Born in 1932
If you have watched any movies from the Philippines, especially in the exploitation genre, then you’ve most likely seen Vic Diaz’s face somewhere. He has been a staple of the Philippine film industry since the late ’50s and had continued to work quite a bit through the ’90s. Whether he was just a bit player or given a bigger role, he was always recognizable and memorable.
He made 12 movies alone with director Eddie Romero, titles like Beast of the Yellow Night (1971), Black Mama, White Mama (1973) with Pam Grier, Beyond Atlantis and Savage Sisters (1974), both with Sid Haig and John Ashley. Not to mention other cult titles like Blood Thirst (1971), The Big Bird Cage (1972) which was directed by Jack Hill, Superbeast (1972), Daughter of Satan (1972), co-starring Tom Selleck, Vampire Hookers (1978), and many other delightful titles.
So the next time you’re watching a movie from the Philippines, keep your eye out for our pudgy little friend, Mr. Diaz. I’m pretty sure he will be in there somewhere.
I was just commenting the other day that either I have missed them or the number of our genre stars that we’ve been losing has been much lower than previous years. And then we lose Stelvio Cipriani last week, and now there are two more.
I’ve been a huge fan of the horror films made in the Philippines, especially the Blood Island films. So I was thrilled when I first heard mention that Severin was going to be releasing these films on Blu-ray. Even more so when I saw the kind of promo stuff they are making available. Granted, the limited edition Dr. Lorca’s Head Bundle is already sold out (Also note…that’s not Dr. Lorca’s Head…just saying), which was a major bummer. But the stuff in the Blood Oath Bundle is pretty damn cool too. Got to give Severin major props for the stuff they come up with. From the Anthropophagus Plush figure, or the beach ball from The Horror of Party Beach, to even the little rubber ball from The Changeling, they are killing it when it comes to new promo items.
So what is in this box set?
The Twilight People (1972)
Directed by Eddie Romero
Starring John Ashley, Pat Woodell, Jan Merlin, Charles Macaulay, Pam Grier, Ken Metcalfe, Tony Gosalvez, Kim Ramos, Mona Morena, Eddie Garcia,
If you’re a fan of Filipino cinema, then you really don’t need to read any further other than to know that this movie came from Eddie Romero and John Ashley. Those two names alone would get any fan of the Blood Island movies to sit down with this one with open arms. If you’re not familiar with the plethora of titles to come from this little Southeast Asian country, and are a fan of cult cinema, then you now have a chance to experience a whole new sense of wonder when you take a cinematic journey there.
Trying to find any information on this actor from the Philippines is damn difficult. But since his face was a staple of movies in the ’60s and ’70s that were filmed there, I thought a little attention needed to put in his direction. If you’ve seen any of the famous Blood Island Trilogy, Brides of Blood (1968), Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968), and Beast of Blood (1971), then you’ve seen Punzalan. He is usually cast as a bad guy, usually a thug of whoever is in charge. He had a very distinct face that always made him easy to pic out in the casts. He worked many times with director Eddie Romero, as well as with actors Sid Haig and Vic Diaz (another staple of Pilipino movies).
While not much is known about this actor, we feel that because of his contributions to the horror genre, we think that people should at least know who he is. So when they see that same face again, they can say “Hey…that’s Bruno Punzalan!”, impressing everyone around them. Not to mention, keeping this actor’s memory alive.
He also appeared with Ingrid Pitt in The Omegans (1968), as well as Blood Thirst (1971), Black Mama, White Mama (1973), and Savage Sisters (1973).
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.”
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.
Directed by Eddie Romero & Gerardo DeLeon
Starring John Ashley, Kent Taylor, Beverly Hills (Beverly Powers), Eva Darren, Mario Montenegro
When thinking of a country churning out films, one doesn’t usually think of the Philippines. But they had been making movies there since the beginning of cinema itself. In the ’30s, there were five major studios running there. And of course, making horror films was something they dabbled in, just like here in the states.