Written by: John White on December 19th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Philippines, 1973
Director: Eddie Romero
Cast: John Ashley, Pat Woodell, Jan Merlin, Charles Macaulay, Pam Grier
DVD released: September 1, 2004
Approximate running time: 80 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: VCI
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $9.99
Top hunter and explorer Matt Farrell (Ashley) is kidnapped whilst skin-diving and taken under duress to a remote island. Once at the island he notices strange creatures in the jungle and is introduced to Dr Gordon (Macaulay) and his beautiful daughter (Woodell). Gordon tells him that he wants to use Farrell in his experiments to produce superbeings. Unsurprisingly Farrell considers escape and is taunted to by Gordon’s henchman. Whilst on the loose Farrell comes across Gordon carrying out an experiment which involves removing a live brain. Farrell convinces Gordon’s daughter to escape with him. They free the results of Gordon’s experiments – an Ape man, a Panther woman and a man crossed with a bat. Can they escape?
Basically a retread of HG Wells “The Island of Dr Moreau”, this is a cheap exploitationer filmed in the Philippines by Eddie Romero. It does have some good special effects and excellent make-up – Gordon’s mistakes include human beings crossed with Apes, Bats and even a Panther. The Panther is a non-speaking role for Pam Grier which involves her savaging everyone in sight and showing the butt kicking prowess that was to make her a success in future films.
The story is given some interesting twists: the Ape man gets a little too interested in Gordon’s daughter, and the head henchman is explicitly driven by his own repressed homosexuality. Ashley is hunky and sympathetic and in the end we are pulling for him. The cast are all committed and the technique in editing and shooting are more than competent.
This is fun and not to be taken too seriously. The film does feel like some scenes are missing so I wonder whether the narrative would work better with added scenes. Still, a good night in monster movie.
On an additional note, fans of the BBC quiz show Mastermind will find some odd musical choices here!
The film is presented in 4:3 and for a knock-off movie it is in good condition. The print does show its age in outdoor sequences and at night but it is always acceptable.
The sound is dull but given the source you can’t imagine it would be any better than this. In addition the disc carries trailers for other VCI releases like Bird With The Crystal Plumage and Blood and Black Lace. Also included are biographies of Ashley, Grier and Romero.
The disc is very cheap and as good a release as I can imagine this film getting. If you like a bit of monster madness then this is a good rent.