Archive for Mad Doctor of Blood Island

Green Fingers

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2009 by dcairns

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Arse! I watched a film by mistake.

MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND, directed by Eddie Romero and Gerardo DeLeon, was my third experience of Philippine horror, after the rather classy TERROR IS A MAN, lent dignity by Francis Lederer (Jodie Foster’s drama teacher) in the mad scientist role, and THE BLOOD DRINKERS, a truly psychotronic mad-fest glazed with brain-searing colour.

I was watching MAD DOC as part of my See Reptilicus and Die quest, based on a gruesome fanged and mangled creature, sprawled on a beach,  illustrated on page 207 of Denis Gifford’s A Pictorial History of Horror Movies. But the monster in this movie, the chlorophyll man (it should really be called MAD DOCTOR OF CHLOROPHYLL ISLAND) never winds up on a beach. What gives?

DSCF1828Tasha the Siamese brushes up on her Philippines horror cinema.

Reading Gifford’s caption more carefully, I discover that what he’s actually saying is… what he actually is saying. “Opposite below: the chlorophyll man, a Philippino favourite, was all washed up in Mad Doctor of Blood Island (Hemisphere 1970) — but struck again in Blood Devils.” Which, with the talk of being “washed up,” sounds like he’s attributing the still to MAD DOC, but then it sounds like he isn’t. So now I have to see BLOOD DEVILS.

Still, MAD DOC isn’t all bad. The bald vampire with bad skin and sunglasses from BLOOD DRINKERS, Ronald Remy, here plays mad/bad scientists Dr. Lorca (since Romero and DeLeon are so fond of using BLOOD in their titles, I’m surprised and disappointed that Dr. Lorca did not return in BLOOD WEDDING) who has attempted to cure cancer with chlorophyll from a unique dancing shrub (we eventually see a sample in his lab, wiggling its branches to and fro in an eternal vegetative froug). Filling out the cast are stray jawbone John Ashley and local floozy Alicia Alonzo, who “became a whore for love,” according to Dr. L.

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Alicia is the film’s most interesting and non-generic element. She proudly tells how Ashley’s father first took her sexually at the age of 14, and how she’s never experienced a man like him. And not for want of trying. It’s a rather startling, adult, distasteful yet at least unusual bit of characterisation. Unfortunately, Ashley’s father, officially dead, is still roaming the jungle as a half-plant maniac, ripping innocent naked girls into gaily-coloured heaps of flesh and entrails. The movie has a real fascination with gory abjection, much more explicit than the same year’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, and in colour, yet. The other point of comparison might be Herschell Gordon Lewis, with his BLOOD FEAST etc, but Romero and DeLeon (the latter apparently still working at 85) have made a film roughly 50,000 times more compelling than Lewis’s depressing squaloramas.

While TERROR IS A MAN deployed misty b&w for atmospheric Lewtonesque shadow-work, getting close to the beauty of Gabriel Figueroa’s photography except that here the lighting and diffusion changes randomly from shot to shot, and BLOOD DRINKERS has that hyper-intense gel-lit palette, the main technique in this one is the zoom — whenever the chlorophyll pedophile attacks his victims, cinematographer Justo Paulino masturbates his zoom bar, sending the lens pulsing frantically in and out, just a little, sending ripples across the viewer’s retina as the image jumps towards the eye, then away again, twice a second. I felt like my temporal lobes had been trampled by boys.

vlcsnap-72789Green on green.

The waterfalls and scenery are quite nice, the naked girls welcome, the gore is rather impressive and horrible, the acting has that same dreamy flatness (quite different from the nativity play mix of tension and ineptitude in HG Lewis) and as with the other Philippine horrors I’ve seen, there’s a nice feeling that the usual genre conventions may not apply, everything’s up for grabs. Now I need to find BLOOD DEVILS…

Help a brother out! Use this link to buy your BLOOD ISLAND BOX SET from Amazon, and support Shadowplay.
The Blood Island Vacation (Brides of Blood / The Mad Doctor of Blood Island / Beast of Blood / Brain of Blood)

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Fall of the Curse of the Horrors of the Coughing Man Without a Body from Beyond Space (With Sledgehammers)

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2009 by dcairns

So, my “See REPTILICUS and Die” quest to watch all the films depicted in Denis Gifford’s A Pictorial History of Horror Movies goes on — here is the fourth and final list of entries I haven’t told you about. This was completed on the laptop of our young ward, Louis. As I see the movies, I will change the titles here to RED. A few earlier entries have already changed hue.

