Monday, November 24, 2014

Always the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride of Blood


Man about Movies Hank Parmer (known to his underworld confederates as Grouchomarxist) is back this week with another film which, by all the laws of physics, should not exist, and dares you to believe it!...Or Not!

Brides of Blood (1968)

A Hemisphere Pictures production, directed by Gerardo de Leon and Eddie Romero (George's sleazier brother) from a script by your friend and mine, Cesar Amigo.
The movie begins with some Filipino -- I mean, Polynesian -- extras standing around in sarongs, holding spears, as they watch a tramp steamer approach their island.

On board the steamer young, handsome Peace Corps volunteer Jim Farrell (John Ashley), boring middle-aged stiff Dr. Paul Henderson (Kent Taylor, the Scientist) and his 30-ish wife, Carla (Beverly Hills -- no, really, and her wardrobe will emphasize these prime tracts of real estate) are dining with the captain of the Greasy Bastard. No, strike that: it's the captain who's the greasy bastard.

The captain inquires: "Wha' for you want to bury yourselves on thees island? No one veesits Blood Island except this sheep, and that's only once every seex months." What 'sheep'? Sheesh, what a maroon: he thinks he's the skipper of a sea-going even-toed ungulate!

Here we first become acquainted with this film's penchant for not simply telegraphing but sky-writing the storyline, cluing us in from the start that this bunch has the collective IQ of a wad of dryer lint. I mean, seriously, "Blood Island"? ("We wanted to go to Entrails Island, but they were booked solid. And Lingering, Agonizing Death Island is soooo last year.")

Jim's aching to civilize the simple natives, while Paul's enthusiastic about studying the island's flora and fauna. (I think that's enthusiasm, but it's hard to tell with Kent Taylor.) Carla's clearly not pleased, even though she'll have a fresh field in which to pursue her hobby: publicly emasculating her husband. She makes eyes at one of the sweaty, bare-chested sailors. When Jim cattily remarks there'll probably be a mutiny when she leaves the ship, Carla offers to stay aboard and keep the crew happy. (I think she wants to organize a shuffleboard tournament.) The captain guffaws.

Hubby gets huffy, says he'd better go below and check his equipment. Jim say's he'd better check his gear, too. (Will two 50-gallon tubs of Brylcreem be enough to last six months? What if Paul runs out, and wants some of his? He looks like at least a quart-a-day man.)

Carla asks Paul if he needs any help. But she doesn't mean it: she knows that checking his equipment is something he prefers to do in private. On her way to her stateroom, she stops off to check out the sailor's equipment. That's right: she's a slutty slut slut. So she'll deserve whatever bad thing is going to happen to her, right? God, how I love that good, old-fashioned morality!

By the time they pull up to the pier, Carla's temporarily satisfied her cravings, and changed into a new dress. Looking down from the bridge at the islanders, she says she's never seen so many sad and frightened faces. Not since the SWAT team took out Mr. Munch by mistake, in that embarrassing incident at the East Moline Chuck E. Cheese.

The new arrivals file ashore just in time to see a picturesque native procession. The islanders are carrying a lumpy, cloth-wrapped bundle on a litter and mouthing the monotonous chant which will accompany each and every one of their ceremonies: "Ba Ba -- Ba Ba Ba -- Ba Ba -- Ba!" It's a catchy little number.

Unbeknownst to our Americans and the villagers, a sinister figure watches from the edge of the jungle.

One of the bearers twists his ankle and upsets the litter. Out from the bundle pops a dismembered leg and a decapitated head. Carla quite understandably freaks. The islanders gather up the people pieces, take them out in the bay and respectfully dump them over the side of their canoe.

But it's nothing to get excited about. Arcadio, the village headman, shows them to their hut, and introduces his granddaughter, the love interest, Alma (Eva Darren). Carla, who's quickly recovered from her shock, wants to know what happened to those two girls. (Incidentally, how did she know these were pieces of two bodies, both of them female, as well as their approximate age? Did she take a correspondence course in forensic pathology?)

It was an accident, explains the headman. Their leis exploded ... and … then they fell into the coconut peeler ... didn't have a chance, what with all the rotating knives. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Nobody bats an eye. Happens all the time on these primitive islands, where they've likely never even heard of OSHA. Arcadio informs them he and that sultry granddaughter who's sporting the suspiciously un-Polynesian ronnie are the only English-speakers on the island. Except, Alma reminds him, for the mysterious Mr. Powers and his faithful detainer, Goro.

