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  • GroovyDoom21 October 2002
    Warning: Spoilers
    For all fans of late-night TV and drive-in movies, "Twilight People" is a real joy to behold. It's the kind of movie you remember watching on an independent local TV station at 11pm (when 11pm was really late to be awake). Or else maybe you caught movies like "Twilight People" at the drive-in, probably playing second on the bill, and were amused by its low-budget Halloween-costume charms.

    Anybody else is going to think this movie sucks.

    Technically it does, on every level of imagination. The script is as bad as a script about half human-half animal mutations can get. As previously mentioned by another reviewer, this movie passes itself off as a cross between "Island of Lost Souls" and "The Most Dangerous Game". Actually it's more like a low-rent version of "Island of Dr. Moreau", although that film wasn't made until several years after this one (and with similarly laughable results, as well).

    But for all its shortcomings, "Twilight People" has a real sense of fun. I think anyone who was waiting for some believeable special effects was in the wrong place to being with. What the movie has going for it is an authentic feel of bonafide 70s drive-in delirium.

    Our hero is John Ashley, veteran of classic drive-in trash like the "Blood Island" movies. Here he plays Matt Farrell, not to be confused with the 'Jim Farrell' character from "Brides of Blood". Matt Farrell is apparently a noted adventurer who attracts the attention of our resident mad doctor, Dr. Gordon. Farrell is kidnapped and taken to Gordon's secluded isla, where he is to be used as a brain-transplant donor for Gordon's quintet of genetic freaks. The 'monsters' include a Bat Man, Antelope Man, Wolf Woman, Ape Man, and none other than Pam Grier as the "Panther Woman".

    Of course what would a trashy 70s flick be without sex, and there is plenty of sexual tension on this island, in the most surprising places. The doctor's daughter (who is conveniently beautiful in a 70s kind of way) is ripe for the picking, and Farrell is just the kind of stud to show her what a real man is. But Steinman, the Doc's hired goon, has designs of his own...he wants Farrell for himself! No kidding. Neva and Steinman even have a catfight over Farrell in one of the movie's best scenes. OK, Steinman wants Farrell so he can hunt him down and KILL him...but there's a definite undercurrent of lust in his lines with Farrell, from the minute they snatch him from his skin dive in the movie's opening scene.

    But no matter. Farrell only has eyes for Neva, and fortunately she chooses the moment of Farrell's arrival to turn against her father and run off with the freaks. It's at this point where the movie starts to veer off into the truly bizarre. We have a romance that develops between Antelope Man and Wolf Woman. We get to see Pam Grier rolling around on the ground and purring after a meal. And wow...that Bat Man is not to be missed. After a few failed attempts at flight, he really gets going by the time the movie's climax rolls around. And that's not even mentioning the 'surprise' mutation that crops up during the finale (if you can't figure it out ahead of time, you weren't really paying attention).

    I especially loved the sequence where the Panther Woman takes out a few of Gordon's henchmen, then suddenly turns on her own kind and tries to kill Antelope Man for no apparent reason. The animal people are mostly identifiable by the familiar animal-sounds on the soundtrack (the Wolf Woman's canine utterings are priceless), although I have to admit the Ape Man was more than a little disappointing (not to mention confusing), especially when he tries to rape the suddenly good-hearted Neva.

    The movie's big finish is also a little bit of a letdown, especially the unresolved tension between Steinman and Farrell. I was just a bit confused about their final scene---you'll know what I mean if you're adventurous enough to actually watch "Twilight People".

    Technically everything is done on the cheap, but since there was obviously such a low budget, I'm impressed that they managed to pull off the nice touches of the movie. I liked the sets they used for the interiors of Gordon's mansion, especially the dungeon and the prerequisite "secret passageway". I've never seen a more blatant disregard for continuity in regards to day-for-night filming, except maybe in "The Eye Creatures" (which, ironically, also featured John Ashley). Obviously sunny days are the background for scenes that are supposed to be taking place in the dead of night, like Farrell's escape from the mansion.

    There's also some amusing comic-book lighting going on here. Much of the interior scenes are tinged with red and green lights, and a few scenes in the laboratory feature a multi-domed contraption that houses orange brains underneath yellow plastic.

