Brides of Blood (1968)

BRIDES OF BLOOD (1968)
aka Brides of the Beast
Article 3322 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-2-2010
Posting Date: 9-18-2010
Directed by Gerardo de Leon and Eddie Romero
Featuring Kent Taylor, Beverly Powers, John Ashley
Country: Philippines / USA
What it is: Filipino-style horror

A scientist, his wife and a Peace Corps volunteer arrive at an island to do research and to help the natives. However, they soon discover that something is amiss; the plant and animal life undergoes strange mutations, and the natives have taken to sacrificing their maidens to a hideous monster who ravishes them and tears them to pieces.

With this I finish covering what could be loosely called the “Blood Island” trilogy of horror movies from the Philippines. Some people have grouped TERROR IS A MAN and BRAIN OF BLOOD into this group, though the inclusion of the former movie is a bit of a stretch, and the latter movie simply doesn’t belong in any way, shape or form to the series. Matter of fact, it isn’t even strictly a trilogy to begin with; the only two movies that have a plot relation are MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND and BEAST OF BLOOD. This movie at least shares certain crucial similarities in that it also features direction by Eddie Romero and acting by John Ashley.

I fully expected merely a lurid piece of exploitation horror like the other two movies of the trilogy, and for a while that’s what it seemed like, with its liberal doses of sex and gore. Then a certain key moment in the movie made me start pondering at a possible deeper meaning to the movie. That moment occurs when a young native couple is interrupted in their frolicking by the sight of a native child being attacked by a killer tree. The tribe rescues the child, and then proceed to undertake the ceremony leading to another set of sacrifices. The fact that the attack of the tree and the advent of the sacrifices were related, combined with the fact that the creatures and plants that mutate eventually return to their previous state, and that these mutations occur in sync with each other, led me not only to figuring out the nature of the monster but also that the whole movie can be seen as a metaphor for aberrant sexuality. When the monster manifests itself, nature itself takes on an unhealthy phallic atmosphere, and the mutations only retreat after the monster has raped and dismembered the sacrifice victims. As a result, the sex in the movie isn’t merely exploitative; it is inherent in the story. Because of this, I find it interesting that the natives can only have their mating dance ritual at the end of the movie after the monster has been finally destroyed; it is a metaphorical return to healthy sexuality, and, as such, is actual essential to the picture rather than a mere attempt to add some running time or protract the ending. The special effects are pretty problematic (the butterfly is pretty fake looking, and they should have avoided any close-ups of the monster), and some of the acting is weak (Beverly Powers is memorable for something other than her performance), but the presence of the very strong subtext gives the movie far more depth than I expected. This is easily the most interesting of the “Blood Island” trilogy.

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