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Saturday, November 10, 2018

MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

The middle entry in the American-Filipino "Blood Island Trilogy" that started with "Brides of Blood" (and its sort-of prequel "Terror Is a Man"), MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND (Severin Films, 1969) moves the dial much closer to eleven with more blood (much of it green), more gore and severed limbs, more grotesque monsters, and, last but not least, more sex and nudity.  In other words, more exploitation for our twisted viewing pleasure.

This time the boat to the island carries Dr. Bill Foster (John Ashley of "Brides of Blood" again), investigating reports of a green-blooded maniac on the island; Sheila Willard (Angelique Pettyjohn), a woman searching for her long-missing father; and a young man named Carlos (Ronaldo Valdez) returning to his old village in hopes of persuading his widowed mother to return to civilization with him.

What all of these people have in common is Dr. Lorca (Ronald Remy, THE LONGEST HUNDRED MILES, FLIGHT OF THE SPARROW), a research scientist who may or may not be an insane crackpot performing horrifying experiments on anyone he or his henchman Razak can get their hands on. The local natives provide a steady supply of subjects, several of whom now roam the jungle as hideous chlorophyll plant-monsters attacking people and disemboweling them.

These scenes are way more graphic than in previous entries in the series, as we're treated to bloody severed limbs and heads flying about while copious amounts of actual animal entrails ooze from a procession of hapless victims.  The gore effects are crude but plentiful, while the grotesque monster makeup, especially on the main chlorophyll creature, makes them look as though they're wearing spinach and asparagus pizzas on their faces.

The steamy melodrama within Dr. Lorca's mansion takes up much screen time, providing not only heaps of interpersonal conflict (along with some amusingly biting dialogue) but also a much larger sex and nudity quotient than before.

This is especially true for Carlos when he's reunited with a young village girl from his past who seduces him while still carrying a torch for his dead father, and for Dr. Foster and Sheila who are destined to go at it eventually.  Various village girls scamper around nude in the jungle as well before coming face-to-face with Chlorophyll Man.

As in the previous film, John Ashley ends up on the run with his girlfriend from a group of hostile villagers who think he's brought misfortune to their island.  Meanwhile, we get to see a tomb opened up, a graphic monster attack inside Dr. Lorca's own home, some eyebrow-raising plot twists, and, finally, an explosive finish that takes place within a subterranean laboratory of horror.

Production values are considerably less polished this time although the beautiful natural settings are a huge asset.  There's an odd stylistic affectation that grows tiresome real quick--whenever a monster is present, the camera lens zooms in and out in jittery fashion.  Before long I was wishing I could get my hands on the cameraman's zoom lens and smash it to pieces.

There's also a disturbing element of needless, sadistic animal cruelty in one scene that puts a damper on the entire film.  It's a really nasty scene, and I couldn't view anything else that followed without repeatedly going back to it in my mind.  This is the sort of thing that would also ruin my enjoyment of other jungle exploitation films to come.

The great John Ashley once again lends his considerable presence to the proceedings, this time accompanied by the equally noteworthy Angelique Pettyjohn.  "Star Trek" fans will remember her as the warrior woman with the Jiffy-Pop bra and silver hair in "The Gamesters of Triskelion" as well as numerous cult pics like "The Last Empire" and "Repo Man."

The Blu-ray from Severin Films is scanned in 4k from a recently discovered camera negative and presented totally uncut for the first time ever, including the legendary “Oath of Green Blood” prologue.  Extras include:

Audio Commentary with Horror Film Historians Nathaniel Thompson and Howard S. Berger
Audio Commentary with Hemisphere Marketing Consultant Samuel M. Sherman
Tombs of the Living Dead: Interview with Pete Tombs, Co-Author of “Immoral Tales”
A Taste of Blood: Interview with Critic Mark Holcomb
The Mad Doctor of Blood Island: Archival Interview with Co-Director Eddie Romero
Poster & Still Gallery
Bonus Disc: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD (in box set only)
Reversible TOMB OF THE LIVING DEAD Cover  

As a continuation of the "Blood Island" series, MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND ups the exploitation ante on all counts and comes through for anyone who likes their monster/horror action cheap, lurid, and drenched with sex and gore.  The animal cruelty element is indefensible--for some, it will even be a deal-breaker--but otherwise this is down and dirty monster fun. 

Buy "The Blood Island Collection" at Severin Films

Buy "Mad Doctor of Blood Island" at Severins Films


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