    The makeup of the animal people is so hokey that you can't help but be amused by it, and the performances are alternately zombified and deliciously over-the-top. Although it's obvious that nobody thought they were making great art with "Twilight People", they may have been aiming for B-movie greatness, and this movie has drive-in appeal in spades.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There are movies whose sole saving grace (if it can even be called that- see MARK OF THE DEVIL to find out what I mean) is a single scene (or, in this case, a couple of short sequences). For me, the highlights of THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE are the shots where the bat man takes flight. They're brief, but they're there: the guy swoops down out of a tree, flapping his arms for all he's worth, and glides past overhead; arms still flapping, he comes sailing along a trail in a sequence that's actually surprisingly well done; and, the camera ostensibly mounted on his back, gives chase to a group of men on foot who're hoofing it for all they're worth (their heads twisted around to stare up in horror at him even as they run). These scenes made the film (for me, as a kid) worth seeing. Sort of. Like INVASION OF THE BAT PEOPLE- which had but a single close-up of the sole bat person (and one bat person does not an invasion make, if you follow me drift). If you're one of those die-hards who needs to see it all just so you can say you did, or one of those of us who wades through the dreck to find the single, solitary rose, check out THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE.
  • I thought this film was fun. It's astounding to see Pam Grier as Panther Woman when you're used to seeing her all glammed up and gorgeous. The noises her character makes I'm sure aren't her, but they are still great noises. I wonder if they actually recorded a real panther snarling.

    People say that the makeup is really bad, but I thought it was really good. At least on the faces it was good. The rest of the body was pretty bad. For example, a wolf girl who is totally hairy all over her head and face, but has no hair anywhere else. The same goes for the ape man. I guess the costume designers were trying to show that they were actually half human/half beast. But it still looked a little hokey. Especially seeing Bat Man's wings were only attached to him at his shoulders and not anywhere on his sides or armpits. How does that work? I never took physics, but that just doesn't make sense.

    The plot is pretty good, not too dull. I liked the first scene when the man is skin diving and gets reeled up by the ankles. It looks like it would have hurt a lot! It's not like he was wearing socks or anything.

    I thought the militant, creepy, macho guy was a good character, especially since they hinted at him being attracted to men. The man appears to be incredibly masculine and macho, but he can't hide his attraction to men, though he denies it. I thought his character was a good stray from the stereotypical gay man. Why not have a gay character be ultra masculine for a change? Crush the stereotypes, I say. And did you see how straight and white his teeth were? Wow, that actor should have been in a Colgate commercial!

    The daughter character sure gets thrown around a lot. It seems everyone wants to push her around. She's so skinny and frail, I was surprised she didn't get hurt more often. She had a cool face, though. Mysterious, pale with dark features. Not the best actress or character, but she had really nice hair, if that makes a difference...

    Really the best parts of the movie begin well over half-way through it. You get to see the animal-people come out and strut their stuff. How the daughter isn't freaked out by these monsters, I don't know. I'd have been running through that jungle the second Pam Grier gave her first howl. Those beasts were pretty freaky looking! Plus, how often do antelope actually LIKE wolves? In reality, wolves eat antelope, don't they? All it takes is a little human blood to get those primal enemy feelings to go away, right?

    If you want to see this movie, just fast forward through the first 45-55 minutes. It's not worth it. You'll be better off watching the last half hour and nothing else. Ape Man's disjointed moves and Panther Woman's licks and howls will be all you need to get this films best features.
  • In case you haven't gotten your fill of bad "Island Of Lost Soul" remakes, there is this beauty. Producer writer John Ashley, a long way from Frankie, Annette, and the rest of the gang, is the hero who is kidnapped and taken to an Island where a mad doctor does mutation experiments; with a little "most dangerous game" rip off thrown in.

    This must have been enough to make him miss Eric Von Zipper. Pat Codell, from Pennycoat Junction, shows some real charm in rolling with the punches, the poor thing quit the biz soon afterwards. And you get an early appearance of Pam Grier, and a flying batman livens things up a bit. Mostly however, this is for hard core bad movie fans only.
  • Successful adventurer Matt Farrell (John Ashley) is kidnapped whilst on a dive by sadistic hunter Steinman (Jan Merlin), who takes him to a mysterious island dominated by the insane Dr. Gordon (Charles Macaulay). Gordon has been doing experiments on the native locals and cross-bred them with certain animals in an attempt to create a great army, and sees Farrell as a suitable addition to his grisly bunch. After escaping with Gordon's daughter Neva (Pat Woodell) and all the human-animal hybrids, Steinman pursues them in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse.

