LETS GET THE BANNED BACK TOGETHER! Ep. 4 Tomb Of The Living Dead (aka The Mad Doctor of Blood Island) – 1969

““We thought it was one of the worst things we ever did… I can’t account for it.”


Who made it? Directed by Eddie Romero  & Gerry DeLeon | Written by Reuben Canoy| Director Of Photography Justo Paulino| Special Effects “Not recorded”

Who’s in it? John Ashley | Angelique Pettyjohn | Eddie Garcia | Ronald Remy

If you weren’t watching this the week it came out, you might have been watching… Easy Rider / Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed / Oliver / The Longest Day

Production notes and whatnot



What’s it all about?

Well it starts with a warning. Classic William Castle style gimmick. (see John Goodman in “Matinee” for a sense of the silliness of these tingle-o-vision gimmicks).

Viewers and cinema goers are asked to imbibe a green liquid and chant the initiation rites oath of Green Blood, which will protect them. (Green liquid available in the foyer next to the Butterkist and Kia Ora, I assume).

Then we’re straight in to a sudden murder on a tropical island. Not clear who or what and no idea why. A small glimpse of a human-ish creature is all we get. A ship arrives at what we discover is Blood Island where a mixed group of seafarers are all here with their own motives: family reunions, research, the usual. One looks to meet her father, another to get their mother home. The ship’s captain warns the new arrivals of a curse, green-blooded men escaping into the sea.

Now pretty much trapped on the island until the boat returns for them, the travellers meet the suspicious Dr Lorca, (imagine Dr Moreau being played by a fat Cuban cocaine dealer) who refuses to give too many details on why the inhabitants refuse to leave or what caused the death of one of the islanders. But an eerie atmosphere invades the jungle, and there is much tribal whispering.

We discover the woman’s father is an alcoholic who is virtally bedridden by drink. Evidence comes to light that son’s mother refuses to leave since the death of her husband, Ramon. However investigation reveals upon opening his coffin, no body to be found. Perhaps there is more to Ramons’s death than meets the eye?

Meanwhile the island is stalked by the monster from the opening scene. Green skinned but humanoid, there are random violent attacks on tribes-people in the jungle throughout.

After a number of chases, deaths and puzzles it is revealed Dr Lorca has been conducting experiments on the island, working on a cancer treatment based on chlorophyll. A victim of one of these experiments is Ramon, who has transformed into the green-blooded beast that terrorises the island.  

In the final confrontation with the monster, folk are killed but the monster briefly is redeemed when it recalls its humanity. A fire in the laboratory lays waste to the evidence of the weird experiments as the few survivors depart on the ship. Although are they alone..?

Is it any good?

Hahahahaha. No. This was a treat for none of the reasons it should be. First of all, I found a copy free on YouTube (which is helpful, because the last damned thing I want is to spend a fortune collating knock-off DVDs to put in the bin after a £9.99 plus shipping). But then not a great sign, as movie available free on YouTube do tend to have a “fuck it, watch the damned thing, I don’t give a shit” attitude from the producers. Which tends not to happen with classics.

But I found the movie under the title “Tomb Of The Lving Dead (1969) hosted by Elvira Mistress of the Dark (full horror movie).

S0 let’s talk about this, as it’s a darn sight more entertaining than the messy, unwatchable, zoomy silly, underlit drivel that is Tomb Of The Living Dead.

Elvira I had heard of. Mainly, to be honest, as a plastic clip-together figurine one might find in a toy or model-shop. There was a spate of these in, I think, the 70s. Made by Aurora and advertised in the back of horror comics and annuals. Wolfmen, Dracula etc.

All Hammer favourites for you to build and paint to decorate your bedroom and stop girls coming to visit. In my head (I’ll check now) there was one of a very vampy, voluptuous, bee-hived vixeny maiden called Elvira. Or was that a “Mobius” model? Rings a bell. Let me see.

