This Hammer production presented a story of Japanese cruelty to Allied prisoners of war during World War II.
While it was based on a true incident, the slick, shock-treatment technique that made a success of The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) was no way to recall the floggings, the executions, and the incredible refinements of torture practised by the Japanese.
The critics accused director Val Guest – and Anthony Hinds and James Carreras of Hammer – of staging a “Roman circus” to exploit the WWII atrocities for their entertainment value.
André Morell plays a limping, battle-scarred colonel in charge of several hundred Allied prisoners on a Japanese-held island in the Malay Peninsula. After three years in the cage, he still carries on a private war with his captors.
Sick and starved, he drills his ragged company into shape. “They’ve got nothing left but discipline,” he declares. “Take that away and they’ll fall apart.”
Morell has a fearful responsibility. By means of a concealed radio, he learns that the war is over but he dares not reveal the news. The Commandant of the island (Ronald Radd) has threatened to massacre every prisoner if Japan is defeated.
The Japanese radio has been sabotaged by Morell’s men and the guards still strut about in murderous ignorance, but whether the Allies will arrive before the news of the surrender is a question of life and sudden death.
Tormented by worry about his wife and child – who are prisoners in an adjoining camp – the former governor of the island (Walter Fitzgerald) wants to make a deal with the Commandant. “Let’s throw ourselves on his mercy,” he pleads.
“We’ve seen three years of his mercy,” retorts Morell, nodding towards the overcrowded camp graveyard.
When an American airman (Phil Brown) bales out over the island, Morell expects his secret to be given away. But Brown is warned in time. Flogged and beaten, he does not reveal that the war has ended.
Morell orders the prisoners to arm themselves for a last battle, and with homemade knives, clubs, and six rusty grenades, they launch their attack.
The Japanese are defeated and the war on Blood Island is over.
Well written and well-acted – especially by André Morell and Michael Goodliffe as a peace-loving priest – The Camp on Blood Island is a skillfully constructed film, but the ingredients – which include a flogging, an execution, and a sexy camp trollop – make the film look like a well-thumbed horror comic.
Peter Forbes-Robertson (as Peter Wayn)
Barbara Yu Ling (as Barbara Lee)