    As far as re-makes/re-imaginings of the hugely influential Island of Lost Souls (1932) go, The Twilight People certainly isn't the worst. Choked with massive budget limitations that naturally leads to terrible acting and worse make-up, this Grindhouse effort certainly has it's charms. It is, of course, f*****g awful, but there is a bit of spirit amongst the cast, and plenty of laugh-at-the-s**t-make-up moments. The creatures, which include an Antelope Man, an Ape Man, a Wolf Woman, and most hilariously, a Bat Man, are so ridiculous looking that I could scarcely believe that the actors behind them managed to keep a straight face throughout the film. It does, however, have Pam Grier as the Panther Woman (made famous by Kathleen Burke from the 1932 original), and seeing her rip her way through a number of Gordon's henchman is certainly worth your time.

    But the on-the-run second half of the film repeatedly stalls and ultimately bores, as the film seems to be wind down the proceedings in order to sustain an acceptable running time. It is also quite tame as far as low-budget monster movies go, but I have to admit that it added to it's almost innocent charm. The ending, which doesn't really wrap anything up, ends abruptly when I was expecting and almost hoping for five minutes more. To summarise then, certainly worth a watch if you like your movies trashy, cheap, and easy to watch, but a meandering and ridiculous film overall. Though I would recommend a watch simply for the Bat Man, paper wings and all.

    www.the-wrath-of-blog.blogspot.com
  • It's hard to imagine a world where all the stations you could watch would 'end their broadcast day' if you're too young to have lived it. That's the world where this movie was great as a late-night treat that aired very rarely. I only saw it the one time and forget the story completely but its images remain in my memory. I knew it was a cheap, bad movie when I was watching but my reaction ranged from bored to bemused to fascinated. Additionslly, there was invoked a sweet nostalgia from seeing John Ashley headlining a movie. I'd watched that guy battle mostly black and white monsters since I was 8 years old. I saw this movie when I was 26.

    It's a new world now and there's no reason to recommend this movie anymore. But I liked it and would sit through it again.
  • Plan 9 From Outer Space is generally considered to be the worst film of all time. I contend that the people voting have not seen Twilight People. It's basically The Island of Dr Moreau without a budget. In this version of the story, I believe the Doctor is doing his genetic engineering for the Third Reich, as he and his assistant/security guy are Nazis. The half man/half animal creatures are bizarre. There is a bat man, an antelope man, and even a mole woman. I had nightmares about this flick for years (not because it was scary) until I found it on video and re-lived the horror of one of the most awful films of all time. The acting is bad. The writing is bad. The costumes are bad. This is a bad movie.
  • B movie perennial John Ashley stars as Matt Farrell, a diver / "renaissance man" who is kidnapped by thugs and taken to an isolated tropical island. Said thugs represent a mad scientist named Dr. Gordon (Charles Macaulay), whose experiments have involved turning people into half-human / half-animal aberrations. Matt falls in lust with the doctors' sexy daughter Neva (Pat Woodell), who sympathizes with him and the doctors' other "subjects". So she helps them to escape.

    This escape takes up quite a bit of the rather brief running time of 81 minutes, but instead of ramping up the tension and sense of urgency, things start to meander too much. Obviously nobody is in a big hurry here, including the filmmakers.

    This was the second unofficial Filipino adaptation of "Island of Dr. Moreau", after the 1959 feature "Terror is a Man" (a.k.a. "The Blood Creature"). That fact becomes easy to understand very quickly, and the material still has a compelling nature, but the film is rather underwhelming, with a script (co-written by director Eddie Romero) that isn't all that hot. The creature makeup is adequate at best; we've seen better work in other, official versions of the H.G. Wells tale. The location shooting is fine, and the film does possess that great atmosphere common to other Filipino genre & exploitation features. While it is mostly played straight, there is some comedy relief from a "bat man" (Tony Gosalvez) who tries in vain to fly. There's even some "romance" between the "antelope man" (Ken Metcalfe) and "wolf woman" (Mona Morena). The score is a mixture of stock music and new compositions by Tito Arevalo & Ariston Avelino.

    The performances, much like the makeup, are very much adequate - no more - across the board. The main attraction for a number of people will undoubtedly be the prospect of Pam Grier playing one of the creatures, the feral "panther woman". One undeniable standout is the very amusing Jan Merlin as Steinman, Dr. Gordons' main henchman. Often seen smiling, he cheerfully encourages Farrell to escape, while having his own motivation for this attitude towards the prisoner.

