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Image Entertainment presents
Beast of Blood (Beast of the Dead) (1970)

"What brings you to Blood Island this time, doctor?"
- Dr. Lorca (Eddie Garcia)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: December 08, 2002

Stars: John Ashley, Celeste Yarnall, Eddie Garcia
Other Stars: Liza Belmonte, Bruno Punzalan, Beverly Miller
Director: Eddie Romero

MPAA Rating: PG for (horror violence and brief nudity)
Run Time: 01h:30m:30s
Release Date: November 05, 2002
UPC: 014381145724
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- C+CB- B+

DVD Review

Beast of Blood is really the third film in Hemisphere Pictures Philippine-made Blood series, though in actuality it is one of six that Image has released as part of their superb Blood Collection. This 1970 entry is a loosely connected sequel to the 1968 Mad Doctor of Blood Island, with star John Ashley returning once again as Dr. Bill Foster. The eerie Ronald Remy, however has been replaced by Philippine icon Eddie Garcia as the mad Dr. Lorca, and evil henchman Razak is once again played by hulking menace Bruno Punzalan. The story picks up immediately after the events of Mad Doctor of Blood Island, though it's comical how no one mentions the fate of Angelique Pettyjohn.

Ashley's Dr. Foster returns to Blood Island, accompanied by photo-journalist/love interest Myra Russell (Celeste Yarnall) and a tough sea captain (Beast of Blood scribe Beverly Miller), for yet another confrontation with the evil Dr. Lorca, here burdened with some bad-looking "burn" makeup as a result of his climactic battle in the earlier film. Even with the presence of Lorca and his chlorophyll-induced zombies, this one plays out more like a low-brow Indiana Jones adventure yarn, more akin to a B-grade jungle adventure than a pure horror film. Hemisphere Pictures producer Sam Sherman likens Beast of Blood to a "Dr. No-type film" on the accompanying audio commentary, but no matter how you slice it, the film remains typical drive-in fluff with a requisite amount of nudity and gore.

Ashley is anonymously rugged in the lead, and serves as the Anglo connection for American audiences (along with Yarnall and Mitchell) for what is otherwise an all-Philippino cast. It is the absence of Ronald Remy that is the severest omission, and the one cast change that is the most noticeable and unforgivable. If you have ever seen Mad Doctor of Blood Island you know that Remy WAS Dr. Lorca, and even an extremely talented actor like Garcia would be hard-pressed to fill his shoes. Garcia would later shine in Hemisphere's Blood of the Vampires, but in this one he is always acting in the shadow of Remy.

Beast of Blood, despite another sequel-ready cliffhanger ending, proved to be the last of Hemisphere's Blood Island pictures, though the classic Brain of Blood was still to come in 1972, directed by B-movie master Al Adamson. This is by far the weakest of the trilogy, and as a standalone piece, certainly the oddest in terms of pacing and action. Yet as a part of the whole Blood Island experience, and what would prove to be its swan song, it has decidedly more character development than its predecessors, thanks in part to director Eddie Romero, who generally gave his films more dramatic depth than was really typical of the genre.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The 1.33:1 transfer from Image has seen better days, and contains a steady dose of nicks and scratches. Black levels are awful, rendering most of the night scenes largely as a dark mess. Daylight scenes fare somewhat better, with a palette of slightly faded colors.

Image Transfer Grade: C

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: A fair amount of hiss is evident on this English mono track, but the bulk of the presentation is relatively clean. Dialogue is understandable, though when any loud sounds occur there is a tendency for brief distortion. Even with its flaws, this is typical of a late 1960s/early 1970s low-budget B-horror film, and perfectly adequate.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 11 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
0 Other Trailer(s) featuring Mad Doctor of Blood Island, Brides of Blood, Brain of Blood, Blood of the Vampires, The Blood Drinkers, Raiders of the Living Dead, Horror of the Blood Monsters
1 Deleted Scenes
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Sam Sherman
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Beast of Blood Essay
  2. Blood Island Still Gallery
Extras Review: Producer Sam Sherman continues his expansive history of Hemisphere Pictures on this disc, with an occasionally scene-specific commentary (53m:11s). Sherman doesn't dwell on onscreen content much, but rather gives an incredibly in-depth look at the world of B-movie making in the 1960s. Image has cleverly split Sherman's entire commentary track across six films in the so-called Blood Series, and though the tracks fall short of the feature's runtime, they are chock full of great background material. Sherman avoids too much pomposity, and manages to convey his involvement with something just short of a fan's awe.

Sherman conducts an Interview With Celeste Yarnall (09m:18s), which was recorded at the Chiller Theater Expo 2000 in Secaucus, New Jersey. Yarnall is absolutely charming, and in the brief segment recalls a few tidbits about the making of Beast of Blood, including the fact that she had just found out she was pregnant prior to shooting. The footage is not lit very well, but the content is excellent.

The same Eddie Romero interview (17m:02s) from 2001 that appeared on Mad Doctor of Blood Island and Blood of the Vampires appears here (as it does on most of the entries in the Blood series, by the way). A jovial Romero describes how he came to work for Hemisphere Pictures, and his fondness for his horror work is quite evident. It's just a shame that the same interview is tagged on so many discs, especially when the Sherman commentary almost requires purchasing the other films in the series.

An excellent 8-screen essay by Christopher William Koenig about Beast of Blood and the 2-page insert from Jim Arena provide a wealth of background on the film, the series and the whole Hemisphere catalog. The automated Blood Island Still Gallery, made up of 50 images from the series, is fun to peek at once, but the same set of stills also appears on Blood of the Vampires, as well.

A lost scene (02m:55s) replaces the animated opening used in the film with additional footage shot by Romero, and is likely to be unremarkable except to the most ardent Blood fans. A full batch of Blood trailers, along with a House of Terror Live Horror show promo wraps up the extras.

The disc is cut into a meager 11 chapters, and features no subtitles.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Not as satisfying as Mad Doctor of Blood Island, this final installment in the Blood Island series dares to give audiences a different actor playing the nasty Dr. Lorca, in addition to downplaying the horror in favor of more traditional jungle adventure.

The disc itself, though, is as nicely packaged as any of the others in Image's Blood Collection, and Sam Sherman's in-depth commentary, which looks at the world of Hemisphere Pictures, is a must for any genre fan.

 


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