Sunday, March 8, 2009

Beast Of Blood (1970)

1970 – Beast Of Blood (Hemisphere Pictures/Independent International Pictures Corp)

[also known as Beast Of The Dead (US TV), Blood Devils (UK), Horrors Of Blood Island, Return To The Horrors Of Blood Island]

Director/Screenplay/Producer Eddie Romero Executive Producer Kane W. Lynn Story Beverly Miller Music Tito Arevalo Cinematography Justo Paulino Editor Ben Barcelon Production Design Ben Otico

Cast John Ashley (Dr Bill Foster), Celeste Yarnall (Myra Russell), Eddie Garcia (Dr Lorca), Liza Belmonte (Laida), Alfonso Carvajal (Ramu, tribe leader), Bruno Punzalan (Razak, lead henchman), Angel Buenaventura, Beverly Miller (The Captain), Johnny Long

Review by Andrew Leavold

Beast Of Blood, an indirect followup to the 1968 Brides Of Blood and direct sequel Mad Doctor Of Blood Island (1969), reunites Hemisphere Pictures producer Kane Lynn, Filipino director Eddie Romero, and the velvet Elvis Presley of drive-in sleaze John Ashley for a third and last outing to Blood Island. Taking up the action on the boat where Mad Doctor... left off, the hideous chlorophyll experiment of Dr Lorca is loose and destroys the ship; miraculously both Dr Foster (John Ashley) and the creature survive, and Ashley heads back to Blood Island with suspicious female reporter Myra Russell (Celeste Yarnall) in tow to uncover its secrets - and secretions - once and for all.

Of course it doesn’t take Ashley long to unearth Dr Lorca. Now played by Eddie Romero’s favourite bad guy Eddie Garcia (Curse Of The Vampires, Beast Of The Yellow Night) and crippled, badly scarred, and left with one eye after his experience as the Mad Doctor Of Blood Island, Lorca is continuing his ghastly experiments in green blood-soaked transplants in a secluded underground lair. More like a Bond villain than a scientist, he instructs his goons to kidnap the reporter then dresses her in a bikini, trades one choice amoral line of dialogue after the other with Sean Connery substitute Ashley (“I’m madder than EVER!”), before watching a cut-rate rescue mission by Ashley’s jungle raiders dissolve his lair in one explosion after another. All that’s missing is a tank full of angry piranhas, and you have an evil sanctuary Blofeldt would be proud of.

Luckily the chintzy would-be 007 touches don’t overshadow the film’s raison d’etre. Always considerate of the wants - no, NEEDS - of its drive-in audience, Beast Of Blood ups the ante on the previous Blood Island epics by offering more sleaze, more cheese and much more over-the-top gushing of the red red vino, particularly during the brutally realistic surgery sequences. Of particular note is Lorca’s creature, a vast improvement on the previous two creatures of Blood Island - this time it looks like its bones are on the outside, and its head spends much of its time separated from its body - a head, by the way, which taunts Lorca from its saucer full of chlorophyll with lipless teeth and perfect diction. Have you tried saying the word “mammoth” without lips? This creature is AMAZING, and could be the spearhead of a future ventriloquist revival.

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