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Monday, June 28, 2010

The Twilight People (1972) review


John Ashley (Matt Farrell), Pat Woodell (Neva Gordon), Jan Merlin (Steinman), Charles Macaulay (Dr. Gordon), Pam Grier (Ayesa)

Directed by Eddie Romero

The Short Version: Ridiculously absurd Filipino science fiction action monster movie from Eddie "Blood Island" Romero. It takes a little while to get going, but undemanding trash fans will at least mildly enjoy this 'C' movie adventure.

The insidious Dr. Gordon kidnaps Matt Farrell in a plan to utilize his brain in bizarre experiments cross breeding humans with animals. The mad doctor surmises that the only way to save mankind is to splice various animal cells with those of a human to create a new species. However, Farrell escapes with a number of Gordon's experiments and a group of mercenaries are dispatched to bring them back, dead or alive.

THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE is an entertaining curio in the annals of drive in movies. Notably ambitious, but hopelessly cheap, if you're a fan of other Filipino horrors like the BLOOD ISLAND trilogy, or BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT (1971), than this other Eddie Romero oddity will be right up your alley. Romero's horror movies often combined a lot of action mixed in with the monsters and THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE is no different.

A combination of both ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1933) and THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932), Romero's movie starts off very slowly, but once the creatures show up, the film comes alive and turns into a mildly fun exercise in absurdity. The effects are barely serviceable, but add to the films charm and the camera never shys away from them.

The movie itself is pretty infantile all around. Definitely not for the average horror fan, it is bloody in places and probably not totally suitable for youngsters, although I think they'd be too busy ogling the shoddy monsters. The Bat Man is the most hilarious although there are some creative means of shooting him flying through the air. His wings appear to be cut off pieces of rug with some very thin leather attached. He's the most "elaborate" creation while the others are either wearing masks, or heavy make up applications.

Star, John Ashley, had previously been something of a heartthrob in a string of beach party movies that began, simply enough, with BEACH PARTY (1963), MUSCLE BEACH PARTY (1964), BIKINI BEACH (1964), BEACH BLANKET BINGO (1965) and HOW TO STUFF A WILD BIKINI (1965). Shortly thereafter, Ashley was in the Philippines starring and producing a series of exploitation 'B' movies.

Pam Grier doesn't utter a single line of dialog, but instead howls like a cat playing the Panther Woman, Ayesa. She gets into her role and plays it with about as much conviction as one could expect an actor playing an animal could. Grier did a few Filipino movies working with both Romero and Roger Corman before embarking on a series of blaxploitation classics for AIP and director, Jack Hill. Her role as Ayesa is probably the most bizarre part she ever played.

Fans of 'C' movies and drive in drivel will get plenty to chew on here. The first half is relatively slow, but about 40 minutes in the hilarity and poverty row production values kick in showcasing some goofy charm for those who can appreciate this sort of thing. Schlock lovers need only apply.

This review is representative of the VCI DVD


Carl (ILHM) said...

I wasnt even aware of this one, but Im probably not alone in that. Might have to pass on this one V

venoms5 said...

Yeah, if you didn't care much for the BLOOD ISLAND movies, you may want to steer clear of Dr. Gordon and his animal people. This might be one for J, though.

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