Night of the Big Heat is a 1967 British sci-fi horror film released by Planet Film Productions. Based on the 1959 novel of the same name by John Lymington, the film was directed by Terence Fisher, and starred Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Jane Merrow.
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. When the film was released years later on US television it was renamed Island of the Burning Doomed.
Jeff and Frankie Callum run the Swan, an inn and tavern 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 Callums 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 Dr. Godfrey Hanson, a mysterious scientist from the mainland who rents a room at the Swan. Hanson spends his time exploring the island, setting up motion-sensitive cameras and taking soil samples.
The locals, including the Callums, find this suspicious, especially since quite a lot more is going on Fara than just the heat and Hanson's snooping.
A homeless man is burned to death in a cave by something emitting a high-pitched whirring sound. Later, farmer Ben Siddle claims his sheep are all dead. Hanson examines the dead sheep and finds their corpses are badly burnt.
Swan regular Bob Hayward, is attacked by something on the road while driving into town. He crashes after being blinded by a bright light, which also creates enough heat to ignite the car's petrol tank.
Jeff finally corners Hanson and demands answers from him. According to the scientist, Fara Island is the site of an invasion by extraterrestrials, whose high body heat burns any living creature that gets too close to them. Jeff and Hanson attempt to stop the aliens with the help of local physician Dr. Vernon Stone.
Stone tries to get to Fara's radar station so he can alert the mainland of the invasion, but is waylaid by the aliens and killed. Hanson tries to makes it next, but witnesses the death of Stella Hayward, Bob's wife, and realises the aliens are attracted to light. At the radar station, he learns that the aliens already destroyed all their communications equipment, making it impossible to call for help.
Quickly formulating a plan, Hanson summons Jeff, Frankie and Angela up to the radar station. He and Foster will set fire to bales of hay in a field, attracting the aliens. The others will lob dynamite into the field, hopefully destroying the aliens.
This plan fails. Foster is killed. Surrounded by the deadly aliens, the situation looks hopeless. Lightning is flashing, thunder is heard, and it begins to rain. The rain brings death to the aliens.Maron Films theatrical poster for the 1971 U.S double bill release ofIsland of the Burning Damned and Godzilla's Revenge.
|Christopher Lee||Dr. Godfrey Hanson|
|Patrick Allen||Jeff Callum|
|Peter Cushing||Dr. Vernon Stone|
|Sarah Lawson||Frankie Callum|
|Jane Merrow||Angela Roberts|
|William Lucas||Ken Stanley|
|Kenneth Cope||Tinker Mason|
|Percy Herbert||Gerald Foster|
|Thomas Heathcote||Bob Hayward|
|Anna Turner||Stella Hayward|
|Jack Bligh||Ben Siddle|
|Sydney Bromley||Old Tramp|
The film is based on a novel which had been adapted for television by ITV in 1960. It was intended to use the TV script with some embellishing, but investors required several changes and a number of writers had to work on it. Filming took place at Pinewood Studios.
This film's alternate title is Island of the Burning Doomed (US TV title) and Island of the Burning Damned (US release). Its companion piece is generally considered to be 1966's Island of Terror. In fact, the cave in which the homeless man is killed is the same cave set used for Ian Bellows' death at the beginning of Island of Terror.