    Watchable, but only really worth recommending to die hard devotees of Filipino B cinema.

    Six out of 10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Diver Matt Farrell (John Ashley in sturdy macho form) gets abducted by mad scientist Dr. Gordon (a nicely sinister portrayal by Charles Macauley), who wants to create a race of genetically superior beings. Farrell joins forces with Gordon's daughter Neva (the comely and appealing Pat Woodell) and the doctor's grotesque half-man, half-animal hybrid creatures in order to escape from Gordon's evil clutches.

    Handled with jaw-dropping seriousness by Filipino trashmeister supreme Eddie Romero, this gloriously ludicrous howler offers a hysterical wealth of deliciously cheesy delights: We've got a doomed would-be poignant romance between the wolf woman and the antelope man, Jan Merlin camping it up as sadistic flunky Steinman, an amorous apeman who tries to force himself on Neva, funky-groovy music that sticks out like a sore thumb, 70's blaxploitation goddess Pam Grier as the ferocious panther woman, and, best of all, a ridiculous batman beast complete with big bushy sideburns who even flies thanks to some shoddy (far from) special effects. Fredy Conde's lush color cinematography makes the most out of the breathtaking tropical scenery. An absolute schlocky hoot.
  • From director Eddie Romero (AKA Enrique Moreno), the Filipino exploitation filmmaker behind jungle classics like "Black Mama White Mama" and "Savage Sisters" comes this very silly, but very entertaining ripoff of H.G. Wells' "The Island of Dr. Moreau." A scuba diver is snatched out of the water and and finds himself on an island where a mad scientist has created monstrous half-man/half-animal creatures. The Moreau figure rules over his beasts with an iron fist, and as you'd expect, they rebel against him in a violent bloody fashion. It's all amateurishly made and certainly made on the cheap, but it is entertaining. To add to the enjoyment level of this nonsense is Pam Grier in a before-she-was-famous role as the "Panther Woman." Certainly not a good film, but I was entertained.
  • ah-11324 January 2015
    This film must be be seen before one is entitled to call any other film bad, it truly sets the baseline for bad films. Undoubtedly the worst film of all time (as of 24/01/2015) it makes all previous contenders for the title shine. The costumes are cruddy, the dialogue dreadful, the plot pathetic and the acting abysmal. When we sat down to watch this film we were genuinely appalled, it was so bad we were even unable to find it comically bad.

    Seeing a film this bad has given me a better appreciation of other films to which I had previously given insufficient credit. So before you dare to slate any film you must first see this one. It ought to be obligatory viewing for any critic before they are allowed to criticise anything about any other film

    As a teenager, talking with a film buff friend, I once declared a film we watched to be utter rubbish, he defended the film declaring that I had not seen enough films to know a bad one when I saw it; now I have.
  • To his Family, and Fans: I met Mr. Ashley in Hollywood 1971-72, not sure. I was totally impressed with him. A beautiful man and gentleman. I thoroughly enjoyed my meeting with him. He introduced me to Robert Conrad and I was blown away. Talk about beautiful men in my company.

    Just want to say after after 40 years my heart still remembers John in a positive way. He, to me was a wonderful actor/person/father. I treasure my memories of him.

    I just wish we could have met again, just for old times (whatever that means), I hear that phrase all the time so thought it was appropriate, excuse me for being so dramatic! The shock came when I learned he passed in 1997 on the set of Scared City in New York. I was devastated . . . John was to live forever.

    All good things do come to an end, and this was definitely one of those good things. John was the epitome of success, talent, and fortitude. He was brilliant as an actor, and stunning as an individual.

    To his family: Bless you for being a part of this wonderful human being: Entertainer, Singer, Actor, Husband, Father. Truly a God Send to all of us to learn from.

    Your Friend, Rita
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Back in the 70s director Eddie Romero made a number of horror films in his native country of the Philippines. They had a few things in common other than the location they were shot. They were all incredibly low budget movies. Almost all of them starred John Ashley as their leading man. Most played on double bills at drive-ins across the country. And some of them were actually pretty good.

