What do you suppose would happen if the temperature outside got to be over 100º Fahrenheit (37.78º Celsius)? People would go mad, become deliriously aggressive, paralysingly sedate, or find themselves at the mercy of frightening, uncontrollable sexual urges. That's the opinion of both Dracula and Professor Van Helsing in 1967's Night of the Big Heat
--or characters played by Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, anyway, a scientist and country doctor here, respectively. This British horror film, which is not
a Hammer film despite being directed by Terence Fisher and starring Lee and Cushing, is about an island off the coast of England where one winter it starts to get really hot and no-one knows why. It's an enjoyable film though mostly for reasons its makers did not intend.
Despite Christopher Lee getting top billing, most of the movie focuses on a writer and inn owner played by Patrick Allen and the love triangle consisting of him, his boring wife (Sarah Lawson), and his ultra sexy new secretary, Angela (Jane Merrow). Can you tell which is which?
Jeff's wife is wearing maybe the ugliest dress I've ever seen. She doesn't seem to sweat as much as Angela. Too respectable maybe.
I guess if Tennessee Williams wrote a science fiction film, this would be like the cheap knock-off that came out two years later. Allen's character, Jeff, loves his wife and knows he shouldn't make out with Angela but she's just so hot and it's just so hot--outside!
Allen and Lawson were married in real life though this didn't make any visible difference in the performances, the two don't really have many scenes together. Angela comes off like a campy villain whose goal is to ruin everything with her kisses.
Meanwhile, the quiet Dr. Hanson (Lee), who's staying at the inn, is alarmed by the unseasonable heat. Eventually he shares his worries with Jeff and Dr. Stone (Cushing). But there's already plenty cause for alarm as the heat has already almost gotten a guy run over by a car and apparently caused another guy to try assaulting Angela.
The heat gets all the way up to 108º Fahrenheit eventually, only four degrees away from what I experienced last week except without the rain. I didn't think to attribute it to an alien invasion but let's just say it's fortunate Dr. Hanson does.
Some nice menace is derived from a mostly faceless terror in this movie, Lee and Cushing of course helping a great deal with their performances. But while the love triangle made me laugh several times, it diminishes the film a bit.