Page 162. I think I tried to watch KING OF THE ZOMBIES online once, but the combination of bad, low-res image and sound, and bad, low-res film-making was too much for me. If I can get a decent copy I suppose I’ll have to try again.

Page 163. VOODOO MAN is a quickie from Poverty Row kings Monogram, which brings George Zucco and Bela Lugosi together and attempts to keep them sober.

Beautiful zombies at the mercy of a madman! I like the idea of the screenwriter hero — poverty row goes pomo!

164-165. THE NEANDERTHAL MAN has a fun make-up, but I don’t know anything else about it. CRY OF THE WEREWOLF stars Nina Foch, which is good news, but is this one of those’40s monster movies without an actual monster? THE HYPNOTIC EYE is such a good title, I would be satisfied if the movie itself were just a lingering close-up of a dripping eyeball. That would be pretty hypnotic. In fact, it’s possibly the only film shot in Hypno-Magic, “the thrill you see and feel”. I wonder if, after the word “feel”, in very very small microdot writing, is the word “cheated”. It seems possible.

167. VENGEANCE, with Anne Heywood is an Anglo-German brain movie, which strongly suggests to me that it must be at least as good as Ozu’s LATE SPRING. But I could be wrong there.

171. I’ve kind of seen FIEND WITHOUT A FACE, but “kind of” doesn’t cut it here, and I’m actually intrigued to experience it properly. Director Arthur Crabtree’s career starts with erotic Freudian Gainsborough melodrama MADONNA OF THE SEVEN MOONS and ends with sadeian thick-ear HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM, making him a genuine God of Trash. Crazy trash, the kind that Douglas Sirk reckons can sometimes approach art.

172-3. It’s actually quite hard to recall which Universal ’50s giant animal films I’ve seen, but I think it’s, like, all of them. But from Japan comes SPACE AMOEBA, GAMERA VERSUS JIGER, and DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. The last-named was probably the film my seven-year-old self was ulcerating to see above all others.

175. IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE, is a precursor to ALIEN in many ways. I’ve seen the last half-hour and actually found it tense, which is practically unheard-of for these things. Even though it’s by the generally rather useless Edward L Cahn, I’m psyched to see the whole show. PHANTOM FROM SPACE looks like one of the big-heads from Metaluna has been working out at Muscle Beach. Has to be worth a chuckle at least.

180. Here we have REPTILICUS, the only Danish dinosaur movie I can think of. An IMDb reviewer writes, “This is the movie that we Danes can be proud of!! It is the worst movie ever made but it is so funny that I am about to die.” So I’m right to hold off on watching this until the instant of my death. I shall complete my meaningless Gifford-based quest by choking on my own brains as I watch Copenhagen flattened by a prehistoric glove puppet. Incidentally, REPTILICUS is directed by Poul Bang and Sidney Pink, so when I do blog about it, from the afterlife, I can joke about it being a Pink/Bang movie. Something for us all to look forward to.

184. FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD is an endearingly stupid idea, a Japanese giant monster movie (kaiju) in which the giant monster is the Frankenstein monster, somehow grown to 100ft in height, battling a big squid.

187. 1957’s THE VAMPIRE again, for some reason. Was Gifford just randomly throwing publicity snaps together?

190. INVISIBLE INVADERS is not only directed by Edward L Cahn (THE FOUR SKULLS OF JONATHAN DRAKE), but almost as if that weren’t enough, it stars John Agar. The mark of greatness. The still shows a bunch of zombie-type guys advancing through scrubland, and I can so easily imagine them singing the lyrics of Frank Zappa’s The Radio is Broken: “They need to reproduce! With John Agar… They need to reproduce! With Sonny Tufts… They need to reproduce! With Jackie Coogan…”

191. WILLARD. Rats. Lots of rats. Is this the one with the Michael Jackson song?

194. A couple of serious rarities: posters for a 1902 version of MARIA MARTEN, OR THE MURDER IN THE RED BARN (I’ve seen the later Tod Slaughter version) and FIGHT WITH SLEDGEHAMMERS, billed as “The most thrilling film ever taken.” I can totally believe it. It’s certainly the most thrilling title ever written, and why it hasn’t been used for every film made since, I can’t imagine. I suppose that would eventually cause confusion.

