Thursday, April 17, 2014
Beast Of The Yellow Night!
Beast of the Yellow Night is a Philippines horror import directed by Eddie Romero and starring John Ashley. In fact Romero and Ashley specifically teamed up in 1971 to make this surprisingly restrained horror flick after the drive-in success of the "Blood Island Trilogy" . But while those three movies were intentionally lurid and violent, this one feels different.
It begins in 1945, at the end of WWII when the murderously evil John Langdon, a U.S. military deserter escapes prison and goes on a spree of violent crime. He is tracked down by the Philippines police and fatally shot. But he doesn't die immediately, and as he wanders the jungle slowly and painfully passing away he encounters a stranger who dispassionately offers him a deal, a deal which will give him an eternal existence on Earth. The bargain is sealed when Langdon consumes the remains of a woman who was killed trying to bringing him assistance. The story then cuts to the present day (more or less) and we find that the Stranger (Could it be...Satan? Of course!) has had Langdon assume the identities of various evil folks over the years, but this latest time he takes on the guise of a seemingly dead industrialist and Langdon assumes his life, with wife and all that entails. Then things begin to get hairy when Langdon seems to want to do good things, such as spare his wife a life of sadness. Satan isn't pleased and turns Langdon into a Demon/Werewolf monster who sets about roaming the night killing folks. He kills then meets a blind old man who seems to offer him insight into his fate and eventually despite the police who are hot on his trail, his wife who stands by him regardless, and the Devil who keeps making things difficult he tries to make something good happen. It's a tough sale for sure.
The surprising thing about this movie, especially since I watched it having just finished the "Blood Island" movies was the somber and restrained way in which the story unfolds. Ashley is soft-spoken, as is the Devil actually. The tone is a relatively serious one with dialogue which seems oddly philosophical and reflective. Some of it seems a bit garbled, but the attempt to bring some intelligence to this defacto werewolf movie is admirable. This movie is plenty bloody and gross, but it's also plenty serious. Surprising.