Thursday, October 23, 2008

Horror of the Blood Monsters – review

Director: Al Adamson

Release date: 1970

Contains spoilers

Oh dear, oh dear. To be fair I’ve not been too kind to Al Adamson before now. The risible Dracula Vs Frankenstein received a very poor 1 out of 10 with Blood of Dracula’s Castle and Doctor Dracula both scoring 1.5. But nothing was as bad within those three turkeys as this steaming pile of digitally captured mess.

I mention the 'digital capture', as it were, because it seems criminal to me that a film such as Vadim’s Blood and Roses should be unavailable on DVD and yet this has been available in that format for quite some time. Like the later Doctor Dracula this is made up of more than one film. Actually I suspect a minimum of five. Imdb tells us that it includes the 1965 Filipino movie Tagani, for cave men sections, One Million BC (1940), again for cave men sections and possibly the Mammoth, Unknown Island (1948), which probably gave us the prehistoric monsters. The film then has colour shot sections, sci-fi based, which makes a fourth movie in the mix. I suspect the vampire section at the beginning was shot separately as well.

We start with a voiceover by a vampire (Brother Theodore) who tells us that vampires are among us. However we must believe in them for them to exist… Hold on just one minute Tinkerbell… “I do believe in vampires, I do, I do!” Give me a break. Anyway we get lots of scenes of vampiric attacks and hear that they live by night and pass on the curse.

How do they pass on the curse (and cheap plastic fangs)? Through vampire blood, which came from another planet. Our only hope is to study the blood from the planet of the Tubreton vampires. It just so happens that Dr Rynning (John Caradine) is leading an interplanetary expedition there… No forget all that because this footage is clearly separately shot and the rest of the film has sod all to do with it.

We go to mission control where XB-13 is about to be launched for an expedition to Spectrum, the unknown solar system. They take off and then… disaster, something hits them knocking out video and radio communications and knocking them off course. Eventually they get communication back and they decide they need to land on a planet for repairs. Grouchy old Rynning finds them one.

Now before I go into the next segment, as it were, let us talk Valerie (Vicki Volante), because I just had to feel sorry for her. Sat in mission control she gets to repeat over and over again “Come in XB-13” and her sole job seems to be making countdowns (wherever the ship may be and even for satellite launches). She has two other roles in the film. She is in the disappointing sex scene – disappointing because sex has been replaced by a couple of wires connected to a machine with flashing lights. Finally she has a spectrum torch aimed at her to explain how the colours will change in the chromatic radiation on the planet – in other words they had to find a way of making the black and white footage colour and did it with colour filters, bodging a reasoning together.

The crew, sans Rynning, go on to the planet and have a look around. At first they see nothing but dinosaurs including indistinct lumps in the distance, standard lizard fighting lizard type footage and a mammoth. You know I was quite taken with the mammoth as he ran along and my mind went, fleetingly, to the flick mammoth, which had a lot more class than this.

Then we get the cavemen, observed from a distance. First of all there seems to be a fight between one clan and another with snakes growing out of their shoulders. Kill the snake, kill the man, it would appear. Interesting but suddenly ignored for the rest of the film. The fighting is then with the tubreton, with their big fangs… okay one gets the impression that in the original film they were less vampire and more sabre toothed!

The crew capture a girl, Lian Mailan (Jennifer Bishop) and perform some intrusive surgery in order that they might implant a communicator (okay they thought about the language difference, at least). She asks for their help and they agree though they do seem more interested in the fire water (petroleum) to be honest – to make a coolant – and crewman Willy (Joey Benson) seems more interested in getting her suspiciously cocktail dress-like garb off!

Throw in random lobstermen, and bat creatures in a cave and we are having a real mismatch of a time. The crew interact with very little of what is going on as, of course, it is all really happening in another movie. Amusing then as Bryce (Bruce Powers) and Linda (Britt Semand) kneel and he raises a rifle to take aim at a giant lizard. After a while he relaxes as it turns away – of course it did, there was no footage of one being shot!

Bizarrely, having examined a metal box that the crew find, Rynning realises that this was once an advanced civilisation who bombed themselves back to the stone age with nuclear weapons and that they are all dying of a virus that the crew have contracted also. The virus makes the white blood cells devour the red platelets and the whole planet is doomed. Ah ah, a vampire aspect perhaps. No, they only need to leave to escape that doom as the virus cannot survive in Earth’s atmosphere!!!! Cue Valerie giving a countdown.

Oh this is poor… I mean really, really poor. The cut and paste makes little sense and doesn’t work storywise. One can’t even say it is art, simply butchery. The cast are uniformly poor, with the exception of Vicki Volante who is masterful in her ability to count backwards! Poor old John Carradine seems, in turns, bemused and annoyed by the whole thing.

Al Adamson, hang your head in shame. 0.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Everlost said...

does that one count as the worst vamp film?
not sure ive seen vampire cavemen before anywhere!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

its close certainly, but gains half a point because I liked the mammoth and Valerie was talented at counting backwards!!!

I'm still running on Geek Maggot Bingo being the all time worst vampire movie as I couldn't even finish watching it.

Also do check the reviews of robo vampire, devil's dynamite and counter destroyer as a series of really pretty darn poor vamp movies!

Anonymous said...

Al Adamson made some really stinkers. Z grade films. I have seen a few and they are not great, but he seems to be a sort of legend for schlocky films.

The cover art for the poster was done by comic book great Neal Adams however. it is a great poster.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Bill, I didn't realise who the artist was and it is a fun cover - much better than the film!