196. THE MAN WITHOUT A BODY deals with a reanimated head of Nostradamus. Rather than getting an actor to stick his head up through a hole in a table, the producers appear to have assembled an unconvincing puppet head, and fastened that to a table. Either that, or it’s an actor cunningly disguised to resemble a puppet head. THE CURSE OF THE LIVING CORPSE shows a rather attractive severed head on a plate. She may actually be the sexiest severed head I’ve ever seen. Who is she? I don’t know, but this movie does feature Candace Hilligoss from CARNIVAL OF SOULS, in what’s basically her only other role, so I have to see it. And it stars a nubile Roy Scheider! It’s directed by Del Tenney, who seems to have specialised in utter shit, but I’ll give this one a go.

197 features a bit of our personal history — a spooky image of a little girl at a window, her hands pressed against the glass. Fiona did a painting of this at art school. Gifford mislabels the still CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED (a nice movie, underrated) but it’s actually from Mario Bava’s brilliant OPERAZIONE PAURA / KILL BABY KILL! Fiona was thrilled to finally see the movie and recognise the image.

198. Oscar Homolka Akim Tamiroff as THE VULTURE? Count me in! Basically a stout, elderly Russian in a feather boa, not the most obviously terrifying image in the world, but I believe I could get into the spirit of the thing. TROG is the movie that inspired John Landis’s entire career — he saw it, and was convinced he could do better. Freddie Francis, the greatly embarrassed director of TROG, is therefore indirectly responsible for BEVERLY HILLS COP III and THE STUPIDS.

200. A movie from 1924 which I suspect may be hard to track down: THE COUGHING HORROR. Adapted from a Sax Rohmer potboiler, it’s a silent movie, which means that it absolutely MUST feature intertitles that read “Cough. Cough. Cough.” If I can find this beauty, I promise to feature it in Intertitle of the Week.

202. THE PHANTOM OF SOHO looks neat-o, being a German adaptation from a Bryan Edgar Wallace story.

203. THE MURDER CLINIC is an Alfredo Leone production, which means I extend the hand of friendship to it without a second thought. CASTLE SINISTER is a British movie from 1948 that I’ve never come across. That’s going to be a tough one to find.

206. THE BLACK CAT. An IMDB reviewer says  — “This version of “The Black Cat” was filmed in Texas in the mid-60’s and is probably one of the few Poe adaptations to have go-go dancers and rock and roll.” He also points out that the image used in Gifford, a girl with an axe embedded in her skull, was used as an album cover by a band rejoicing in the name The Angry Samoans. SEDDOK is another memorable title, but the movie (true title SEDDOK, L’EREDE DI SATANA) is a knock-off of EYES WITHOUT A FACE.

207. THE SPECTRE is the follow-up to THE HORRIBLE DR HITCHCOCK. Haven’t seen either of them. I bought a tape of the last-named in Camden Town a few years ago, but it crapped out shortly after the titles (featuring a credit for somebody called “Frank Smokecocks”). These are Riccardo Freda films, and therefore definite must-sees. Freda is a cinematic Sultan of Wrongness. I keep missing THE BLOOD BEAST TERROR, only catching bits, but maybe it’ll be worth seeing if a decent transfer turns up — I seem to recall it’s one of those Tigon productions that always seems impenetrably dark when aired on TV. MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND is another Philippino favourite, and another graphic image I tried to protect my little friend from in childhood.

208. 1949 British version of FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER sounds very intriguing — Britain really wasn’t known for horror in those days. This is a tatty “quota quickie” that sounds kind of appealing.

216. Last page of the index, and Gifford manages one more still (although he forgets to list it IN the index): the 1923 WARNING SHADOWS, which I have and which I intend to watch very soon.