Then Alma launches into a lengthy speech on behalf of the islanders about how grateful they are to Jim and the others for coming to their island. She finishes up by promising him "We are your servants."

Jim gently corrects her: "We're here to serve, not to be served. I only hope it works out that way."

"I, too," she answers demurely, with downcast eyes, each of them no doubt thinking of services they can provide for the other.

Jim introduces everybody. Alma says it will give her great pleasure to do whatever she can to help. Carla replies that her husband won't be much help in the pleasure department, dear. She offers to do a three-way with Alma and Jim. It's going to be a long six months.

Later, everybody's in the hut, unpacking. Alma is enthralled by the high tech of a Coleman lantern.  Arcadio now decides to tell Paul they chose a bad time to come to the island. Jim wants to know why, but the headman won't elaborate.

Alma says they are ashamed. Jim assures her they weren't expecting laundromats and supermarkets. A White Castle or an Arby's would have been nice, but they'll manage to cope, somehow.

Arcadio: "We wish you had asked to return where you came from, while the ship was still here." But wouldn't it have been a bit more timely if Arcadio had said something before the ship left? You simply can't assume this bunch is quick enough on the uptake to catch broad hints like “Blood Island” and mysteriously mangled people parts.

Paul doesn't understand.

Arcadio: "We have gone back to primitive ways. There are things which we do now, which we did not do before." He departs, without offering any further explanation.

After Arcadio's exit, Paul asks Alma what he meant. She says, "We have returned to the ways of our primitive ancestors. We are not too proud of it." She bows, then quickly exits. Got it? They're doing something primitive. And they're ashamed.

The next day, Jim is showing the awestruck islanders how to construct a rickety cabana. He tells Alma it's going to be a health center. Then they're going to build a schoolhouse, and maybe an irrigation system. And after that, a secret fort! And then a full-scale replica of Trump's Taj Mahal! He promises Alma he's here to improve their village, not tell them how to run it: they'll have to do the work themselves. No leaving a bowl of milk out at night for the elves!

Then he notices an odd-looking tree. That is, he says it looks odd, but from all we can see of it, it just appears kind of scraggly, and in need of a little judicious pruning. He asks Alma about the tree, but she clams up. When he wants to know if something's wrong, she runs away. He continues to gaze in wonder at this arboreal freak.

Cut to the jungle. Carla's bored, while hubby's doing scientist things. Strangely, Carla notices the sun is setting at 4:30 in the afternoon. It's more likely her watch has stopped, or she has trouble with the concept of time zones, than the Earth has suddenly sped up its rotation. But this is Blood Island, after all, where anything can happen.

Carla poses seductively against a tree trunk. Paul stops taking samples and stares at her.

Carla: "I'm not one of your specimens."

Paul: "Sometimes I think it would be simpler if you were." He'd need one hell of a big jar, though.

It looks as if she and Paul might reconcile, or at least indulge in a quick hate fuck, but the moment passes. I see: this is the Filipino-American remake of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Starring Carla as Martha, Paul as George, Jim as young Nick and Alma as Honey. ("Don't talk about the monster, Martha!")

On their way back to the village, they come across a bizarre critter which looks like someone glued an eggplant onto a land crab's hindquarters. Paul, ever the perfect gentleman, assures the crab that it doesn't make its butt look too big.

Back at the village, the setting sun is almost touching the horizon. Another fascinating native ritual: this one's a lottery, to choose two of the island's maidens for some special honor. Strangely, the lucky winners don't seem at all elated by their good fortune.

I guess the script forgot about that sunset, since now Jim, Carla and Paul are ambling through the jungle, and from the angle of the light it can't be more than a couple of hours past noon. Manservant Goro -- the sinister, scar-faced guy we briefly glimpsed when the Americans set foot on Blood Island -- suddenly materializes from the underbrush, and invites them to dinner at Mr. Power's mansion.

