Screamers (1979)

As a UK script consultant, UK Script editor  and script writer for hire I’m just finishing up work (and doing more reshoots) on my low (very low) budget feature film Markham.

Markham is a watery, Lovercraftian rubber reality horror film.  I have this thing to do with water and horror, the English coast and a looming sense of dread. With this in mind I watched Screamers (1979) recently, and I must say I was massively surprised by how much I enjoyed it (or loved it even)

The film has gone by various titles and was at one point picked up by Roger Corman, who may have added the prologue or may have even added footage for the US market which isn’t seen here (there is some confusion to do with various versions). One of its alternative titles is ‘Island of the Fishmen’ – which would make a hell of a lot more sense than ‘Screamers’

I think the main surprise was how well made this film was, and how stylishly shot it is.  In a way, it also remained me of Lucio Fulci’s Zombie Flesh Eaters (or Zombi 2).  It’s got an island with a mad doctor, some stylish gore and suspense and a pretty lead in Barbara Bach.  It has elements of the Island of Dr. Moreau (with a few more surprises up its sleeve than well told tale).

Looking around the World Wide Web I can see that the film has a bit of a cult following and I’ve noted that director Sergio Martino has turned out some well respect Italian Exploitation films, as well as a TV movie called ‘The Fishermen and Their Queen’, which sounds good as well, and is apparently a kind of sequel to this film.

So what has the film to offer? A few shocks, some great squelchy gore FX and mental performances including a camp cameo from Joseph Cotton (who was on his slumming period in Italy).   There are some dodgy underwater miniature effects that wouldn’t be out of place on a Gerry Anderson production (and to me that is one of the things worth recommending).

All in all, the film is great fun, but I kept half expecting Doug McClure to turn up.

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire, UK Script editor  and script doctor for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on or hire him on Peopleperhour

His directorial debut, the rubber reality horror thriller Markham will be released in 2020.