Ah yes. Here you go. These sorts of delights always appealed to a young me. I never got one. But this is who I knew Elvira as. Just a sort of sexy Morticia Adams type. It turns out Elvira was a US late night cable TV host who would “introduce” late night monster movies with sarcastic, cheeky, valley-girl sass as she lounged on a chaise barely visible over her teutonic cleavage. For many, she was the face of late-night-tv and the face of horror movies.

This version, with the intros and – it turns out – interruptions for cheap puns and hoary old gags at the movie’s expense – is the one on YouTube. So it was this version I “enjoyed.”

Oh who am I kidding. There is nothing realty to enjoy about this early slasher/splatter. Or very little at least.

The opening gimmicky “drink the potion” warning is fun. And apparently was, in limited cinemas, distributed to patrons as a sickly drink. The titles are the first I’ve seen to actually be in that “drippy blood” font, which fans of the Young Ones will recognise from their horror episode “Nasty.”

Our two heroes on the boat – destined of course to fall in love – are played with hammy gusto by actors who resemble the love child of Shakin’ Stevens and Hawaii 5’0s Jack Lord. plus a young Yootha Joyce-a-like.

However it’s the production, once again, that makes it almost unwatchable. The lighting of the sets is blindingly harsh, making the dark shadowy scenes pretty much a pure black screen. The odd flash of colour or light, but endless chases and confrontations, murders and fights take place in almost glaring white or ink black. Among the leaves and fronds of the jungle, or the corners and shadows of laboratories, it’s almost impossible to see what’s going on.

This helps a bit, of course, when one is trying to save money on effects. The monster, when finally revealed, is an odd looking fucker. Clearly the “man in a boiler suit” type, the face and head are such a mess of prosthetics, what looks like a leather gimp mask and who knows what as a hairstyle, the creature – all flailing arms and growling – belongs more happily in the Cantina on Tatooine, chatting with Obi Wan Kenobi and Chewbacca about Kessel runs.

The other aspect of the production and cinematography which had me squinting and clutching my temples is the murder “effect.” Director of photography Justo Paulino had either fought and lost a battle with the director and was forced to employ an absurd, vertigo inducing woozy camera effect every-time the monster made a kill. Or he’s just discovered a new “zoom in/zoom out” button on his camera and wanted to get his money’s worth. But the camera whips in and out and in and out by an inch like a lusty teenager after too much Diamond White, making the viewer positively air-sick.

The score is impossibly thundering and camp, like having someone shout “dun dUN DAAAHHH!” in your face every fifteen seconds. Strings and brass going full bonkers at every opportunity to suggest thrills that simply aren’t there.

Oh and there are no living dead. Clearly a title conjoured up to take advanteg of George A Romero’s hit, plus a director with the surname was bound to have punters queuing up for what they thought might be a part-two chiller, only to find a limping, lame, noisy mess of an unwatchable clunker with the contrast turned up to eleven.


I mean not pleasant. Not pleasant at all. But certainly not stomach-churning, or “turn away” shocking. The effects are the usual cheap standby of “film a flailing limb or sweeping knife. The film a screaming face. Then the angry face of the killer. Then zoom in on a close up of fake-looking bones and blood and gizzard bits in a pile of bright blood lying strewn on the jungle floor.”]

It’s all “before” shots and “after” shots, when true gore fans are hungry for the “during.” There are no “during” shots.

Ban worthy?

Tasteless, in its relentless staking and picking off. You could ban it for being boring, but that’s not a crime. A case of “ban it because it “looks” nasty and “sounds” nasty,” but honestly, it’s campy gore that would look unconvincing in an episode of Buffy.

What does it remind me of?

Nothing really sticks out. It has the aesthetic of the other cheapies we’ve seen so far, (Blood Feast /Blood Rites) and we will be back in the jungle soon enough when we hit the zombies of the eighties. But honestly, I spend so much time tipping and dipping the laptop screen to try and get the glare off to see what the hell was going on, I didn’t have the time or interest to engage enough.

Where to find it?

It’s here on YouTube for free! Featuring Elvira and her sarky inerruptions.

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