Goro leads them into the jungle. Mist rises, and an unearthly racket assails their ears. They notice a banana tree has grown a weird appendage, which -- like the movie -- is flailing about aimlessly. Scientist Paul appears only mildly interested by this incredible discovery. (Okay, Taylor only seems capable of mildly portraying any emotion, but still ...) He readily agrees with Jim that it can wait until morning. They sure are in a lather to meet that enigmatic Mr. Powers.

Goro is nervous; he tells them they must hurry. Another banana tree menaces them with its fronds as they walk away. They arrive at the Powers mansion, where the groundskeeper has apparently been burning a lot of yard trash. Inside the courtyard, two diminutive servants clad in red silk diapers sprint to the gate and open it, while a third peeks around a bush.

The visitors are suitably awed by the place. "It must be over a hundred years old!" exclaims Jim. Sure, it looks more like it was built in the 1950s, but why not take the script's word for it? They enter the mansion, while a half-dozen or more little people in diapers scurry around or furtively watch the visitors. (Apparently, Powers has developed his own breed of Oompa Loompas.) The little people whisper among themselves. Something about wanting to climb those Hills, I'd wager.

The Americans first meet Ricky Ricardo -- I mean, the mysterious Mr. Powers -- in his parlor, as he pounds out a tempestuous tune on a grand piano. (I suppose a pipe organ would have been a little too much of a tip-off.) I think he's playing the theme for The Secret Storm. Goro whacks one of the servants on the head, tells the little guys something which I'm sure would roughly translate as "Stop ogling the dame and scram!" He then gently interrupts his deeply preoccupied Master, informing him that his guests have arrived.

Esteban Powers introduces himself to his "fellow Americans" in a thick Spanish accent, and invites them to stay at his mansion. Carla, salivating over the new meat, easily persuades Paul. Jim declines, reminding them he has to live among the villagers to do his work.

They sit down to dinner. Before they can begin tucking in, they're interrupted by the sound of Goro whipping one of the Oompa Loompas. Goro explains the little guy stole Paul's flare gun. Powers chides Goro for leaping to conclusions, then apologizes to his guests: he hopes the beating hasn't spoiled their appetites.

This crowd? Are you kidding? Jim and Paul have elevated obliviousness to the level of high art, and Carla's ... intrigued.

The script dishes up some exposition: turns out Blood Island was on the fringe of the fallout from the bomb tests. Powers says there's no radiation here, but Paul tells him about the mutated land crab, and reveals that his tests showed it was radioactive. They blather for a while about radioactivity and mutations. Powers wants to know if the mutations could affect -- dramatic pause -- humans. Paul isn't sure.

After dinner, Goro leads Powers' guests back through the jungle. Assuming the filmmakers were trying for a day-for-night effect here, they failed miserably. More mist, and again with the mixed-up, kooky sound effects, as they trudge along the trail.

In a pioneering example of tentacle soft porn, Carla is attacked by a tree root. Jim stabs the root with his knife, while Goro watches impassively. Trees are waving their roots at them on every side. Orchids puff clouds of pink pollen at them, but prematurely, while they're still well out of range. (I think this may be a subtle metaphor for Paul's little problem.) They hasten past. A giant inchworm -- or maybe it's an ambulatory penis, you never can tell with these wacky atomic mutations -- humps across the trail after they pass by.

Carla panics. She has to be hustled along by Jim and Paul. They emerge from that screwy jungle just in time to catch another procession: now the islanders are carrying two litters, bearing the lucky lottery winners. Jim, Paul and Carla follow the crowd to an idol topped by an enormous gap-toothed Mr. Bill head. This idol really shouldn't have put off those visits to the dentist.

The islanders tie the girls to upright bamboo frames, and Arcadio strips their halters off. (Because of the blip in the movie here, I'm betting the original cut probably showed some breast.) The headman shoos everybody off, telling them there's nothing they can do for the women.

Again, I can only marvel at these Americans' enlightened acceptance of local customs.

Back at the hut: eerie roars are heard from the jungle. Well, actually, it sounds more like a telephone breather, with his head stuck in a culvert. Paul, however, thinks it might be an earthquake. And this guy is supposed to be a scientist?

"No!" replies Alma, mentally adding, "What kind of a numbskull are you?"

