MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND
All of the Blood Island films run to an extremely interchangeable formula an American hero (usually played by John Ashley and accompanied by his girlfriend) arrives in the tropics and discovers a mad scientist operating in the jungle or on an island. The mad scientist has created a series of human monsters that proceed to run amok, attacking people (amid much gore), before abducting women and usually the heroine in the climactic scenes (amid much toplessness). Mad Doctor of Blood Island opens with a scene that puts the focus of these films upfront establishing shots of the jungle, followed by a native girl bathing at a waterfall and then being attacked by a monster and pursued naked through the jungle.
Most of this is not too different, with the exception of the locations in the tropics and the greater gore and sexual content, from the formula that served most mad scientist films of the 1930s and 40s, or for that matter The Island of Dr Moreau, or perhaps more so its first film version The Island of Lost Souls (1932). The Blood Island films make interesting contrast to The Island of Lost Souls, which bought into a symbolic divide that seemed to say that Westerners were venturing outside of civilised norms and into a world where the dividing lines between human and animal, civilised and bestial wildness was breaking down. While The Island of Lost Souls was shot studio backlot, the venture to the Philippines and the act of casting Caucasian actors in the leads and Filipino actors as everybody else amplifies this across racial and cultural lines.
Mad Doctor of Blood Island is relatively tame with respect to its exploitation elements a few gore scenes with severed heads and spilt intestines. The monster is appropriately green skinned and looks moderately gruesome. One of Romero and De Leons oddest effects is the use of a lens that frenetically zooms in and out with a vibrating effect every time the monster appears or we see from its point-of-view. Directorially, this is surely the equivalent of adding a whole bunch of exclamation marks at the end of a sentence for effect!!!!!! In terms of direction, creating suspense, directing action or anything at all, De Leon and Romero are utterly pedestrian. Indeed, aside from the scenes when the monster turns up, Mad Doctor of Blood Island is surprisingly sedate and slow moving.
Mad Doctor of Blood Island does come with a highly amusing William Castle-like promotional gimmick where audiences were issued with green blood before the film began and then an intro was tacked onto the film where people were directed to drink the blood to protect them against being turned into monsters.
The fascinating story behind the making of Mad Doctor of Blood Island and of the Filipino exploitation phenomenon is covered in the documentary Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010).