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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Night of the Big Heat aka 'Island of the Burning Damned' [Blu-ray]

 

(Terence Fisher, 1967)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Planet Film Productions

Video: Odeon Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:30:28.800

Disc Size: 24,876,786,974 bytes

Feature Size: 20,254,276,032 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

Chapters: 19

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: July 28th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080i / 25 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Commentary:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• Commentary by Marcus Hearn and Christopher Lee, Screenwriter Pip and Jane Baker

Christopher Lee interview (19:21)
Stills Gallery (2:17)
 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: A freak heat wave sends the temperatures soaring on a remote island. Dr Stone (Peter Cushing) and Callum (Patrick Allen) try to uncover the mysterious reason for the sudden change in climate. But the arrival of Callum's former mistress (Jane Merrow) forces the atmosphere to boiling point and it falls to Godfrey Hanson (Christopher Lee) to discover that the rising heat is the start of an invasion of merciless aliens...

 

 

The Film:

Hammer mainstay Terence Fisher made three movies for the cheapjack Planet outfit of which this (from a sci-fi novel by John Lymington) was the last. It's mighty hot for winter on the small island of Fara where scientist Lee has rigged up a lab in the security of the White Swan hotel. He believes the heat's caused by energy starved aliens. Cushing, the local doctor, is frazzled to death. Dynamite proves ineffective against the invaders, but as all seems lost a saving thunderstorm breaks.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Whilst the rest of Britain freezes in deepest winter, the northern island of Fara bakes in usually hot weather. The crew at the Met station have no idea what is causing this heat but when people start to hear strange noises and are found scorched to death, the locals begin to suspect something. A scientist on the island studying this phenomenon believes that the island is being used a beachhead for an invasion by aliens who need high temperatures to survive.

Terence Fisher was one of the core figures at the centre of Hammer Horror’s emergence as the top horror-making company in the late 50s and early 60s but left the studio during the 60s to go off and make a trilogy of sci-fi films for another studio (the others being The Earth Dies Screaming and Island of Terror, ironically both are two of my favourite films). The Night of the Big Heat is the third film he made and is just as strong as the other films, at least until the aliens turn up which ironically again, was the problem of the other two films.

Excerpt from Popcorn Pictures located HER

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Night of the Big Heat gets an imperfect transfer to Blu-ray from Odeon Entertainment in the UK. It is single-layered with a supportive bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature, but unfortunately it is 1080i running in PAL speed (from TV Master) and the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio has been bastardized to 1.78. It has some inconsistency with the opening (around the title sequence), appearing weaker but smoothes-out and remains fairly flat throughout although colors are bright and appealing. Generally the visuals are reasonably watchable with some decent detail and contrast - but nothing dynamic.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio comes in a linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 1536 kbps. The Alien sounds are quite loud (intentionally) and carry some weight in lossless. The score is by Malcolm Lockyer (Bang Bang, You're Dead, Ten Little Indians) and adds some further atmosphere. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE - playable on Blu-ray players worldwide.

 

Extras :

A big bonus to the supplements is the addition of a commentary by Marcus Hearn and Christopher Lee, and screenwriters Pip and Jane Baker - previously available on the 2004 UK DVD. It's pretty good - with Lee providing a lighter air and Hearn's intelligent probing. There is also a 20-minute Sir Christopher Lee interview where he is basically talking about his career. There is also a, superfluous, 'Stills Gallery'.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Night of the Big Heat isn't Hammer but, despite the middling critical reaction, I really enjoyed it. The atmosphere of the Island and Pub, support from Cushing and Lee, with Fischer pulling the story together, certainly worked for this reviewer.  As a 'creature-feature', admittedly, it is fairly weak and the attempted-rape scene seemed an unnecessary addition to the narrative. There are hints of The Day the Earth Caught Fire. The Odeon Entertainment Blu-ray is no champion but if this genre of film suits you, you will also appreciate the commentary. A few negatives, a few positives - overall; a shade pricey for what is offered.  

Gary Tooze

September 20th, 2014


 

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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