A fake moth, with construction paper wings embellished with markings crudely scrawled in Crayola, flutters into the hut and, accompanied by a theremin, hovers in the air. It changes form before their very eyes! Off-camera, and not in the brief glimpses they show of it, but look, just go with them on this: it has fangs and other scary stuff, okay? Paul tries to capture the putative were-moth, but it attacks him! It wounds his hand and flies away, because it was never really his ...

While Carla helps Jim bandage Paul's bloody hand, the breather gets louder and more urgent. He's either having a possibly fatal asthma attack or working up to something ... Carla demands to know what's happening. Paul speculates that some creature on the island has undergone a drastic mutation. (Ya think?)

Cut to the idol. The monster shuffles into the torchlight. It's a hideous amalgam of Sean Connery and H.R. Pufnstuf, with glowing red eyes, and dried-up liver slices stapled to the costume. The non-human creature attacks one of the girls. She screams.
Back to the hut: Jim wants to confront the creature, but Arcadio insists it's too late. The headman threatens Jim with a knife, vows to stop him at all costs. Suddenly, the roars cease. Oh ... well, never mind. Lights out, everybody!

Time to greet the new day with another dump-the-leftovers-in-the-bay ritual. Jim and Alma watch from shore. There has to be some way to kill the monster, declares Jim. Why don't the men get together and destroy it? Do they want to be wiped out, along with their families?

Alma reveals that the creature only wants maidens. He doesn't devour them, he merely satisfies himself on them. "But they get torn to pieces!" Jim protests. "It is his way," replies Alma, "of satisfying himself." TMI, cries Jim!

Just typical, huh ladies? I'll bet the men's attitude would have been a tad different, if it had been a raging ass-monster terrorizing the island, and they had to feed a couple of the boys to it every night.

And what's with the non-human creature requiring not merely the traditional one, but two victims at a whack, to sate its hellish lust? How did it negotiate this agreement with the islanders? For instance, how did they determine female virgins were its preferred fare? Seems like this would have involved quite a bit of trial-and-error. And what happens when they're out of virgins, particulaly since they appear to be running through them at twice the usual rate? Were they planning to import them? This all looks pretty ill-conceived, if you ask me.

The real Achilles' Heel of their plan is that there's a fairly easy way for virgins to change their status.

Back to the film: Paul and Carla are footing it through the jungle on their way to the Powers mansion, as three natives carry their meager luggage -- two suitcases and a leather satchel. (It's truly amazing how Carla manages to have a new outfit every time we see her. Maybe there's a cute little boutique on the other side of the island.)

But then the natives decline to go any farther. "A Fred!" one of them tells the scientist. Which is so bogus. Even if they have this bizarre phobia about Freds, what evidence do they have that a Fred is haunting the area? Regardless, they dump the luggage and leave before Paul gets a chance to stiff them on their tip.

Carla's worried about the monster, but Paul reassures her by pointing out the mansion is the safest place to be, when it's on the prowl. Carla gets all contrite about her sleeping around, but Paul is dead set on withholding his precious bodily fluids. Goro appears, to conduct them to their new digs. On the way through the jungle, Carla notices the Disney-fied banana tree of the previous evening is now perfectly normal. Goro explains that the night air on the island sometimes tricks the eye. Yeah.

Back to Jim, doing more Peace Corps stuff in the village. The men, under Jim's supervision, are digging a trench -- what happened with the health clinic and schoolhouse, or do these guys work really fast? Jim tells admiring Alma it'll be a lot easier to practice crop rotation with this new irrigation system. You have to respect this guy's dedication to the hands-off approach, when it comes to accepting the whole virgin sacrifice thing and not letting it get in the way of really important stuff, like rotating crops.

He surveys the men's work with an air of satisfaction. Soon they'll be ready for the miracle of advanced Western tonsorial techniques.

At the mansion, Paul and Carla listen to Powers' theories about the killings over lunch: he thinks it's a maniac. Carla perks up. "A maniac?" she repeats, a speculative gleam in her eye. (Down, girl! Down!) Paul's a bit dubious that it's your ordinary, run-of-the-mill madman, though: there is that whole torn limb-from-limb thing.

Powers hastily changes the subject, inviting them to view the sunset with him. On the veranda, Paul and Carla kvetch about yesterday's gloomy sunset. "Like a mortuary light on a corpse!" says Carla. (I'll bet Cesar was very proud of that line.) But Powers laughs at her forebodings.

