Terror is a Man (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: David Steigman
  • Review Date: Dec 12, 2018
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Terror is a Man (Blu-ray Review)

Director

Gerardo de Leon/Eddie Romero

Release Date(s)

1959 (November 13, 2018)

Studio(s)

Valiant Films/Hemisphere Pictures (Severin Films)
  • Film/Program Grade: B
  • Video Grade: B
  • Audio Grade: C-
  • Extras Grade: B+

Terror is a Man (Blu-ray Disc)

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Review

The Blood Island series encompasses four low budget horror ventures made in the Philippines by directors Gerardo de Leon and Eddie Romero throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. The four films, Terror is a Man, Brides of Blood, Mad Doctor of Blood Island, and Beast of Blood, were mostly co-directed by the two, while the latter was helmed by Romero himself, always present as an active producer. Each of the four films were also successful with drive-in audiences, giving them a taste of the exploitation boom that would soon come into being.

Terror is a Man revolves around a mad scientist, Dr. Girard (Francis Lederer). Living on a secluded island, he begins experimenting with animals, attempting to transform them into human beings. A group of shipwrecked survivors, including a man named William (Richard Derr), are given shelter by the doctor and his estranged wife Frances (Greta Thyssen), whom William soon becomes romantically involved with. It isn’t long before Dr. Girard’s primary experiment, a half-man, half-panther like creature, escapes and savagely kills some of the island’s natives.

Arguably the best in the series, Terror is a Man is an atmospheric film with good direction and above average performances. Although the film isn’t all that gory, a brief moment during a surgical scene was equipped with a ringing bell when the actual cutting occurs, which was installed as a gimmick to warn the more squeamish of theater patrons. By today’s standards, it’s still fairly gruesome as the scene was shot by carving into an actual pig. Regardless, it worked in helping to bring in willing audiences to see it in 1959.

Despite being beloved films by deep-seated horror film fans, Eddie Romero considers the Blood Island films to be the worst that he ever took part in. While you can certainly understand why he would feel that way, it’s easy to see the charm in these films. They’re not meant to be anything more than what they are: exploitative monster movies meant to entertain teenagers who would naturally be spending the majority of the running time doing other things. But even with their limitations, the fact that the Blood Island series is comprehensible at all is saying something.

Severin Films brings Terror is a Man in its uncut form to Blu-ray separately from its inclusion in The Blood Island Collection. It comes sourced from a “new 4K scan from a fine-grain print recently discovered at the UCLA Film Archive”. Presented full frame, it’s an excellent black and white presentation with good contrast and grayscale. There’s a fine layer of grain on display with some areas showing signs of mild wear, including some scratches, but otherwise, everything is stable, clean, and film-like throughout. For the audio Terror is a Man features an English 2.0 mono DTS-HD track. It’s full of crackle, dropouts, hiss, and other damage, but dialogue, score, and sound effects can all be heard clearly. There are also optional subtitles in English SDH.

It also features a decent set of extras. There’s Man Becomes Creature, a 6-minute interview with Hemisphere marketing consultant Samuel M. Sherman; Dawn of Blood Island, a 5-minute interview with co-director Eddie Romero; Terror Creature, a 3-minute interview with author Pete Tombs; When the Bell Rings, a 2-minute interview with critic Mark Holcomb; the film’s trailer; and an animated poster and still gallery containing 36 images.

Offering fans a chance to own some of these films without having to shell out a larger amount of money for The Blood Island Collection Blu-ray boxed set, Severin Films’ treatment of Terror is a Man is highly commendable. Being able to see the film in high definition at all is miracle unto itself, but in such a fine release with a nice amount of extras, it’s too good to be true for long-time fans.

– David Steigman (with Tim Salmons)

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