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Sunday, November 11, 2018

BEAST OF BLOOD -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

Like many horror fans, my first look at the "Chlorophyll Man" was in Dennis Gifford's celebrated book, "Pictorial History of Horror Movies."  Now, with Severin Films' Blu-ray release of BEAST OF BLOOD (1970), we get to see the movie behind that picture in all its gruesome, exploitative glory.

The finale of the "Blood Island Trilogy", which includes "Brides of Blood" and "Mad Doctor of Blood Island" (along with the 1959 prequel, "Terror Is a Man"), this lurid shocker is pure grindhouse goodness for horror lovers who enjoy wandering the dark territory of the grotesque and bizarre.

The story picks up right where "Mad Doctor of Blood Island" left off, with Dr. Bill Foster (the great John Ashley) leaving Blood Island on a boat which, unbeknownst to him, contains a stowaway--none other than the dreaded Chlorophyll Man himself.  When this creature attacks in a frantically-staged scene, the ship ends up sinking and Foster is the only survivor.

He returns to the island some time later to investigate brand new sightings of the "green men" created by evil Dr. Lorca, and discovers that the doctor has also survived the previous film albeit with some severe facial burns and a renewed interest in creating green-blooded chlorophyll monsters using the local island inhabitants as his guinea pigs.

Foster and a hardy crew of local men set off through the jungle to Dr. Lorca's remote subterranean lair, accompanied by plucky lady reporter Myra Russell (Celeste Yarnall, LIVE A LITTLE, LOVE A LITTLE, "Star Trek: The Apple") and even pluckier island girl Laida (Liza Belmonte) who is as handy with a machete as she is beautiful.

Much of the first half of the film covers their trek through the jungle, which tends to drag a bit until finally we rejoin Dr. Lorca in all his mad-doctor glory. "Beast of Blood" kicks into fun-gear at this point, thanks mainly to the fact that Chlorophyll Man's decapitated head is being kept alive while his headless body is strapped to a lab table, also alive.

Lorca's laboratory set and its surrounding cave tunnels look like something out of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." and give the movie a pleasantly low-rent science fiction vibe. But it's the horror of that really hideous animated head leering back at Lorca and baring its fangs, biding its time for a chance to get revenge, that gives these scenes a satisfying shudder.

As usual, Lorca keeps a fresh stock of native captives caged for his ghastly experiments, with the goriest scenes consisting of some actual animal entrails being sliced and diced by the mad doctor's scalpel under the camera's loving gaze.

The film's sex quotient is filled early on when Foster and Myra have a steamy sex scene containing quite a bit of nudity.  Soon after, Myra is kidnapped by Lorca's men and serves mainly as a damsel in distress, giving Foster and crew added incentive to descend on Lorca's compound bearing spears and guns in the film's delightfully action-packed battle royale.

The machete-wielding Laida is especially fine during this sequence, and even Myra gets a chance to impale a bad guy or two.  John Ashley fans will enjoy seeing him in James Bond/Indiana Jones mode as well.  But the best part is when Chlorophyll Man takes telepathic control of his headless body (in a finale reminiscent of "The Brain That Wouldn't Die") and goes after Dr. Lorca while the laboratory crumbles around them.

Visually, this Severin Films Blu-ray (available only as part of the "Blood Island Collection") is less refined and restored than the rest of the trilogy, but it's a look that I find deeply appealing in a nostalgic way.  Extras consist of the following:

Audio Commentary with Hemisphere Marketing Consultant Samuel M. Sherman
Celeste and the Beast: An Interview with Celeste Yarnall
Dr. Lorca’s Blood Devils: Interview with Actor Eddie Garcia
Super 8 Digest Version (approx. 15 minutes)
Poster & Still Gallery

With no arthouse pretensions whatsoever, BEAST OF BLOOD simply wants to shock, appall, and exploit our basest entertainment needs, which it does in shameless earnest.  It's prime, joyfully perverse drive-in fodder, and I'd rather watch it than whatever they threw Academy Awards at this year.   

Buy "The Blood Island Collection" at Severin Films
("Beast of Blood" Available ONLY in Box Set)


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