Welcome back to The Quotable Cushing, that column where we look at some of Peter Cushing’s most memorable lines in the movies. Why, you ask? Because I grew up watching Peter Cushing in the movies, and his performances in horror movies from the 1950s-1970s is a major reason why I write horror fiction today. I will never stop celebrating the career of Peter Cushing, mostly because I want to share his work with fans, old and new alike.
Today on The Quotable Cushing, we’re looking at a very entertaining science fiction horror movie from the 1960s, ISLAND OF TERROR, a gripping tale of cancer research gone wrong, as mutated creatures that devour human bone run loose on a small island, terrifying its inhabitants.
It’s a fun role for Peter Cushing, as he plays a scientist— of course he does. It’s a rare thing that he’s not playing a doctor or scientist— named Dr. Stanley who along with the younger and more dashing Dr. West (Edward Judd) tries to figure out a way to stop the creatures. It’s an enjoyable role because in this rather taut and suspensful thriller by director Terence Fisher, Cushing gets most of the good lines, many of them humorous, which is a good thing since this flick remains tense even today. In fact, uncharacteristically, Cushing’s Dr. Stanley seems to be cracking jokes at every turn.
Let’s check out some of these lines from ISLAND OF TERROR, screenplay by Edward Andrew Mann and Allan Ramsen.
A lot of the humor stems from Peter Cushing’s Dr. Stanley being very aware of how much danger he and everyone else on the island is in, and how frightening their situation is. For example, as he and Dr. West return to the building where they first discovered the creatures, specifically the basement of the building, Stanley quips:
DR. STANLEY: I’m not very keen on going down in that cellar again.
Another time, Dr. West’s girlfriend Toni (Carole Gray) protests to Gray about being left alone in the car, a sentiment which Cushing’s Stanley agrees with. Let’s listen:
DR. WEST: Toni, you stay in the car.
TONI: I’m not staying here with all those things running around.
DR. STANLEY: Oh, let her come. I wouldn’t want to stay out here alone, either. It’s too damn creepy.
He possesses the same self-awareness in this scene with Drs. West and Landers:
DR. WEST: Brian, hold it! Come back to the car. If there is something in there, we’d better not get too close until we know what we’re up against.
DR. LANDERS: What do you think is in there?
DR. WEST: I don’t know. But let’s not take any unnecessary risks.
DR. STANLEY: Yes, especially with me!
Cushing’s Dr. Stanley also has a very playful side. Take this sequence, for example, where he gets in this zinger, having some fun with his friend Dr. West and West’s girlfriend Toni.
DR. STANLEY: What the devil did Napoleon do on that island to keep himself busy?
DR. WEST: He invented solitaire.
West’s girlfriend Toni then leans into West and says to him in sultry voice.
TONI: I’ve a much better game in mind.
To which Dr. Stanley quips with a sly grin:
DR. STANLEY: Can three play?
At another point, after being treated for his injuries, Stanley has this to say:
DR. STANLEY: One more transfusion and I’ll be a full-blooded Irishman.
And it’s some injury. ISLAND OF TERROR provides Peter Cushing with one of his more memorable on screen moments, when his Dr. Stanley is attacked by one of the creatures on the island, and to save him, his friend Dr. West has to chop off Stanley’s hand, since the bone-sucking creature has a tight grip on Stanley’s wrist. It’s the most jarring moment in the movie, and as always, Peter Cushing nails it, grimacing and yelping in extreme agony.
And since Dr. Stanley is such a playful fellow in this one, he has this to say to his buddy Dr. West after the amputation:
DR. STANLEY: Watch it boy, or I’ll sue you for malpractice.
ISLAND OF TERROR is one of the more thrilling horror science fiction movies from the 1960s, a must-see for Peter Cushing fans. In addition to the memorable lines shared here, there are many more exciting moments in the film.
So, that’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this look at Peter Cushing’s memorable lines in ISLAND OF TERROR. Join me again next time for another installment of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING where we’ll look at other fine quotes from a Peter Cushing movie.
Thanks for reading!