Previously available from Image Entertainment, as well as one of Madacy's "Killer Creature Double Features" discount pairings under its alternate title, BLOOD CREATURE, TERROR IS A MAN is a low budget version of H.G. Wells' "Island of Dr. Moreau" (they could only afford one monster), and it has the distinction of being the first Filipino horror film. This is the first teaming of producers Kane Lynn (an American) and Eddie Romero (from the Philippines), who years later would take us one some colorful, gory trips to "Blood Island."
RETURN OF DRACULA star Francis Lederer (who died in 2000 at the age of 100!) plays Dr. Girard, a ex-New Yorker scientist conducting unusual medical experiments on a remote island ("Isla de Sangre") with his reluctant blonde wife (sexy Greta Thyssen, who had just been in many of The Three Stooges' final shorts). 1940s leading man Richard Derr also stars as the survivor of a shipwreck, arriving on the island to romance Thyssen, smoke cigarettes, eat, and thank God that he's alive. Most of the native villagers have fled the island, fearing the doctor's experiments. In his determination to start a new race, the Dr. Girard has turned a panther into a semi-human monster, garbed in bandages from head to toe. Although it has a soul, the creature breaks free and becomes a vicious killer on the rampage.
Although very slow in pacing, the film still has some nice cinematography, a dark noir mood, and some genuine scares--dedicated horror film fans will one to give it a try. This landmark exploiter is not nearly as sensational as the "women-in-prison" and monster flicks that would later surface from the Philippines, but it was enough of a success, and de Leon would inject similar ideas into BRIDES OF BLOOD (co-directed by Romero). TERROR IS A MAN's notoriety is partly thanks to a "warning bell" that pops up on the bottom of the screen when a bloody (single) scene comes on--in this case some surgery footage that utilized a real pig incision. Funny enough, the bell sounds like and old telephone ringing loudly!
Wellspring's DVD of TERROR IS A MAN utilizes the same transfer on the previous Image release (copyrighted by Sam Sherman's Independent International Pictures), so if you hadn't picked up this title before, this one is recommended (avoid Madacy's abominable BLOOD CREATURE disc, or any other budget version for that matter). The image here is very good; a crisp black and white picture with sharp detail. There is some dirt, splices and sometimes the picture is a bit dark, but these problems are minimal. The packaging claims "original 1.33:1 ratio" which is very debatable. A lot of dead space on the top of the screen, as well as the year it was produced, are surefire giveaways that the film should have been matted/letterboxed. Audio has some hiss, but at least the dialog is always loud and very clear.
Extras include a video interview (around 20 minutes) with producer Eddie Romero, which was previously featured on a number of Image "Blood Collection" releases. Romero appears very cheerful and unpretentious, and he talks a bit about how he got started, the budgets of his films, and his association with Gerardo de Leon. Jim Arena wrote the liner notes for Image's "Blood Collection," so it's very fitting that he did the same for this release, and again, does an excellent job. Three trailers are included: TERROR IS A MAN, IN SEARCH OF DRACULA and RAIDERS OF LEYTE GULF. (George R. Reis)
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