Tuesday, January 14, 2014

MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND 1968

Blood Island Movie Night # 1


"All the Horrifying Nightmares of a Thousand Frightening Dreams...!"


      The Citizen Kane of Filipino horror films, 1968’s THE MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND was Hemisphere Pictures second film of its quasi “blood trilogy”- proceeded by 1968’s BRIDES OF BLOOD and followed by BEAST OF BLOOD in 1971. It’s actually the third if you count the earlier b&w TERROR IS A MAN (which was released in the U.S. in 1964) and to add further to the fun there’s Hemisphere’s BRAIN OF BLOOD from 1971 (which bizarrely enough is an Al Adamson directed/ U.S. lensed feature that attempted to pass itself off as Filipino production by producer & Hemisphere U.S. head Sam Sherman).


     Although often listed as a series, MAD DOCTOR only shares its Blood Island local from the earlier BRIDES and there’s only a fleeting reference to “the evil one” (BRIDE’s famous “Michelin Man” monster) to tie the two films together, although John Ashley and Bruno Punzalan show up as varations of the same character in both movies. BEAST is a direct sequel to MAD DOCTOR as they both share the same main protagonists,along with the (in)famous chlorophyll monster. There was a bunch of coverage in Famous Monsters for these films back in the day (with some wonderfully lurid stills) that had young readers salivating too see them.


      Starting off with the audience participation gimmick of asking patrons to drink the green blood (which was supplied in little packets & producer Sam Sherman reveals in his commentary made him sick when he tried it) and then recite the “blood oath” to protect themselves (Oh man,I wish movies would still do this type of stuff...). The film then jumps into a pre-credit sequence that has a naked woman (with some surprising full frontal stuff) being pursued thru the jungle and then bloodily ravaged by a half glimpsed greenish man/monster which is all set to a frantic jarring music score and a constant zooming in/out camera that would do Jess Franco proud.


 
     Aboard a boat heading toward Blood Island is Dr. Bill Foster (John Ashley) going there to investigate a mysterious disease, Sheila Willard (everybody’s favorite original Star Trek babe Angelique Pettyjohn) who’s looking for her alcoholic father and Carlos Lopez (the hilariously wooden Renaldo Valdez) who hopes to persuade his mother to leave (in the words of the boat captain) “that pestilence filled island”. Upon arrival there Sheila finds her father stumbling around, Carlos finds his mother strangely unwilling to leave (along with some weird Oedipus-like vibes between them) and Bill finds all the native islanders jumpy concerning the disembowelings occurring in the jungle (when their not engaging in animal sacrifices and fertility orgies).




    Presiding over everything is Dr. Lorca (the great Ronald Remy), who along with his mute assistant Razak (Bruno Punzalan) is experimenting on the effects of chlorophyll on the human body is his basement laboratory with the end result being the “chlorophyll” monster that’s stalking around the island. In addition there’s some mystery regarding the monster’s relationship to Carlos and his mother as its hinted at as being his father "Don Ramon". Plus we got ANOTHER green skinned mutant lurking around (”I’ve mislaid one of my patients”, Dr. Lorca explains) who frightens a negligee clad Pettyjohn one night.
   Directors Eddie Romero & Gerardo de Leon don’t skimp on anything here exploitation-wise as this was one of the first widely distributed horror movies to really amp up the gore & nudity. With the wildly flailing monster throwing various body parts around and leaving piles of what (we hope) are animal entrails lying about combined with the crazy zooming in/out framing and somewhat shocking for 1968 amounts of nudity all add up to a pretty amazingly mindbogglingly movie experience.



   Because of shooting conditions & film stock, these low-budget Filipino movies from this period all have a real grunginess to them with MAD DOCTOR’s rotting jungle atmosphere, random smoke pots billowing away and off kilter day for night photography all adding to the bizarre proceedings. The frantic zooming shots of Angelique Pettyjohn loping along
& screaming thru the jungle wearing a pink mini-dress, sandals and a truly awe-inspiring massive hair-do all the while being pursued by the green bulbous plaster headed monster (complete with cut-out eye holes) is truly a sight to behold.




    John Ashley, who after his divorce from frequent Beach Party co- star Deborah Walley, came to the Philippines and after working on these movies stuck around eventually working as both a producer and star. He would later produce the highly successful THE A-TEAM for television (that’s his voice speaking the opening narration).
    Angelique Pettyjohn is probably best known for her appearance as the green haired alien gladiator in the Star Trek fan favorite episode THE GAMESTERS OF TRISKELION. She appeared in low-budget films & TV throughout the 70’s and in the early 80’s began appearing in hard core pornography under the names Angel St. John and Heaven St. John. At one point in the late 80’s I meet her at a convention and she seemed rather surprised that someone would be there for MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND (she was dressed in her full Star Trek regalia). She was very nice and apologized profusely for not having any pictures from it to sign. As I had her sign one of the Famous Monsters that had a BLOOD ISLAND article in it, she said that she lost a bunch of weight on the shoot because of the horrible food and that John Ashley went “a bit too far” during her nude love-making campfire scene with him.
   These movies were sold to T.V. in the late 70’s with various A.I.P. packages and as stations never felt the need to cut the standard A.I.P. fare of beach & Vincent Price Poe movies, they never bothered to check these and as a result sometimes they would inadvertently run uncut.







4 comments:

  1. It's hard to imagine the stuff they used to do, like pass out green shit for people to ingest... even harder to imagine that people did it!

    This looks like a pretty wacky one.

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    1. It's beyond wacky (if you haven't you really need to check out all three of them). The Alpha DVD's are clones from the OOP Image ones and can be had for dirt cheap. They said it was green Kool-Aid, but god knows what it really was !

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  2. Yep, this one looks pretty trip...great post!

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    1. Hi Tommy. You right, this is some weird stuff ! (I LOVE Filipino cinema)

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