31 Days of Spooky Stuff continues with an installment full of witches and whiskers. Today, we look at two classics of horror cinema, both of whom came from overseas and revolutionized the genre in their home countries.
The Best – Reserved for the absolute cream of the crop.
Highly Recommended – Very good. Far better than your typical film and one that I will remember for some time.
Recommended – Just what it says. This is a good film and earns a recommendation. Don’t think that because it’s not one of the top two categories that these films aren’t worth your time. The “recommended” tag is a winner and nothing to sneer at.
Barely Recommended – The middle of the road. Those films where I didn’t feel it was a complete waste of time, but it didn’t set my world on fire either. Not bad, but leaves me feeling bored and/or apathetic.
Disappointing – Close but no cigar. Does a few things right but is ultimately a whole lot of wasted potential. Not recommended.
Awful – A bad movie. Pure and simple. Not worth your time.
The Worst – The Britta Perry of ratings, though not as entertaining. The bottom of the barrel.
What was the film trying to accomplish and how well did it meet those goals?
In addition to (or sometimes despite) that, how does the film hold up on sheer entertainment value?
FILM GEEK JOURNAL – ENTRY 71
(31 DAYS OF SPOOKY STUFF – DAY 8 – OCT. 8, 2013)
TERROR IS A MAN (a.k.a. BLOOD CREATURE, THE CREATURE FROM BLOOD ISLAND) (1959) – Will Fitzgerald is shipwrecked on an island, where he is nursed back to health by Dr. Girard and his assistants. He is told that the people of the island are superstitious and soon, the islanders seem to have deserted their homes in fright. That’s because Dr. Girard is conducting some very strange experiments, blending human and animal DNA together. One of his creations keeps escaping and succumbing to his animal instincts, tears into anyone who gets in his way.
This takeoff on H.G. Welles’ ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU is often credited with being one of the films to give birth to the Filipino exploitation film on an international scale. It’s easy to see why. The film is loads of fun, with all the conceits of the genre that horror fans like myself clamor for. The American cut even featured a William Castle-like conceit in which a warning bell sounded before some pretty gristly surgery footage and then again when it was safe to look again (as if anyone really looked away). This film is directed by Gerado de Leon who later did some of the BLOOD ISLAND island films with Eddie Romero. Though not always counted as such, TERROR IS A MAN is certainly a precursor to those films.
TERROR IS A MAN is also really well put together, with several eerie bits that make this something to seek out for late night viewing. De Leon also does a good job of eliciting sympathy for the monster. And I’m saying this with the full knowledge that the monster of the film looks just as likely to chow down on some Meow Mix as it would the village locals. Definitely worth checking out and now you can. The YouTube video is the complete film. Highly Recommended.
BLACK SUNDAY (a.k.a. THE MASK OF SATAN, LA MASCHERA DEL DEMONIO) (1960) – The evil witch Asa (Barbara Steel) and her lover Javuto are graphically put to death for communing with the Devil and terrorizing the countryside. Before she is killed, she swears vengeance on her own brother who is serving as executioner. She curses his family line and vows to return to the world of the living one day. Centuries later, in a bizarre set of circumstances, Asa is indeed freed from her undead prison with the blooodlust of a vampire. She makes good on her promise and hopes to fully return to the world of the living to commit her crimes. Her target is her descendant Katia, who is her mirror image.
I have said so much about this film over the years, I don’t know where else to go. Unlike many of my other old reviews, I’ve reread what I wrote for the Horror Express website around ten years back and honestly, didn’t hate it. It’s also a chance for me to alert people to the website I used a edit years ago. I don’t write for them anymore, but they still do good work. Great layout too. So, go take a look. The Best.
Number of films covered in the Journal so far: 304
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