Cut to a young islander couple frolicking in the jungle. Cue things-are-gonna-get-weird noise. She sees something, and screams! There's a tree waving its roots around, while a child struggles in its bark-y embrace. Islanders rush up with their spears, but hesitate. One of them leaps in with his knife, but he's captured by another root! More islanders attack the tree, while Jim and Alma watch from the sidelines. Jim did say they're supposed to do things for themselves.

The noise stops, and the tree drops the kid. Jim notices Alma has left his side. Gramps has decided it's time for another lottery. Predictably, Alma gets chosen in this round. Jim reconsiders his detached attitude toward these quaint island customs, now that his girlfriend is slated to meet the Horny Monster Mystery Date. He has to be restrained by the islanders.

Jim's tied up and held under guard in his hut. He tries to talk the guards into helping him stop the monster, but gets nowhere with them. (It seems to have slipped his mind that Arcadio and Alma are the only English speakers in the village.) Back at the idol, Alma and the other bride of the non-human creature are lashed to the bamboo frames. This time, Arcadio's alternate gets to rip off the girls' halters and sarongs. I guess it would have been a little too twisted to have Grandad provide the service, as per usual, when it's his granddaughter.

Note that this entire sequence is shot from a considerable distance, so the maidens' full frontal nudity is more implied than visible. What do you think these filmmakers are: sleazeball perverts? Nosiree. No way.

Cut to Jim, who's backed up to an oil lamp and is trying to burn through the rope binding his hands, while appearing nonchalant as the flesh on the inside of his wrists crisps. The guards become suspicious. They throw him to the floor. A fight ensues. Jim incapacitates the first guard with a kick to the gut, and avoids the spear thrust of the other. He then gets the second guard in a leg lock and subdues him. While his hands are still bound together. What a man!

As Jim fetches the flare gun from a trunk, the headman enters and sees the unconscious guards. He pulls his knife again, but this time Jim lays him low with a karate chop and takes away the knife. (Once again, that special Peace Corps commando training comes in handy!)

"Jim! You endanger the whole village!" pleads Arcadio, but Jim won't listen. Out into the night he goes.

Back to the idol and tonight's monster à trois. Fortunately for Alma, the creature attacks the runner-up in the Miss Virgin Sacrifice pageant first, while Alma shrieks and turns her head away. (Now that we're in a close-up, she's clearly wearing a body stocking.) Jim arrives just in time to see -- from a distance -- the monster decapitate its victim. Jim fires the flare gun at the creature, from so far away he has zero chance of hitting the thing. Thankfully, it's been terrified of fireworks since it was a little monster, so it runs off into the jungle.

Jim improvises a cute little teddy for Alma from his shirt, then they try to find help in the village. No one will let them in. They take refuge in an abandoned hut, where Alma exchanges her teddy for a more sensible sarong and halter. Alma tells Jim they must flee to the forest, because the islanders will try to kill them. They're afraid that if the beast is angered, it will come back and vent its anger on the entire village.

There are at least forty or fifty able-bodied males in this village, many of them possessing long sticks with those sharp, stabby things on the end of them. They're fishermen, so they've got lots of nets to tangle it in, if they feel a bit nervous about confronting the beast at close quarters. Chunks of coral that the women and children could throw at it are all over the place. But noooo …

The men appear, led by Arcadio's sergeant-at-arms, who I forgot to tell you gets to wear pants as a special mark of distinction. Jim fires a flare at them. Though they're a much closer target, he still can't hit the broad side of a barn with the thing. The islanders pursue them into the jungle, but cease stalking the pair when they get too near the Powers' spread.

Jim and Alma make it to the mansion, where those leaf piles are still smoldering. "You'll be safe from the Evil One here," Jim predicts confidently, but Alma isn't so sure. Goro and the tiny servants meet them. More scurrying and peeping from around corners by the little people, who I suspect were raised by feral cats. Goro conducts Jim and Alma to the parlor, while pausing briefly to maltreat one of the little people. There they meet Carla. She informs them Powers isn't feeling well: he had some kind of attack last night. He calls it migraine.

Goro looks a bit perturbed. Carla confides that Paul thinks it's epilepsy. (I don't know about you, but I'd never  question the judgment of someone who believes earthquakes sound like a recorded phone message from The Breather, with the reverb cranked way up.)

