Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Thousand Frightening Dreams

If you love naked Filipino women, inept makeup effects, and the wide sideburns of John Ashley, MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND is for you.

Produced in Manila as a loose follow-up to BRIDES OF BLOOD, the movie is probably best known for its precredit sequence that invites the kids in the audience to take the “Oath of the Green Blood.” Hemisphere Pictures had theaters pass out small packets of “green blood” for the kids to drink during the sequence, which was directed by Romero. Sam Sherman, who wrote the opening just before starting his own company, Independent International, claims to have drunk one and become wildly ill.

BEACH BLANKET BINGO co-star Ashley plays Dr. Bill Foster, a U.S. government agent sent to Blood Island to investigate sightings of green-skinned villagers dripping green blood. Along for the ride is Sheila Willard (Angelique Pettyjohn, best known as the stacked blonde whom Captain Kirk taught to kiss in "The Gamesters of Triskelion"), ostensibly visiting her alcoholic long-lost father, but in actuality there to scream, get kidnapped, and have sex with John Ashley. The role consists of little more than that.

Foster discovers natives are suffering from “chlorophyll poisoning,” which resident scientist Lorca (Ronald Remy) treats with a sedative, hot soup, and “no green vegetables, of course.” Assisted by Carlos (Ronaldo Valdez), whose mother remained on Blood Island after the death of his father, and scantily clad native girl Marla (Alicia Alonzo), Foster determines Lorca’s experiments in curing leukemia by injecting chlorophyll into his patients is actually turning them into hideous, green-blooded mutants.

One of many crudely filmed Philippines-based horror films starring Midwesterner Ashley, who would also produce many of them, MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND is audacious, ridiculous entertainment. The direction by Gerardo de Leon and Eddie Romero consists mainly of unconvincing day-for-night photography and headache-inducing zooms whenever someone is being attacked by the monster (probably to disguise the silly makeup). This approach doesn’t really work, and neither does the romance between Carlos and Marla, even though Alonzo is an extremely sensual actress.

Thankfully, the sleaze factor is high. Before the credits even roll, a naked girl runs through the jungle and is slaughtered by the zoom-hidden creature. The monster literally tears its victims apart, tossing around heads and limbs. The camera lingers on blood-drenched corpses with intestines hanging out. Ashley manages to hold on to his dignity by being likable and convincing in his weakly choreographed fight scenes, as well as a graphic sex scene with Pettyjohn, who later did adult films using the name Heaven St. John. Ashley returned for a direct Hemisphere sequel, BEAST OF BLOOD, which begins exactly where MAD DOCTOR left off.

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