Poison Popcorn – Doomwatch

Doomwatch Header

Imagine if Call of Cthulu: Dark Corners of the Earth was a film that had all of the fun, violent bits ripped out, a nosey, British tit shoehorned in as the protagonist and the fish people were rubber faced locals with less than half a brain between them. Now slap on a PSA about the dangers of pollution and brainstorm the dullest trailer imaginable and the result is Doomwatch.

DOOMWATCH (1972)
Genre: Mystery/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller  
Director: Peter Sasdy         
Rated: PG
Buy the DVD

Derived from the 70s TV series of the same name but without the added bonus of a couple of Doctor Who writers on staff, the basic premise is that a collective of government sanctioned scientists have taken it upon themselves to police any activity that might result in an ecological disaster such as an enraged Kaiju rising from the depths of Blackpool Beach and smashing the shit out of all of the rides he’s too portly to go on.

Doomwatch

The film opens with a suspicious looking group of quintessentially English locals lurching through a forest, sobbing over the corpse of a young girl with the occasional fearful backward glance just so we’re all aware that there’s some funny business afoot. Cut to the headquarters of Doomwatch where we witness Dr. Del Shaw being shipped off to the very same island to investigate the fallout of an oil spill in the surrounding waters only 12 months before. Good luck keeping that cadaver under wraps now that Nosey McTittington is en route.

"Christ, it's like a race horse!"
“Christ, it’s like a race horse!”

What was initially a 24 hour trip rounding up a couple of standard samples soon stretches into limitless infinity when Del is met with brusque brush-offs, twitching curtains, mistrustful glares and erratic behaviour, but as that’s par for the course in any small village across this fair land, we’ll go ahead and assume the cagey blonde he’s clearly hot for might have had something to do with his decision as well.

"Maybe if I don't look at him, he'll bugger off"
“Maybe if I don’t look at him, he’ll bugger off”

After some more determined snooping around, Dr. Shaw finally stumbles across the dead body from earlier following a dramatic encounter with some wild dogs that are never tracked down or seen again, but when he heads back with the begrudging officer who seemingly polices the entire island on his own without ever leaving the confines of the station, it’s disappeared. He reacts as any well-educated, PhD holding gentlemen would, and has a full-on tantrum before stomping off to the blonde’s schoolroom and demanding she spills the beans on just what in the bloody hell is going on, from one outsider to another. She hints that the islanders have got enough problems to deal with and tells him to sod off.

Give me strength

How mysterious. But I guess he’ll never find out unless by some stroke of luck, he stumbled upon two people having a conversation that while still being vague on the exact details, nevertheless addressed the main crux of their secret, which of course, is exactly what happens next. The reverend is talking with Aunt Beru shortly before she leaves for Tatooine presumably, and while she implores him to share the Islanders’ plight with Del because they’re in dire need of medial advice, he pulls out the old God’s will card, shuts down the conversation, and that’s her told.

"I'm not saying it's aliens, but it's alie- I mean God."
“I’m not saying it’s aliens, but it’s alie- I mean God.”

Ramping up his snoop meter to mark 3, Del takes a tour of the surrounding waters and learns about the delicious, mammoth mutant fish that the Islanders have been living on and the existence of an MoD dumping ground. Cue the next shot where he’s back in London at Doomwatch HQ running tests on the fish he’s hauled back with him. Upon discovering that they’re stuffed to the gills with a genetically modified pituitary growth hormone, Dr. Shaw heads off to interrogate some doddering old coot at the Navy who confirms that nothing remotely dangerous was dumped – just some radioactive waste – so not to worry old boy, what what! Well thank fuck for that. I’m sure we’re all hugely relieved.

"It was only a couple hundred drums of radioactive waste, old chap!"
“It was only a couple hundred drums of radioactive waste, old chap!”

Back at Doomwatch headquarters – paragon of all things ethical and good in this world – they’re running some tests on animals, and find that dogs that have been given some of the fish extract also really hate Del. Sensing a pattern, Del concludes that observations he casually dismissed as a result of centuries of inbreeding on the Island must be caused by the people on Balfe ingesting the hormone. And that’s worse than hundreds of years of incest. WAT?

lab dogs

They track down another company that has taken to dumping in the same waters and lo and behold, they’re to blame. Del now faces his toughest assignment yet – to return to Balfe, tell the Islanders the truth about what’s happening to them and get them medical assistance. And he’s not happy about it, what with the children of the corn throwing their lot in with the rest of the Islanders.

children of the corn

Will Del be able to persuade the Islanders to seek treatment on the mainland? Will they finish him off before he calls down the full force of a team of medical professionals? Will he perpetually have a face like a smacked arse? Find out in Doomwatch.

one of us

Poster_for_film_'Doomwatch'_(1972) We dare you to buy Doomwatch on DVD!

Author Gamer Girl is a podcast co-host on FrontTowardsGamer Radio  and has churned out a couple of guides at gamesradar. It is highly recommended you follow her on Twitter or check out her blog at soapywarpig.com.

Previously in Poison Popcorn: Nine Deaths of the Ninja. See previous Poison Popcorns right  fucking here!

 

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