Paul appears, and he's eager to show Jim and Alma his latest catch: "A cockroach straight out of H.G. Wells!" (This has to be a reference to that author's classic short story, Empire of the Waterbugs, from an idea by Gregor Samsa.)

But it's just a plain ol' cucaracha, crawling up the inside of a specimen jar. Paul's mighty perplexed: just a short while ago, he tells them, it had horns and fangs, and tried to scrag a lizard. Carla backs him up. Jim thinks someone switched bugs on them, but Paul maintains it was never out of his sight until just now, when he went to fetch them. Jim suggests it mutated back into a regular cockroach, if that's possible. Mr. Know-It-All won't venture an opinion.

Goro returns, informs them he's prepared rooms for the new guests, and they leave. Carla shuts the door and leans against it, worriedly biting a thumbnail, while Paul scrutinizes his roach intently.

Later, in a bedroom jam-packed with creepy religious knick-knacks, Carla tries very hard to get her husband interested. But Paul's apparently in his dormant phase. Frustrated, she leaves him, and sneaks into Powers' bedroom. He's lying face-down on the bed. He rolls over, and Carla stares hungrily at his bare chest and legs, while he seems to be having a very … interesting dream. As she starts to climb into the sack with him, she's interrupted by that ubiquitous wet blanket, Goro. He insists the Master must not be disturbed.

"Uh, I just wanted to know if he was awake," stammers Carla. Or a part of him, anyway.

Carla scoots out the door. Goro closes and locks it behind her.

Next morning, at breakfast, Powers asks Alma if she's the headman's granddaughter. She answers in the affirmative, and apologizes for intruding; he invites her to stay as long as she wishes. Then the talk turns to last night and the non-human creature. Powers regretfully informs them there's no radio, and none of the fishing boats would likely survive the trip to the nearest island. He plans to trap the beast, though, with the villagers' cooperation. Paul's skeptical about that, but Powers promises when the time comes, he'll make them cooperate.

Even though Carla's donned her hot pink hotpants and coyly reminds him he'd promised to show her his departed wife's mosaics, Esteban would rather spend the morning hunting specimens with Paul. Later, out in the jungle, Paul is scratching his head over why even though other critters on the island show mutations, none of the islanders do. Esteban, always the good host, helpfully provides some more back-story: the islanders all came from a resettlement center. They didn't arrive on Blood Island until after the tests.

After a busy morning of mutated bug-gathering, the entire gang gathers to view the mosaics. Esteban fills them in on his life story: Mom was American. Her parents started a "trading center" on this isolated, uninhabited island and made such a success of it that they soon were able to build the mansion. One day, Esteban's dad came along (and that's how mutants are born).

Incredibly, Esteban is at least 50 years old, though he doesn't look a day over 30!

"Welcome to Shangri-La!" he jokes. Good analogy, except for that murderous lust monster roaming about at night raping and dismembering their young women. Or was that in the musical?

Esteban then fills them in about his dear, departed wife, who sickened and died from some inexplicable malady. Her skin turned dark, she ran a slight fever, then one day she expired in terrible pain.

Further questioning elicits the important plot point that she died within a year of being accidentally exposed to fallout, on their second honeymoon. So was Esteban, but apparently without any ill effects. All he got out of it, he says, was his schoolgirl complexion. And he feels surprisingly comfortable when flouncing about in a pleated tartan mini, white knee-socks and black patent-leather shoes.

Later that night, Carla, wearing her fetching black silk nightie, has decided to have another try at the Master. Or maybe she intends to do it Snow White style, with Powers' Oompa Loompas. Either way, she's on the prowl.

From the shadows, she spies shirtless Esteban, who seems to be having one of his fits. Carla follows, as he staggers down the staircase, terrified little people scattering before him. He stops to claw at his throat, then lurches out into the night. Carla follows. She's never done it with an epileptic before. At least he ought to have some different moves.

She enters the forest. Time for more exotic noises; the trees are ineffectually waving their tentacles again. It's like a really crappy, exceptionally stupid remake of the apple orchard scene in The Wizard of Oz. Carla screams for Esteban, and runs through the jungle. (Whoa don't look back to see.)