    One of those movies was TWILIGHT PEOPLE. I can remember the first time I saw this movie. It was the opening film at the drive-in nearby that showed before the main feature THE DEVIL'S RAIN back in 1975. For some reason I either didn't have my license yet or a car and my friend, his mom and his aunt and I all went to see these two. I remember thinking it wasn't a bad movie. Since then I've had the chance to watch it, more often than not on some obscure Roku channel and not in the best shape. So when I heard VCI was going to release the film on blu-ray I was excited to hear it.

    Heavy duty plots were never the greatest in these films. This time around adventurer Matt Farrell (Ashley) is taken captive on the high seas by a group of henchmen led by Steinman (Jan Merlin), a pure blooded Nazi Aryan if there ever was one. In charge of kidnapping is Neva Gordon (Pat Woodell).

    Farrell is taken to a remote island in the Pacific where Steinman and Gordon march him to a castle while a watchful unseen presence keeps an eye on them from the jungle. Farrell is now the "guest" of mad scientist Dr. Gordon (Charles Macaulay), the father of Neva. He has plans for Farrell which can't be good but he doesn't provide details, merely talking about how he will make history and that he is the perfect specimen. Steinman would rather Farrell attempt an escape so he could hunt him down, his favorite past time.

    Farrell begins to investigate what's happening on the island and soon discovers that Dr. Gordon is creating a new species of man, a hybrid crossing various animals with human beings. An equal opportunist Dr. Gordon has transformed men and women both. On a side note and of particular interest is the fact that Ayesa the Panther Woman is played by none other than Pam Grier who later went on to fame in a number of higher profile films as well as several Blaxploitation films.

    It doesn't take long for Neva to fall in love with Farrell and attempt to stop her father from his plans to use him in his experiments. She drugs Steinman, releases Farrell from the cage he was placed in as well as the other hybrids and they head out to escape. When Steinman wakes he's glad for the opportunity he wanted all along, to track down and kill a worthy opponent.

    Made in 1972 the movie didn't have access to the CGI created monsters it would have had today. Instead it relies on practical effects and full on special effects make-up for each creature. Doing so on a miniscule budget you would think the end results would reek but in fact they're actually pretty good. Some are better than others. The standout is that of the bat-man hybrid, a full grown man with wings attached between his arms and body. He's shown flying towards the end of the film and it actually looks fairly decent.

    As I said before the script was never the biggest item worked on with these films. That being said they don't fall over the Ed Wood cliff and at least sound like conversations real people might actually have. Ashley does a fine job here though most of his role is to simply play the part of a handsome hero. Woodell is attractive and makes her part believable as well. And Merlin as Steinman is particularly villainous as he threatens Ashley.

    The movie was made for just $150,000 and there is little doubt that it made its cost back and more. It played on double and triple bills at drive-ins for years. The fact I saw it my first time three years after it was released shows that. But the film really doesn't have as low budget a feel about it as you would expect. Yes it's a bit cheezy at times but it's a fun movie as well.

    VCI has released the film before but this is the first time I've seen it released in blu-ray format. They're known for these forgotten treasures of the past and they've done well with this one. The picture is the cleanest I've seen and the sound well maintained. This version has been remastered to a 2K version from the original 35mm negative in widescreen. They're including several nice extras as well here with a full commentary track with film historian Toby Roan, a near hour long interview with director Eddie Romero and the original theatrical trailer.

    This is not the cream of the crop in horror movies but it never claims to be. What it does claim to be is a nice little horror film, a PG rated romp with a little bit of blood and a lot of ingenuity. For me after all these years I found it to still be an entertaining movie that I know I'll probably go back and watch again. Leave your expectations at the door and my guess is you'll have fun with it as well.
  • Pretty damn boring, if this movie is any indication! The only reasons to see this movie are the goofy bat-man (in a memorable flying sequence) and the goddess herself, Pam Grier, as a laughable panther-woman. Otherwise, avoid at all costs!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Turns out The Island of Dr. Moreau is the next one over from Blood Island. This Filipino-lensed production was directed by the always dependable Eddie Romero and stars the equally trustworthy John Ashley. It's everything you want it to be - trashy, goofy, transcendent.

    Matt Farrell (Ashley) is kidnapped by Neva Gordon (Pat Woodell, The Roommates) and Steinman and taken to an island where her father Dr. Gordon is making a super race of animals and humans. He wants Farrell to be his next hybrid, but his daughter falls for him and they decide to let all the animal people - including Pam Grier as Ayesa the Panther Woman and a truly insane looking bat person named Darmo - escape.

