BEAST OF BLOOD was the final installment in Hemisphere Pictures' now famous "Blood Island" trilogy, a series of Philippines-lensed horror films starring former AIP teen idol John Ashley. Unlike the initial installment, BRIDES OF BLOOD, which is rather unrelated, BEAST is a direct sequel to THE MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND, picking up directly where that picture left off.
The pre-credit sequence is an awesome spectacle for fans of this kind of stuff. Hiding on a ship departing from Blood Island, the green-blooded beast rises once again to slaughter the entire crew of a ship in maniacal fashion. After an explosion blows the boat to bits, only Dr. Bill Foster (Ashley again, sideburns longer than ever) manages to escape with his life. Determined to track down Dr. Lorca and stop his insane experiments, Foster makes his way back to the island, but so has the beast of the title.
This time, Ashley's romantic interest is played by lovely cult actress Celeste Yarnell (THE VELVET VAMPIRE) as reporter Myra Russell. One of her perils involves an encounter with quicksand and some would-be rapists. As with most Philippines exploitation films that would follow in the decade, BEAST OF BLOOD is more of an adventure with a generous amount of nudity and lots of blood flowing by the gallons. People are speared, shot and stabbed all in an effort to track down our friend Dr. Lorca. Eddie Garcia now takes over the role from Ronald Remy in the previous film. Since the character was last seen in a roaring fire, Lorca has now returned with an eye patch and half of his face burnt to a crusty mess resembling hardened oatmeal.
Although the horror elements are less frequent than in the previous installments, they are still there and still outrageous. Lorca keeps the beast's head alive in a secret laboratory while doing experiments on its body--including attempts to transfer other severed heads to it! The monster's face is more defined in this one, but still a green gooey mess with large fangs and it even verbally threatens Lorca with a thick Philippine accent!
BEAST OF BLOOD (shown on television as BEAST OF THE DEAD) is a worthy ending to this schlock trilogy, and its reputation is further strengthened by an unforgettable ad campaign that included illustrations of the title monster holding his severed head above his body!
On DVD, BEAST OF BLOOD looks inferior to the other two "Blood Island" titles from Image Entertainment, but it still looks better than ever before. BEAST is presented in 1.33:1 full frame, and although it's a bit tight on the sides and top and bottom, the picture framing doesn't look too bad. Source age flaws are present, such as minor print grain and debris, but the colors still come of strong, with only minimal fading and several night scenes that a bit too dark. The audio track is nicely presented, with clear dialog and no noticeable distortion. Since the film has been presented in various incarnations on TV and video in the past, we must also note that this DVD is complete and uncut.
This DVD boasts some nice extras as would be expected. First off is an audio commentary with Sam Sherman that lasts just under an hour. Sherman uses the time to further discuss the history of Hemisphere pictures, focusing on a feud between the principle owners that lead to the company's demise. He also mentions how he was disappointed with Eddie Romero's script for a proposed fourth "Blood Island" film and how he declined to get involved (that script was filmed and released by New World as BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT).
Sherman also interviews Celeste Yarnall at a recent "Chiller Theatre" convention in New Jersey. The video interview is a nice bonus, and Yarnell is well-spirited and seems proud of the film's popularity. She relays how the conditions were filming there and how she got along so well with the Philippine people. Another treat is footage of the beast making his way back to Blood Island. This never-before-seen sequence was originally intended to play under the title credits but was eventually replaced by the familiar animation by Bob LeBar. Hemisphere fan extrodinaire Jim Arena once again provides the exceptional liner notes ("the twisted Club Med of drive-in horror flicks") and there is a solid essay/introduction by Christopher William Koenig, obviously a great lover of drive-in movies.
Other extras are carryovers from all the discs in this collection: Theatrical trailers for BRIDES OF BLOOD, MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND, THE BLOOD DRINKERS, BEAST OF BLOOD, BRAIN OF BLOOD and BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRES (aka CURSE OF THE VAMPIRES) and the "House of Terror" Live Horror Show Promo; the Eddie Romero video interview; and a still gallery made up of photos and ad art from the first "Blood Island" films as well as shots from several Andy Milligan films and NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES. (George R. Reis)
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