Image Entertainment presents
Blood of the Vampires (Curse of the Vampires) (1971)
"What is the coffin for, papa? Whose is it?"- Eduardo (Eddie Garcia)
Stars: Eddie Garcia, Amalia Fuentes
Other Stars: Romeo Vasquez, Mary Walter
Director: Gerardo DeLeon
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (horror violence)
Run Time: 01h:22m:05s
Release Date: 2002-11-05
DVD ReviewThe 1971 release Blood of the Vampires (or Curse of the Vampires as it was also known) was part of the Hemisphere Pictures series of Philippine-made Blood films, and has been re-issued here as part of Image's exemplary Blood Collection. This particular entry found itself paired with another Hemisphere title, Beast of Blood, when it first hit the drive-in circuit, where low-budget horror films like this really flourished. Blood of the Vampires was vaguely alluded to as a sequel to the immensely popular The Blood Drinkers, which starred Ronald Remy, who also delivered an especially memorable performance as the twisted Dr. Lorca in another Hemisphere classic, Mad Doctor of Blood Island.
While many of the Hemisphere Blood pictures concerned zombies, this time around director Gerry DeLeon (The Blood Drinkers, Brides of Blood) created a bit of Hammer-influenced Philippine-style gothic horror, full of ever present ground fog, dimly lit dungeons, mysterious family secrets, and of course, vampires. After returning to their family estate, brother and sister Eduardo (Eddie Garcia) and Leonor (Amalia Fuentes) learn that their seemingly demented pop has their recently dead mother (Mary Walter) locked up in a cavernous dungeon. Turns out that their dear sweet mother is also a ravenous vampire, and it's not long before the family curse infects Eduardo, who is suddenly sporting a mouthful of sharp fangs and has developed a particularly nasty attitude toward the living.
If you take away some of rudimentary B-movie dumbness (like the black-faced Filipinos portraying the servants) this is serious gothic vampire territory, made especially strong by Garcia's Eduardo and his well-mixed blend of angst, revulsion and horror as the tormented lead. Garcia, who was something of a Philippine acting legend, had the misfortune of replacing Ronald Remy as Dr.Lorca in Beast of Blood (the sequel to Mad Doctor of Blood Island), and his performance there could never really achieve the same degree of nastiness that Remy exuded in the role. In Blood of the Vampires, however, Garcia really gives a terrific performance that will make you forget all about his turn as Lorca; it's ironic to note that Remy starred in The Blood Drinkers, of which this film is allegedly a sequel. Or, maybe I'm the only who is fascinated by that.
What makes a film like Blood of the Vampires so unique is the strange yet very familiar genre-friendly gothic tone that DeLeon creates, despite that it was set in the jungles of the Philippines. A film like this could easily have been made in England as part of the Hammer empire, but DeLeon never achieved that level of notoriety. He is one of those low-budget horror directors who never quite got the name recognition that he deserved, and his solo work, as well as his projects with Eddie Romero, still stand as some of the better B-movie horror of the late 1960s and early '70s.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||no|
Image Transfer Review: Presented in 1.33:1 fullframe, Image's transfer of DeLeon's film is littered with a large amount of dirt and blemishes, though it was struck from an original negative. The ravages of time haven't been overly kind to this one, but in general this film has held up rather well. The numerous night scenes suffer some rather poor image detail, colors are noticeably faded, and fleshtones often take on a weird reddish hue. On the contrary, a number of scenes with Amalia Fuentes look exceptional, but these don't represent the bulk of the image transfer.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The English dub on this film is presented in mono, and voices tend to distort a bit, which makes large passages of the film sound rather harsh. Hiss is minimal, and understanding dialogue was never particularly problematic.
Audio Transfer Grade: C+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 11 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring Mad Doctor of Blood Island, Brides of Blood, Beast of Blood, Brain of Blood, The Blood Drinkers, Raiders of the Living Dead, Horror of the Blood Monsters
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Sam Sherman
- Blood Still Gallery
The same Eddie Romero interview (17m:02s) that appears on a number of other Blood titles also shows up here, and if you haven't seen it, you should. In the space of 17 minutes the likeable Romero traces his roots up through his work on the various Blood films for Hemisphere. An automated Blood Still Gallery of about 50 images is included, along with a full batch of Blood trailers. A 3-page insert booklet by Jim Arena, another staple of Image's Blood titles, offers a nice background on Blood of the Vampires.
The disc is cut into 11 chapters, and features no subtitles.
Extras Grade: B
Final CommentsBlood of the Vampires is bloodsucking Philippine-style, and it is as darkly gothic as any Hammer creation. DeLeon even manages to tack on a wonderfully bittersweet ending that delivers a more fitting conclusion than is usually found in genre films.
As with the other films in Image's Blood Collection, the commentary track from producer Sam Sherman continues the history of Hemisphere Pictures, and is well worth a listen.
Rich Rosell 2002-12-11