Curious cinematic contribution
Bruce Lampley | Reading PA | 09/21/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Any film that is a sequel that has Angelique Pettijohn replacing Beverly Hills has to be watched to be believed. There was a series of this Phillipine-shot flicks at the time and I remembered seeing a lot of them on old WVIA-44 in Scranton with some old guy hosting ala Zacherley. These were spooky and moody with some great locales and some gory effects but, really, they had marginal acting and some terrible scripts. They were kitchsy and cool when we were kids and if you look at the Blood Island films from the eye in the corner of you memory, you'll really enjoy them. I think Mad Doctor was the best of the bunch."
"I fear I have mislaid one of my patients."
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 06/05/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Of the handful of drive-in features that took place on `Blood Island' back in the late 1960s/early 1970s, Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968) was (and is) the most popular. Why? I'm not entirely sure, but I think it had something to do with a couple of factors, the first being there seemed to be more blood and guts in this one than the others and second being Ms. Angelique Pettyjohn's willingness to doff her clothes, if only for a brief, few moments...interestingly enough her character survives this film, but her predecessor, Beverly Hills aka Beverly Powers, who appeared in the earlier made Brides of Blood (1968), showing considerably less skin, did not make out as well by the end of her feature. Coincidence? Perhaps, but one must also consider the fact Ms. Power's character was a condescending, patronizing, overbearing, emasculating b*tch on wheels...produced and directed by Eddie Romero (Brides of Blood, Beast of the Yellow Night, Beast of Blood), the film stars John Ashley (High School Caesar, Beach Blanket Bingo, Beast of Blood) and Angelique Pettyjohn ("Get Smart", Clambake), probably most famous for her role as the busty alien Shahna who falls for Captain Kirk (big surprise), from the original Star Trek episode `The Gamesters of Triskelion'.
After a bit where a nekkid native girl meets her demise at the hands (or claws) of some mysterious humanoid beast in the jungle, we meet three individuals traveling by boat towards...wait for it...Blood Island! You know, it seems to me with a name like that you're only asking for trouble...anyway, there's Dr. Bill Foster (Ashley), a pathologist, a pretty blonde named Sheila Willard (Pettyjohn), and some schlep named Carlos. I haven't the foggiest idea why Bill is making the trip (and I saw the movie), but Sheila is looking for her father, whom she lost contact with after he came to the island and Carlos is returning home in hopes to whisking his mother away from the dreadful place. Upon arriving Sheila finds her father (turns out he's just an alkie-bum), Bill does whatever Bill does, and Carlos visits his mother, who happens to have a few house guests including Dr. Lorca and his bald-headed, mute, machete-wielding manservant Razak (seems Lorca administered to Carlos' sickly father before he passed some years ago and is now on permanent house call mode). After Carlos gets propositioned on by the house concubine named Marla, a bunch of stuff happens, including various natives killed and disemboweled by a fungus man lurking in the jungle, whom the natives believe is an evil spirit punishing them for their transgressions (stoopid natives). Turns out the grassy hued homicidal beast is only a product of that no-goodnik Dr. Lorca, who has been experimenting with the introduction of chlorophyll, of all things, into the human body (what a nut). Carlos and Marla shag (she used to do his father), some more natives get eviscerated (talk about being expendable), fungus men come out of the woodwork, revelations are made, Bill and Sheila shag (the doctor is in), and eventually everything comes to a bloody head, both literally and figuratively...
This movie suffered from a number of problems, the main being the lack of a strong and easily understandable story, but I did learn a few things including the following...
1. Despite having an ominous name and a forboding reputation, visitors still seem to flock to Blood Island in droves.
2. If you don't have expensive lighting equipment to film during the night, that's all right, just slap a dark lens on the camera, throw in some cricket sound effects, and tell the performers it's night when it's so obviously daytime (my, the moon shines with a gleaming, almost blinding, brilliance).
3. Fungus men are extremely sensitive to electromagnetic emissions from radio equipment.
4. Angelique Pettyjohn has a fantastic rack.
5. Natives, in general, are incredibly dense.
6. Pathologists are unusually adept at hand-to-hand combat techniques.
7. Apparently a son is entitled to his father's concubine after the father passes (delightful).
8. Dr. Lorca seems have a flare for fashion, much like the late, great Liberace.
9. Zooming the camera in and out quickly does not intensify the tension of a particular scene as much as it makes the viewer queasy.
10. The odd, musical native dance number can really help eat up some running time.
This film is an excellent example of some of the sleazy, low budget jungle/horror/sci-fi exploitation features to come out of the burgeoning Philippine film industry in the late 1960s/early 1970s, as American producers discovered they could shoot a feature in the Philippines for a fraction of the cost to shoot it in the states. Ashley, alumni of various JD (Juvenile Delinquent) and beach party films of the 1960s, was one of the first to recognize the market, opening the door for a number of others. The story here is as weak as watered down water as various elements don't jibe or are never made fully clear, but if you're in the mood for some squalid, tacky, sordid fun, this should be right up your alley. There was one aspect of this film I found particularly funny (and annoying) and that was whenever the main, death dealing creature made the scene, the camera would zoom in and out rapidly, in an effort (I suspect) to heighten the tension...it didn't work, but it did succeed in making me nauseous. The performances are uniformly lousy, but that's no surprise given the insipid, melodramatic script. Characters would come and go (the character of Sheila disappeared for a good twenty minutes before showing up again), and there'd be little rhyme or reason for their motives or actions (I still have no clear idea why Ashley's character made the trip). Despite all of this, I still had fun because I knew specifically what I was getting myself into...there are a few gory bits (victims covered in animal entrails to simulate evisceration), and some nekkid bits, along with an explosive finale and a suitably goofy open ended ending.
The restored picture, presented in fullscreen (1.33:1) format, on this Image Entertainment release looks very good. It does show signs of aging (some lines, white specking, etc.), but compared to some of the murky VHS copies I've seen, this is about as good as you'll probably get (distributor Sam Sherman supplied the print, which he supposedly got way back when Hemispheres, the company that originally produced the feature, went belly up). The Dolby Digital mono audio comes through very well. As far as extras included, there's a short audio commentary track featuring distributor Sam Sherman, an interview with director Eddie Romero, an original Mad Doctor of Blood Island `green blood' prologue bit, a "House of Terror" live horror show promo, a still gallery, liner notes by Jim Arena, a Mad Doctor of Blood Island essay by Christopher William Koenig, and a trailer for this film, along with ones for Brides of Blood (1968), Beast of Blood (1971), Brain of Blood (1972), Blood of the Vampires (1971), The Blood Drinkers (1966), and Raiders of the Living Dead (1986).
By the way, if you're interesting in getting this DVD release, I'd suggest trying to find the four DVD set titled The Blood Island Vacation, released by Image Entertainment, which includes the following...Brides of Blood (1968), Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968), Beast of Blood (1971), and Brain of Blood (1972). It appears significantly less expensive than buying the titles separately.
M. D. Peebles | Florida | 10/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hey! Don't knock the camera Zoom-Zooming in and out. The effect was not far different but way ahead of the "Blair Witch" shaky camera technique. Haven't seen a re-issue yet, but this was always one of my favorite late night creature features."