Archive for June 4, 2021

Vanilla from Manila

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on June 4, 2021 by dcairns

Having enjoyed the peculiar HANDS OF A STRANGER, I took a look at Newt Arnold’s second directing credit (his third, BLOODSPORT, a Jean-Claude Van Damme kicky-thumpy thing, doesn’t seem particularly alluring). This is BLOOD THIRST, shot in the Philippines in 1965 but unreleased until 1971. It’s kind of remarkable that it got released THEN, since it’s in b&w (and has a nice, atmospheric noir look, aided by sultry library jazz music) and since the exploitation elements are pretty thin — there’s an exotic dancer, but she remains stubbornly dressed, and the haemoglobin flows in mere occasional trickles.

Still, it’s sleazy! Movie sleaze is an attitude, it does not depend on nipples or guts. It’s there in the way Philippines cinema regular Vic Diaz, playing a cop, grins inappropriately while standing by a dangling corpse. It’s especially there in the way his pal, a “sex crimes expert” from New York, played by lisping Robert Winston, puts the moves on Diaz’s sister. Though he might technically pass as handsome, Winston manages to seem creepy, arrogant and thoroughly repulsive. Mainly it’s not his fault, it’s the script’s.

This is credited to the improbable N.I.P. Dennis — who seems to be Newt Arnold in disguise — his middle name was Dennis. N.I.P. has no other credits.

Some point to the film’s plot — a vampiric cult operating out of a strip joint — as a probably influence on FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. I really disliked FROM DUSK TILL DAWN but it has a propulsive energy, and the genre-switch is, I guess, bold. I just never forgave it from changing from a moderately interesting crime drama to a silly vampire movie. If you swap genres in mid-stream, you ought really to maintain some tone and some quality. BLOOD THIRST isn’t energetic — even at 73 minutes its somewhat sluggish, it has a Scooby Doo one-track plot with no red or even grey herrings, and the Aztec death cult doesn’t really make sense. What I mainly wanted to know was, Why is there a monster with a head like a wad of chewed gum? I quite like him, but what’s his deal? And the movie doesn’t tell us.

It also doesn’t explain why the “golden goddess” from Peru (Yvonne Nielson), kept immortally young by blood infusions and certain rare herbs, is working as a stripper. The movie seems to be assuming that’s what an immortally young Peruvian golden goddess would choose to do with her limitless time.

The only character with any competence in the film is the one-legged detective, Eddie Infante. And he’s not amazingly competent, except by contrast with everyone else.

He’s the guy on the right here. I’m just going to leave you to wonder about the guy on his right, lower down. There is an explanation, but I doubt it would satisfy you.