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.
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.
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.
Born Dec. 25th, 1934 – Died Oct. 3rd, 1997
John Ashley was one of the up and coming teenage stars of those popular beach movies in the ’50s and ’60s, which he made quite a few of. But once he moved to the Philippines, he was responsible for giving us cult horror fans a lot of hours of enjoyment with the films that he was involved with, such as the Blood Island trilogy: Brides of Blood (1968), Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968), Beast of Blood (1971).
He later would become a successful TV producer for series like The A-Team and Walker, Texas Ranger.
But besides all the entertaining films that he made, this quote is one of the reasons why we admire him so much:
“This is a terrible thing to admit, but maybe the key to my success with exploitation films is that I always like those movies, and I never had any real reason to turn them down. I just enjoyed doing them.”