Eddie Romero’s Beast of Blood, aka Blood Devils, is the third and final film in the Filipino director’s “Blood Island” saga. Not having seen the first two, I felt a tad lost and confused – a feeling not dissimilar to delving straight into the “Antigone” portion of Sophocles’ Oedipus cycle.
The film begins mere minutes after the prior film ended, with a Wally Cleaver looking fella staring pensively as his boat drifts away from an island while ukulele music wafts gently over the soundtrack. This postcard perfect scene of tranquility is suddenly torn asunder when a hideous beast climbs aboard, massacres everybody on the ship and ‘splodes it real good. And all this in the first two minutes!
“Man, am I in for a treat” I thought. Turns out the opening is a bigger fake-out than Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone’s vault. The rest of the film is truly nothing but tedious exposition and aimless exploring. Honestly, a 10k marathon for seniors would have less glacially paced walking than this flick.
Post credits, Wally –sorry, Dr. Foster- returns to the island on a ship manned by a captain who looks and sounds like an inebriated Alan Hale. The only other passenger is Myra, a snoopy reporter from some Hawaiian newspaper. Despite holding a doctorate (in what is never made clear), Myra is prone to speaking in the cadence of a Greenwich Village beat, uttering such bon mots as “This cloak and dagger bit just ain’t your bag.”
They arrive at the island and are greeted by a less than enthusiastic reception from the Polynesian natives, none-too-pleased about the events that transpired the last time Dr. Foster set foot. Quick as kick sticks, Lorna is kidnapped by a gang of thugs who work for the nefarious (I’m now madder than ever!) Dr. Lorca. Cue the rescue mission!
Apparently, the maniacal mangler we saw at the beginning was once Dr. Ramon, now dubbed “the Chlorophyll Monster.” It appears that Ramon did not escape from the explosion unscathed as his headless body now lays on a table in Dr. Lorca’s lab while his head sits in a giant Petri dish.
Dr. Foster stumbles upon Dr. Lorca’s compound, and Lorca does what any megalomaniacal villain does, namely invite his nemesis in for some dinner and sparkling conversation, all to spout off incessantly about his hackneyed scheme for world domination which in this case involves some nonsense about reattaching Ramon’s head which would cause something else to transpire. I tried to understand – I really did – but I just couldn’t. And neither could Dr. Foster judging by the pained expression on his face.
Things finally pick up in the last ten minutes when Dr. Foster and the island’s natives engage in some good old fashioned jungle action. The natives, who formerly only knew how to threw spears, lay waste to the compound using submachine guns and grenades. Ramon’s headless body contributes to the carnage by destroying the evil doctor’s lab. The compound burns as Ramon’s severed head cackles maniacally.
Beast of Blood, to put it bluntly, sucks. The first two minutes are great as are the last ten. It’s all that in between that’s a bit of a problem.
*(out of five)