    Didn't Eddie Romero already make this movie and call it Terror Is A Man? Ah, quit being a know-it-all and just enjoy.
  • Matt Farrell (John Ashley) find himself abducted and taken to a Island with the requisite mad scientist and his lovely daughter Neva (Patt Woodell). From there the movie moves right along with an Island of Doctor Moreau type theme. A big shout out to the recently departed Jan Merlin who did an excellent job of playing a sexually ambiguous thug Steinman. Good Movie however a little more of provocative dress by the lovely Ms. Woodell would have been nice.
  • From the supra-genius mind of Director, Eddie Romero comes THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE! Once again, mad science is being perpetrated in the Philippines. This time, diving enthusiast / adventurer, Matt Farrell (John Ashley) is captured by the ne'er-do-well cronies of Dr. Gordon (Charles Macaulay) and taken to a secret fortress. There, Gordon carries out the requisite experiments, causing hideous human / animal hybrids. Romero fuses THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU w/ JAMES BOND (THE ISLAND OF DR. NO?), making the worst of both. The sci-fi elements are preposterous -an "antelope man"?!- and the Bond-ish stuff is equally absurd, featuring Ashley in the mega-spy role, looking more like a bloated Elvis Presley in search of a snack! He is aided by none other than Pat Woodell as Dr. Gordon''s daughter. As usual, the action is... less than exciting. Lovers of cinematic idiocy will drool over this slab of sewer sausage! Watch for the incredible Pam Grier as Ayesa, the "panther woman"! In spite of the dime store makeup, she still manages to look hot! One can only imagine what must have gone through her mind while she traipsed around w/ the likes of the "bat man", who resembles someone who fell into a bonfire while wrapped in a shower curtain! Said flying rodent nearly steals the show during his attempted flight sequence! Plop! However, the true highlight is Ayesa's deadly rampage! This movie must be seen by all sentient beings...
  • Want is wrong with you people this is one the best science fiction movie ever. It has a great story line. It also has great acting. It is very scary. See this movie is awesome.
  • Now for any Brits watching this absurd drivel the most memorable thing - and that really is saying something - will be the frequent repetition of the "Mastermind" theme tune. Otherwise, this is a completely forgettable piece of nonsense that sees a diver (John Ashley) kidnapped and taken to an island populated by creatures that would not look out of place in Madame Tussauds so that he can be experimented on by the evil "Dr. Gordon" (No, not the one from "Black Beauty"!). The results of his failed efforts are all over the place - indeed, the island actually has a real life "Mr. Tumness" and a sort of bat-man creature - oh, and don't forget "panther girl". It is preposterous at every level; the make up has been way too close to the big lights; the dialogue written in haste on the back of a stamp and the performances - especially from a very, very wooden Jan Merlin leave me wondering if Eddie Romero ever actually watched the scenes as he directed them...
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The 1959 film "Terror Is a Man" was the very first horror picture to be made in the country of the Philippines. A very well done but uncredited reiteration of H. G. Wells' classic 1896 novel "The Island of Dr. Moreau," the film was gorgeously shot in B&W, featured stylish direction by Geraldo de Leon and (again, an uncredited) Eddie Romero, as well as an intelligent script that was punctuated by interesting speculations on the nature of man and beast. Over the next 10 years, Romero worked at a fairly furious pace, eventually carving out for himself a place in the world's pantheon of great horror directors by coming out with his legendary Blood Island trilogy: "Brides of Blood" (1968), "The Mad Doctor of Blood Island" (1969) and "Beast of Blood" (1970), all starring American actor John Ashley. The team would come out with one more picture, the truly bewildering "Beast of the Yellow Night," in '71, before deciding on their next project. As it turned out, that project would be still another remake of the famous Wells story, but this time, Romero would direct by himself and the film would be shot in full color. The results, sadly, are nowhere what the original Filipino horror film had been. Whereas "Terror Is a Man" is a surprisingly artfully done film that shows restraint in its use of shock scares, their new endeavor, the meaninglessly titled "The Twilight People," was quite the opposite. Released in April '72, the film was a modest success at the box office, and one that Ashley would go on to speak of fondly. Today, one can only wonder why.

