I’m finally getting round to reviewing the latest Hammer boxset from Powerhouse Films, yes I know it came out at the end of July but I’ve been caught up on other things. Anyway it’s time to right that wrong so I reviewing all four films from the Hammer Volume 3 – Blood And Terror, starting with WWII war film The Camp on Blood Island directed by Val Guest. So without further ado here’s my The Camp on Blood Island (1958) Blu-ray Review.
- The Camp on Blood Island (1958) (Part of the Hammer Volume 3 Boxset)
- Genre: War Film
- Directed by Val Guest
- Running Time: 81 Mins
- UK Rating 15
- Discs: 1
- Released By Powerhouse Films aka Indicator
- Blu-ray Released: 30 July 2018
With the war in the Pacific drawing to a close the nasty Japanese commandant of Blood Island continues to dish out brutal punishments to the prisoners of war. Furthermore he threatens British Colonel Lambert (André Morell) that should the Japanese lose the war he will burn down the camps along with everyone in them. One of these camps houses the women and children captured during the Japanese invasions.
Now Colonel Lambert fights to keep the Japanese radio from functioning but what is it he is so eager to prevent the Japanese from learning?
You may well have just worked that one out!
Style / Direction
The film is directed by Val Guest with the cinematography handled by Jack Asher. There is little doubt in my mind that Val Guest delivers an extremely powerful and well made film that deals with the ugly side of war.
Music / Audio Effects
The music is composed by Gerard Schurmann
Acting / Characters
To be fair the acting all-round is particularly good which is something needed for this type of film. With many characters involved in what is essentially a story driven drama.
André Morell in particular provides the strong leadership needed to keep the POWs going whilst also knowing the consequences if the Japanese learn the truth of their situation. He does this exceptionally well but then I regard him as a terrific actor and would expect nothing less from him.
Hammer legend Barbara Shelley plays Kate Keiller a woman regarded as being in charge of the women’s camp and one tasked with trying to save lives along with documenting any deaths. Like Morell she delivers a strong performance that helps to bring the horrors of their predicament to life.
- André Morell as Col. Lambert
- Carl Möhner as Piet van Elst
- Edward Underdown as Major Dawes
- Barbara Shelley as Kate Keiller
- Walter Fitzgerald as Cyril Beattie
- Phil Brown as Lt. Commander Peter Bellamy
- Michael Goodliffe as Father Paul Anjou
- Michael Gwynn as Tom Shields
- Ronald Radd as Colonel Yamamitsu, Camp Commandant
- Marne Maitland as Captain Sakamura
- Richard Wordsworth as Dr. Robert Keiller
- Mary Merrall as Helen Beattie
- Wolfe Morris as Interpreter
- Michael Ripper as Japanese Driver
- Edwin Richfield as Sergeant-Major
- Geoffrey Bayldon as Foster
- Lee Montague as Japanese Officer
Conclusion – The Camp on Blood Island Film Review
Hammer will forever be remembered for its horror films yet before that perception took hold it produced some exceptional dramas and thrillers that for the most part had been forgotten. Thanks to these Powerhouse Films boxsets volumes two and three are giving people the opportunity to take a look at some powerful and well told stories such as The Camp on Blood Island.
The Camp on Blood Island is indeed a very well made film with credit going to director Val Guest for both filmmaking and casting of the main characters. Hammer regularly managed to recruit top talent for many of their offerings and this film is no different with André Morell taking the lead here.
One decision by director Val Guest enforces the perception that all the Japanese were nothing more that evil and sadistic comes as a result of choosing not to either have them speak in English or provide subtitles. Looking at it now this certainly appears to be a massive mistake. However putting yourself into the shoes of the people of the time whom had just endured the brutality of many of the Japanese POW camps this is actually an understandable approach. Another curious choice is to paint the events at Blood Island to be a true story when in reality whilst the individual shocking events may well be true the island and camp are as far as I’m aware purely fictional.
Hammer Favourite / Strange Casting Choices
For many Hammer fans the inclusion of Michael Ripper is always nice to see. However his appearance on Blood Island does seem to be a strange casting decision as he plays a Japanese soldier driving a vehicle. People watching the film for the first time in the modern era will no doubt be offended at the decision not to cast a Japanese actor in the role. After-all we do life in these rather ridiculous political correct times where people are easily offended often at older films failing to recognise that this is how things occurred in a different era when attitudes were somewhat different to what we would expect today.
To close out I would say The Camp on Blood Island is another Hammer film that is well worth a look, it’s a very powerful and at times shocking piece of filmmaking and one that’s probably somewhat underrated. I would also say once you have watched this film you should take a look at Yesterday’s Enemy (1959) from the same director which seems to address many of the issues raised in this film.
The Camp On Blood Island is yet another excellent Blu-ray release from Powerhouse Films.
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The Camp on Blood Island Blu-ray Review
On the whole the picture quality is excellent with just an odd few white speckles mainly during the opening titles. Filmed in black and white the image is sharp and clear making viewing this 1958 war film a far better experience from any other version released to date.
So what of the extras? Powerhouse have delivered yet another excellent set with the must see feature being the 29 minute documentary “The Brutal Truth: Inside The Camp on Blood Island” that includes insight from the likes of Hammer experts Jonathan Ribgy and Alan Barnes. They cover many of the controversial choices made that I have already touched upon in this review plus a few I things I didn’t.
Overall I’d have to conclude by saying this is another excellent Blu-ray release from Powerhouse Films.
- Audio Commentary with Barbara Shelley
- The Brutal Truth: Inside “The Camp on Blood Island” (29 mins)
- Hammer’s Women: Mary Merrall (11 mins)
- From Light to Dark (18 mins)
- Return to Blood Island (4 mins)
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Iamge Gallery
- Reversible Sleeve
- 40 Page Booklet
On to my movie rating for The Camp on Blood Island (1958)
- Movie Rating: WELL WORTH WATCHING
- Blu-ray Picture: EXCELLENT
- Extras: EXCELLENT
The Camp on Blood Island (1958) is available now on Blu-ray.
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The Camp on Blood Island (1958) Blu-ray Review
Director(s): Val Guest
Actor(s): André Morell, Carl Möhner, Edward Underdown, Barbara Shelley, Walter Fitzgerald, Phil Brown, Ronald Radd
- Movie Rating
- Blu-ray Picture Rating
A very powerful and at times shocking piece of filmmaking.