The Beast of the Yellow Night (1971)

Article 3187 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-17-2010
Posting Date: 5-13-2010
Directed by Eddie Romero
Featuring John Ashley, Mary Charlotte Wilcox, Leopoldo Salcedo
Country: Philippines / USA
What it is: Cross between the story of Faust and a werewolf movie

A starving man sells his soul to the devil for food. He becomes immortal, but must propagate evil for his master. When he fails, he is transformed into a murderous beast.

I’ve read that John Ashley claims that this was the most cerebral film he made in the Philippines, and I’m willing to buy that; with its philosophical delvings and offbeat characters, it’s something of a horror art film. It’s different enough that I feel a bit inclined to defend it. Sadly, it doesn’t really work, as much of the talk is simply dull, and the main character’s relationship with his wife degenerates into soap opera shtick. The horror often gets pushed on the back-burner as well, and the monster isn’t memorable, nor are his rampages particularly effective. The best scenes and conversations feature Vic Diaz as the devil, but you really don’t see enough of him. And for all the philosophical discussions, the conflict comes down to whether the main character can regain his soul, thus sloughing off his enforced immortality and allowing him to die, and this doesn’t require near the amount of talk we’re given. In the end, the movie is neither fish nor fowl, and is bound to disappoint no matter what the expectations are. In short, it’s a failure, albeit not an uninteresting one.


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