    To be fair, the picture does open quite promisingly, with lovely underwater photography and cool lounge jazz as the opening credits are displayed. We then see Ashley's character, world-roving adventurer Matt Farrell (a relation, perhaps, to his Jim Farrell character in "Brides of Blood"?), kidnapped while scuba diving and brought via ship to an unknown island 300 miles from nowhere. It is a pretty interesting opening, to be sure, while the viewer, as well as Matt, wonders just what the hell is going on. As it turns out, he has been brought to the island home of a scientist named Dr. Gordon (Charles Macaulay, who, I eventually realized, looked familiar to me by dint of his having played the character of Landru on the classic "Star Trek" episode "The Return of the Archons"!), who has decided that human beings must be adapted biologically to meet the ever-changing needs of an increasingly dangerous world. To the film's detriment, this mad doctor does not reveal any further details of the work that he is engaged in, but the viewer does get to see the results: Half-human/half-animal hybrids have been successfully created by Gordon and are now being kept in cages in an underground cavern. Thus, there is Ayesa the Panther Woman (the great Pam Grier, unrecognizable here behind her fangs, although one could never miss that bodacious body of hers; Grier, it will be remembered, was appearing in any number of films made in the Philippines at that time, including such marvelous entertainments as "The Big Doll House," "The Big Bird Cage" and "Black Mama, White Mama"), Darmo the Bat Man (Tony Gosalvez), Kuzma the Antelope Man (Ken Metcalfe, who had also appeared in "Beast of the Yellow Night"), Lupa the Wolf Woman (Mona Morena; actually, if it weren't for the credits, I would not have known what kind of an animal she was supposed to be) and Primo the Ape Man (Kim Ramos). Gordon has decided that Matt is the perfect human subject for his further experiments, a revelation that naturally makes the stunned American think only of fleeing. And he does indeed effect an escape from Gordon's fortresslike compound, aided by the mad doctor's pretty daughter Neva (Pat Woodell, who also appeared in "The Big Doll House," but whom most viewers will recall as Bobbi Jo on TV's "Petticoat Junction") and those five newly liberated, hybrid creations. And in the film's second half, things take a decided turn into "The Most Dangerous Game" territory, as Gordon's lieutenant, the blond, possibly gay and decidedly homicidal Steinman (Jan Merlin), along with a band of cutthroat Filipinos, hunts the fleeing party down....

    "The Twilight People" is fun to watch in a pulpy, Saturday-afternoon-at-the-movies kind of way, but objectively speaking, and by any legitimate and honest yardstick, really is objectively bad. Besides its lazy script by Jerome Small and Romero, which does not even make reference to the doctor's human/animal experiments once--not once--it features makeups (by one Antonio Artieda) for its quintet of creatures that look like something a 4th grader might have concocted for a Halloween trick-or-treat outing. The budget for this film was reportedly somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000, and I'm guessing that makeup accounted for very little of it. Indeed, the five creations of Dr. Gordon will most likely elicit laughs rather than chills in most viewers. Ashley is appealing as always here, but seems rather dour and humorless; granted, the situation that his character finds himself in does not lend itself to chuckles. Romero's direction is rather spiritless and distinctly unstylish, with some confusing jump cuts and poorly thought-out action scenes. Happily, the film does feature some lovely scenery, having been shot in the middle of some Philippines location of great verdant beauty; it never ceases to amaze me how GREEN the jungles in that country can be. And speaking of vivid colors, viewers of the Blood Island trilogy will perhaps not be surprised to learn that this film does not shy away from showing blood and gore in its violent set pieces, but the gore on display here always looks patently phony. (When will filmmakers realize that blood does not look bright cherry red in color, or the glistening orange of, say, Heinz ketchup...both of which are used prodigiously here?) Again, several scenes try hard but wind up only causing the viewer to chuckle. My favorite: the one in which Primo the Ape Man tries to rape Neva and is beaten off by Antelope Man, after which Bat Man attempts to fly to her aid but falls flat on his face after an unsuccessful launch from a nearby tree. And, oh...that final confrontation between Matt and Steinman, which the film seemed to have been building up to, is decidedly anticlimactic, at best. Bottom line: A fun but distinctly slapdash effort, perhaps best suited for watching with your favorite 8-year-old nephew on the couch. Other viewers would best be advised to stick with that earlier 1959 Filipino version, or even better, the 1932 film from Paramount, "Island of Lost Souls." Kathleen Burke as the Panther Woman in that film might not be nearly as bodacious as Pam Grier, but she sure is a LOT more convincing!