Straight into the waiting arms of the monster, of course.
Though that's admittedly an intimidating display of dentition -- more so than the monster's, in fact -- she should have known better than to try to bluff this non-human creature: there's simply no neck there to bite through! It tears her nightgown off, giving us a chaste flash of Carla's bare back and just a hint of buttocks before the blackout.

Back at the mansion, Paul bursts into Jim's bedroom, and tells him Carla's missing. Armed with a revolver and a machete, Jim and Paul venture into the jungle, with Alma bringing up the rear. Goro trails them. The trees are still thrashing around. Alma gets snagged by a root. Jim shoots at the tree, then heroically holds her hand or something, while Paul hacks at the root and frees her. They flee through the jungle.

Jim wants to turn back, but Paul won't give up the search for Carla. He runs off, and meets Goro, who commands him to return to the house. Paul demands to know what he's done with his wife. Goro tells him it's too late for her, and Paul attacks him with the machete. Goro dodges, then the two wrestle for the machete. Goro fatally wounds Paul, just as Jim shows up and for once demonstrates some good, or at least lucky marksmanship: he wings Goro, who disappears into the bushes.

Jim and Alma hear something moving in the jungle. It's the beast! No, it's only blood-smeared and exhausted Esteban, who stumbles into the clearing and collapses. He says he had another one of his fits, and woke up in the jungle. Jim breaks the news about Goro.

They help Esteban back to the mansion. He tells them he can manage by himself now, so Jim and Alma leave him to his own devices. As soon as he's alone, Esteban starts having another fit. He makes it to his bedroom, frantically searches for something. He finds a box, fumbles it open and spills a bunch of pink pills on the floor. It's too late: even as he reaches for the pills, his arm begins to mutate, turning black and sprouting moldy pepperoni slices.

Now, wait a second: Esteban's had these anti-monster pills all the time? And the ever-attentive Goro couldn't remind him to take his meds? Who prescribes these, anyway? This film certainly gives rise to a lot more questions than it answers. And it seems like a lot of heartache might have been avoided if Goro had just ordered one of those pill organizers from a catalog.

Esteban manages to conceal his deformity from Jim and Alma, and sends them chasing off after Goro. He locks himself in his room, as his horrific transformation continues. First he looks like a no-holds-barred depiction of the perils of masturbation. Then he gets lots of crepe hair -- I think shedding must be a real problem in the Powers household. Then patches of green fungus, and Andy Rooney eyebrows. The pizza toppings are breaking out all over his body. And his asthma starts acting up again.

Jim and Alma hear the monster's roars coming from the direction of the mansion. Jim wisely decides Powers can look after himself, and they should stick with the Goro-hunting. Or maybe just run away. Yet another trek through the Wacky Woods. There was another blip in the continuity here: without any transition Alma's on the ground and Jim's getting a big ol' hug from a tree -- which is kind of a turnabout is fair play situation, I guess. Cut to the monster descending the mansion's stairway. Back to Jim and Alma. She scrambles to her feet, and uses the machete to free Jim. They take off through the jungle again, nearly running smack into a tree that has Carla pieces gripped in its roots. They're somewhat horrified.

With the monster in -- ahem -- hot pursuit, Alma does the obligatory trip over her own feet and fall. She begs Jim to leave her, she's the one it wants. Jim shoots at the monster, but that doesn't stop it. (This assumes he could actually hit what he was aiming at.) Goro appears, and takes the gun away from Jim. Jim and Alma scamper off, while Goro tries to calm his Master down. Goro's summarily dismissed from the Master's service, with prejudice.

Jim and Alma return to the village. Jim gives a rousing speech to the islanders, and though they supposedly don't have a clue what he's saying, they commence throwing torches at the monster. It's a start, anyway.

The creature corners Alma in a hut, which the islanders set on fire. Jim rescues Alma, while the beast is trapped in the burning hut. Then a lightly seared Esteban emerges from the flames, falls at their feet and expires, and the truth about the non-human creature finally dawns on our hero. (To this day, bags of hammers die laughing at the mention of Jim.)

Thus concludes the tragic tale of Esteban, who could be said to have loved not wisely, but much too enthusiastically.

