Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968)
Directed by Eddie Romero & Gerardo de Leon
Starring John Ashley, Angelique Pettyjohn, Ronald Remy, Alicia Alonzo, Alfonso Carvahal, Ronald Valdez, Tony Edmunds, Bruno Punzalan
Made in 1969, this was the quick follow up to Hemisphere’s Brides of Blood, and I don’t think they could have come up with a better exploitation style title! According to Sam Sherman, who worked for Hemisphere, this was a “gimmick picture from the word go”, which you can see right away when a prologue starts and you can take the “Oath of the Green Blood”. During its run at the drive-ins, little packets of green gel-like substances were passed out so the audience could participate in the Oath. Good old fashion ballyhoo that has nothing to do with the actual film, but who cares. What I wouldn’t give for one of those little packets.
While it might not be a sequel to Brides, it does feature the famous Blood Island and a different monster called the natives call the Evil One. But those are the only connections, besides the star John Ashley. The film does waste time getting started since right from the beginning, we see a young female native, completely naked, running through the jungle, being chased by some strange looking creature, only to be brutally murdered a few minutes later. We later learn that this is the dreaded chlorophyll monster that has been created by our titular doctor. Covered in green fuzzy flesh, with razor sharp claws and teeth, he doesn’t just kill his victims, but rips them open and tears them apart, which we get to see the results of his attacks several times throughout the movie, which should make the gorehounds out there very happy.
In this outing, Ashley plays Dr. Bill Foster who is going to the island to investigate a report of some strange happenings on the island, including a monster with green blood. Also going to the island is Carlos (Ronald Valdez) who hopes to bring his mother home since his father died there a few months ago. The female lead here is Angelique Pettyjohn, who plays Sheila Willard, who is going to the island to find her father who she hasn’t seen since she was twelve. Pettyjohn’s career previously consisted of appearing in an Elvis film, along with some TV appearances, one of which was in an episode of Star Trek, where she played a green-haired gladiator. Her career never took off after that and eventually appeared in a couple of adult films under the name Heaven St. Cloud, all the while battling drug and alcohol abuse. She eventually got herself cleaned up and was a regular at Star Trek convention circuit before passing away at the age of 48 due to cancer.
Once they arrive on the island, they don’t find things as they hoped. Sheila’s father is a drunk and Carlos’ mother is working with the strange Dr. Lorca and doesn’t want to leave the island. The strange doctor, with his cane and tinted sunglasses, is played wonderfully by Ronald Remy. Remy is one of the highlights of the film for me, playing the title character with such gusto, ranking him up there as one of the screen’s best mad scientists. Remy is no stranger to horror films, since back in 1964, he appeared in The Blood Drinkers, as the bald vampire Dr. Marco. But as Dr. Lorca, he is working on the secret to immortality, using the locals as guinea pigs for his experiments. Giving us a subdued but superb performance as the doctor who trying to discover eternal life and as he tells Ashley, he “will not give up the work of a life time simply just because you think I’m mad.” A native girl speaks of Dr. Lorca, saying “the doctor is not afraid of death. Death is on his payroll.” Yes, the dialogue is that amazing.
Always trying to top their last film, the film does have a little bit more blood, guts and nudity in here, including some from Pettyjohn while she’s making out with Ashley. Did I mention why Ashley probably liked making films over in the Philippines? Some of the victims have their guts hanging out or sprawled out on the floor. Granted, all these are animal intestines, but at least they look real.
The movie does have a couple of downfalls that might put off a few viewers. One of them, and the most common complaint, is the mega-zoom that is used every time the monster is about to strike. We’re not talking about a speed zoom of the likes of Jess Franco, but instead the camera zooming in and out rapidly, over and over again the whole time the creature is around. While I do find it interesting and a very intriguing technique, trying to give it some style and come up with something different, I will concede that it can be a bit too much at times and gets old pretty quickly. But I still get a kick out of it. Even Sherman mentions on the commentary, he thought it was a neat idea and does hide a little bit of the poor makeup.
The other part is when some real animals are sacrificed during a native ritual. These are obviously real animals being killed and dwelled upon too long. Even Sherman mentions on the audio commentary that should not have been done, or could be done today. But that was a different time and place. But in my opinion, that is only part of this movie that could be keep one from watching it.
But if you can get past those parts, I think you will enjoy your stay on Blood Island, and will probably want to stay even longer.