Movie Review: Beast of Blood

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Beast of Blood (1970)
Directed by Eddie Romero
Starring John Ashley, Celeste Yarnall, Eddie Garcia, Lisa Belmonte, Bruno Punzalan, Beverly Miller

This is the last of the famous Blood Island trilogy and is a direct sequel to Mad Doctor of Blood Island, starting right where the last one left off. While on the boat leaving the island, it seems that our favorite chlorophyll-blooded monster had stowed away. It comes out and starts attacking the crew members, causing a fire to start. The boat blows up, with star John Ashley being thrown overboard. After recovering in the hospital, Ashley decides to return to Blood Island to once again, find out what’s going on there. Joining him on this trip is a reporter, played by Celeste Yarnall, who is in search of a story about the infamous Blood Island after the events from the last film. She knows she’ll get it too, especially once they arrive back on the island and find out “the green men have returned.”

beast of blood poster.jpgAs a horror film, I feel this is the weakest of the three films. The monster is really only featured in the beginning of the film, but yet has the best makeup yet in the series. Then for the rest of the film creature has been decapitated, with its body strapped to table and it’s head setting on another table, with wires hooked up to both keeping both parts alive. We are hoping for them to be reunited, or at least hope to see something that is featured from the poster, but alas…not going to happen. All we get to see is the head constantly looking around at what is going on.

Shortly Ashley and Yarnall arrive on the island, she is kidnapped by some thugs, lead by Bruno Punzalan, who is still working for Dr. Lorca. So the rest of the story is pretty much Ashley and some friends tracking down the girl, finally coming up against the evil doctor. This time out, Lorca is played by Eddie Garcia, complete with a burned face and eye patch attributed from the end of the last film. His experiments has change since the we last left him, now trying to transplant a human head onto the body of the creature from the picture. Of course, it’s not too easy to get volunteers for something like this.

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Besides the awesome opening, the rest of the film is almost an action adventure type, or as Sam Sherman mentions on the audio commentary, a “James Bond-type of film”. Not sure where he gets that idea from, but it is definitely more action/adventure than the previous two films. We do get a bit of gore here and there, surgeries that the mad doctor is performing, that really looks like he’s carving into a real body. There are also some other gruesome deaths in the film, like someone falling in a pit full of punji sticks, as well as some knife stabbings and arrows that honestly look like some actually got hit! Makes you wonder just what they might have gotten away with over there. But the for the most part of the movie, we get to see the beautiful landscape of the area. Of course, we also have a couple of love scenes with Ashley and one of the locals, as well as with Yarnall. I mean, duh!

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While the film does have its moments, it seemed a little slow going for me.  Plus I really wanted that monster to be running around some more, tearing apart the locals!  Instead, we got thugs dragging Yarnall through the jungles with Ashley and company right on their tails.  I think maybe they were trying to go for a different type of movie here.  But with the success of the last two films, why tamper with it?

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Beverly Miller, the actor who played the ship’s captain in the beginning of the film, actually co-wrote Beast, as well as being one of the producers on Mad Doctor, and a couple of future Romero films, like The Twilight People and Beast of the Yellow Night. This is the only film of the trilogy that Romero directed by himself, instead of with Gerardo de Leon. After the break up with Hemisphere Pictures, Ashley stayed in the Philippines, making a few movies with Romero. They both were actually associate producers on Francis Ford Coppola’s war epic Apocalypse Now that was being filmed there. Later Ashley would return to the states to have a couple of big TV hits as a producer, such as The A-Team, before he passed away in 1997 of a heart attack.

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I couldn’t recommend enough checking out any and all of the Blood Island movies. I think they are unique, strange, bizarre, very different than your normal horror film, and just a lot of fun.

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