Sometime later, Alma's doing the traditional island "come and get it" dance for Jim, in front of their Mr. Bill head. The islanders have so many happy memories of the place, why shouldn't they want to celebrate there? After some amateurish vogueing, her dance climaxes with a roll in the dirt.

Grandpa Arcadio gratefully hands her off to the island's new sex monster: Jim. Torchlight glinting on his freshly Brylcreemed noggin, our invincibly dim hero is led in triumph by Alma to the local make-out spot, where they roll in the dirt together.

So ends this ghastly orgy of brutal terror. Or was that the other way around? Whatever.

To the untutored eye, Brides of Blood might appear to be just another Grade-Z monster flick, in a South Seas setting, with a little cheesecake and sadism tossed in to enliven an otherwise sub-pedestrian romp through the White Male Reality. But a closer examination reveals unexpected psychological depths.

Esteban clearly represents the eternal conflict between Id and Super-Ego, while Paul is that part of the male psyche which won't even cuddle after the twice-monthly, 15-second sex, but rolls right over and starts snoring. Jim, on the other hand, symbolizes Man's never-ending quest for petroleum-based grooming aids. Carla is of course the libido, which is high-maintenance, easily bored, and unable to refrain from humping everything in sight. Alma is the girl you'd take home to Mother, then steal her passport and employ her as a domestic/sex-slave.

When viewed in this light, it's clear the filmmakers reached deep into their dark nether regions to pluck this timely warning of the perils of atomic mutation and unbridled lust.

4 comments:

Green Eagle said...

"Starring Carla as Martha, Paul as George..."

But who gets to play Ringo?

D. Sidhe said...

Hey, guys. Scott, I need to threadjack.

So our beautiful fluffy twenty one year old kitty Iala died this last weekend. It was old age, we knew it was coming, and she died as I think she would have been content with, at home, in her perch on the bed, between me and my partner, both of us there at the end telling her we loved her and were grateful to have had the time with her. It sucked, but it wasn't terrible, just heartbreaking, if you understand that.

Iala, whose name is taken from a sort of bipedal cat vampire of Romanian folklore, could draw blood through carelessness, or when she was getting a pill, but she spent a lot of time happily showing off her belly to play venus flytrap, too. Which also drew blood. Well, vampire.

She was the most good natured cat I've ever met, and sweetly tolerant of our other cats, she spent a lot of time grooming her humans and sitting on top of them while we all slept. An adventurous, deeply amusing whirlwind in her younger days, as she got older she spent more time with social works like Groom Humans and Clean Water for Cats and Occupy Chair and Bed. We respected her work and tended to end up sleeping and sitting in weird configurations to not make her move.

She was six months or so when she started squatting our doorstep, and following me everywhere I went. This led to a confrontation with a truck, at which point we said "Fuck it" and took her in. She wasn't much good in the wild, but smart enough to find a good home for a long and spoiled life.

Some of my favorite moments, the time she managed to crawl behind the water heater and get stuck there so we had to drape a towel behind it for her to climb up. Her general willingness to not bat around the obnoxious kittens we adopted, even when they were playing with her tail. Her occasional late night roaming across the pillow covering my partner's face at night. The time she stalked by the dryer and smacked the door closed while the younger cat was sleeping in it.

She is survived by the young annoying girlcat Nagi, and her human slaves, who she always treated with patient contempt. She will be placed in a box in the closet with Cypress, and Tora, two other cats whose company she tolerated, and I'll talk to her when I walk by. Also, she liked boxes. And sunlit patches, to which I will occasionally move her when we spend time.

Scott, you can move this away from your much-needed lols review, or whatever you want.

My family here at WoC, you guys don't have to say anything if you don't want to, it's always hard to find things to say. If you could spare it, maybe a small tribute to Sheri's foundation, or just a hope for a sunny blanket in a window for Iala to watch squirrels from in the beyond.

Dr.BDH said...

'The islanders are carrying a lumpy, cloth-wrapped bundle on a litter and mouthing the monotonous chant which will accompany each and every one of their ceremonies: "Ba Ba -- Ba Ba Ba -- Ba Ba -- Ba!"'

Well, there's your sheep...

grouchomarxist said...

So sorry to hear that, D. Sidhe. Sounds like Iala had a good, long life, with people who loved her. If you gotta go, I can't think of a better way to do it than the send-off you gave her.