Sunday, October 4, 2020

THE BLOOD DRINKERS (1964) Blu-ray Review

SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 3
Total First Time Views: 2
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $156.33

The Blood Drinkers (1964) d. Gerardo de Leon (Philippines) (88 min) (1st viewing)

After the suave and smooth-pated Dr. Marco (Ronald Remy) shows up under cover of night at a small village with his small entourage in tow, he installs himself at the local crypt on the outside of town. Seems the not-so-good doctor is of the vampiric stripe, and has arrived with his ailing bride Katrina (Amalia Fuentes) and her mother (Mary Walter) in order to procure the heart of Katrina’s twin sister Charita… literally. Yep, following several blood transfusions courtesy of some involuntary donors, Marco plans to perform a straight-up organ transplant and put his lady love to rights. Needless to say, Charita is not wild about this plan, nor is her boyfriend Victor (Eddie Fernandez), and the two of them fall in with an aged priest who possesses knowledge of how to contend with such supernatural surgeons.

In case you hadn’t picked up on it by now, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill bloodsucker yarn, and director Leon (who had served up Terror is a Man, a fascinating adaptation of H.G. Well’s Island of Dr. Moreau, a few years earlier,) accents his narrative twists with numerous artistic flourishes, most notably the use of red, magenta, and blue lighting gels over numerous nighttime scenes. 

Screenwriters Cesar Amigo and Rico Bello Omagap have manifested a wonderful array of colorful supporting parts, especially in Marco’s party, in the form of his two henchmen, a long-toothed hunchback and a dwarf, and his sexy right hand Tanya (Eva Montez) who clearly pines for her master’s love yet faithfully carries out his bidding in the interest of restoring Katrina to health.

While several Gothic tropes are put to use (crosses, fangs to necks), there are dozens of little quirks that make this Filipino effort its own beast. For example, Marco is a hugely sympathetic character, acting on genuine emotion as opposed to pure bloodlust, which gives his seemingly immoral plan a surprising sense of gravitas. There are a number of enjoyably rambunctious fight scenes between Victor and Marco’s cronies, with the doc also popping in for a few rounds himself. (That is the appropriate term, by the way, since Marco has the ability to materialize and dematerialize at will!)

The finale, where villagers are armed not only with torches and crosses, but with flare guns (in order to light up the night sky, thereby weakening the resolve of their undead foes) is energetic and lively, bringing things to a dramatic and emotionally satisfying conclusion.

If you’re looking for a break from the cobwebbed castles and English-accented Counts strutting about in evening wear, this might just be your favorite new exotic dish. Worth checking out.


Manong of the Philippines: Interview With Script Supervisor and Gerry De Leon’s AD Dik Trofeo
Hemisphere Appreciation by Filmmaker David Decoteau
Audio Commentary With Film Historians Nathaniel Thompson and Howard S. Berger
Partial Audio Commentary With Hemisphere Marketing Consultant Samuel M. Sherman
Deleted Scenes
Blood Drinkers Trailer
Vampire People Trailer
Radio Spot

The Blood Drinkers is available now on Blu-ray from Severin Films and can be ordered HERE

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