into new Neanderthals. The villagers are suspicious of the stranger in their midst, but with the help of local teacher (Judy Geeson), the doctor soon discovers the cause, but can he find a cure?
Review: Following up on the popular seventies TV series, which was released earlier this month is this restored version of the cult movie, which followed up on the series. The film was directed by Peter Sasdy who took the premise of the television series to a feature film format and provides a truly compelling mystery.
Although somewhat dated with the seventies styles and the portrayal of village life. The narrative that drives the film is still relevant and frightening.
The trouble is caused by a pituitary growth hormone that has been dumped by an industrial company, which was producing the hormone in order to boost growth of animal livestock, only it wasn’t working out as planned and has dire effects on the villagers who are being dosed with the hormone via the local fishing trade.
The villagers believe the disease to be punishment for inbreeding and such, which is apparently common place in Balfe according to the local priest. This belief combined with the villages natural suspicion of strangers does not help the folk from Doomwatch with their investigation or their attempts to remedy the situation.
Initially Doomwatch suspect that the village is being effected by waste that has been dumped by the navy, but it turns out to be a separate company that has been illegally dumping the growth hormone.
Made in 1972 the film shows is only really dated by the 1970’s styles. The restoration for this release is well done, but it still looks somewhat grainy when the lighting is darker, which I’d put down to the film stock quality of the day.
It’s definitely what I’d describe as a cerebral science fiction adventure where the science and the potential dangers discussed in the movies narrative are most definitely a possibility if things were not regulated.
Ian Bannen is convincing as Shaw who is the main character in the film.
It was also nice to see series regulars Dr. Quist (John Paul) and Dr. John Ridge (Simon Oats) who were used fairly sparingly given that much of the films story took place on the island.
The special effects make up used on the actors playing the roles of those most effected by the condition is primitive by today’s standards, but works really well regardless of its limitations.
The ‘Doomwatch’ movie will be coming to DVD and Blu Ray on June 20. The DVD will be priced at approximately £12.99 while the Blu Ray edition will likely retail at roughly £17.99.
It’s well worth having if you are a fan of ‘Doomwatch’ or if you are on the look out for a more cerebral science fiction story, which is sadly lacking these days when it comes to big studio films.
- Incidental Music9.0