The Doomwatch organization was created to investigate and stop the approaching environmental harmful effects of destructive pollution. Doomwatch sends Dr. Del Shaw to the fishing village island of Balfe where only one year ago an oil tanker sank off the island’s coast, leaving behind a devastated waterfront of oil waste that annihilated a chunk coastal life. Upon Dr. Shaw’s arrival, a strange sensation of unwelcomeness overwhelms him in the close knit fishing village. Shaw’s one day visit stretches to a longer stay when his curiosity about the village’s secrets gnaw at his conscious. Though what Shaw unearths is a direct result of man-made pollution, his discovery reveals a much more frightening mutation, transforming the quiet and isolated fishing village into a violent and turmoil lot of locals.
The 1972 feature film “Doomwatch” was born out of the brief lived and sorely lost British television series of the same name from 1970 to 1972. Surely a familiar shelf life and fleeting path of another placed on the back burner sci-fi great, a little series known as “Alien Nation,” in which did the exact reverse strategy and spawned from a hit movie starring James Caan and Mandy Patinkin. However, “Doomwatch” sought a more practical and realistic approach that attempted to warn the public of the dangers of monumental pollution and instill a self conserving fear into the residents of Earth. The scenario is also on a smaller scale from other similar plots such as an example of one would be the 1950s testing of the hydrogen bomb that had consequently overdeveloped and mutated an oversized, fire-breathing lizard you may know as “Godzilla.”
“Doomwatch” isn’t full-throttle horror and doesn’t quite even board the chills and thrills train. Instead, the Peter Sasdy directed film plays out more toward a science fiction mystery that lingers and hangs on the story’s catalytic moment. Prior to the “Doomwatch” film, Sasdy did partake in directing notable horror features for Hammer Films production such as “Taste the Blood of Dracula,” “Countess Dracula,” and “Hands of the Ripper,” but Sasdy made his start in television with over a decade amount of experience working on the smaller screen. Sasdy did have some help in amongst two writers who previously had long-running experience writing for the “Doomwatch” series. Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis saw fit to put their two cent input, but the film’s script was finalized and streamlined from the relatively unknown writer of that time Clive Exton who went on to pen “Red Sonja” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
I feel like Peter Sasdy safely cradled “Doomwatch” for the public with the content being alarmingly prophetic. For a director who exposed colorful amounts of blood and fantastical and villainous inhuman creatures to the world, Sasdy had disappointingly failed to shock audiences with potential world wide devastation. “Doomwatch” could be deemed more of a workplace educational video required in the protecting of the environment and to become ISO certified. Poor Ian Bannen tried his damnedest to sell his performance as the Doomwatch’s over-caring Dr. Del Shaw, but Bannen’s character, for the most part of the film, just yelled his case (or the village’s case rather) to an unsympathetic and ignorant written fishing village that, in my opinion, deserved to wither and die out due to their lack of wanting to be cured of digesting hormone chemicals and also from the years of inbreeding that would have eventually sprouted genetic mutation as well. The “Doomwatch” cast rounds out with leading lady Judy Geeson, Percy herbert, George Sanders, and Jean Trend.
UK located Screenbound distributes a newly restored DVD version that’s region free with a runtime of 85 minutes. However, the copy I received is a screener disc and can’t be necessarily critiqued for the audio and video quality. If I had to answer the three important story related questions about the film’s character, the answers would be the following: Entertaining? To a degree. Horrifying? Not really. Thought provoking about the welfare of Earth? Not as powerful as intended. The PG rated Peter Sasdy directed pre-apocalyptic call to arms film “Doomwatch” flashes no teeth for a long-haul fight against global defilement, even though the writers attempted to portray the disfiguring results of others’ mindless ignorance.