Terror Is a Man [aka Blood Creature] (1959)

Several reviewers have compared this film to those produced by horror great Jacques Tourneur.  Somehow, it isn’t exactly what you’d expect of a film about a scientist turning a panther into a man.  But it does more or less fit.

What makes it even more interesting is that this was the first of the series of Filipino horror and SF movies, which are generally considered abysmally poor.  That is definitely not the case here.

Basically, we have an uncredited adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau, but one which has far more in common with Isle of the Dead than with adaptations like Island of Lost Souls.  However, Francis Lederer’s “Dr. Charles Girard” holds a curious distinction as far as screen Dr. Moreau’s go:  he is very like the Moreau of the novels.  As brilliant as Charles Laughton’s version of Moreau may have been, it bears little resemblance to the original, nor have any of the other versions I have seen come anywhere close to Wells’ original:  not an evil monster, but a dedicated scientist who is dispassionately pursuing his scientific ideas, almost totally unaware of how revolting his work might seem to others.

However, unlike the original, the focus here is on the terrible burden his work has laid on his wife, her conscience, and on everyone around him.

We see little of the creature, and then mostly wrapped up in bandages like a mummy.  Which is probably just as well.  There’s a curious William Castle-esque gimmick, a warning bell which supposedly sounds just before the Doctor starts surgery on his “patient” so you can hide your eyes if you are particularly squeamish.  I’d missed that bit of advertising and didn’t particularly notice it at the time.  However, the scene in question is far from gruesome:  as far as I could see, there was no grue at all, just a scalpel cutting through what looked like a piece of foam-backed vinyl.

And, I might note, they seem to have thrown the same dummy off the cliff that was used in Nightbeast.  Certainly it’s hard to believe there could two dummies that bad.

At any rate, it is proof that a movie isn’t necessarily bad, just because it was made in the Philippines.

And you would be missing out on a minor gem of a film if you ignored it for that reason.

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