• Twilight People, The

    Released by: VCI Entertainment
    Released on: January 23rd, 2018.
    Director: Eddie Romero
    Cast: John Ashley, Pat Woodell, Jan Merlin, Pam Grier, Eddie Garcia, Charles Macaulay
    Year: 1972
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Eddie Romero in his native homeland of The Philippines, The Twilight People tells the story of an adventurer named Matt Farrell (played, of course, by Blood Island’s most famous leading man, John Ashley) is kidnapped on a diving trip. He’s taken by his captors to a remote island somewhere in the Pacific inhabited by bizarre creatures. It’s here that he’s introduced to the man in charge, one Dr. Gordon (Charles Macaulay). Like all good doctors who operate off of remote islands, Gordon has a hot daughter in the form of Neva (Pat Woodell).

    It turns out that Dr. Gordon has kidnapped Matt because he wants to use him in his ongoing series of genetic experiments wherein he’s splicing together DNA or something in order to create the next order of man, some so-called super-beings. Quite understandably, Farrell isn’t having any of this and attempts to escape, but of course there is the doctor’s small army of henchmen to deal with. Eventually he talks Neva into leaving with him, hoping to free the creatures that Gordon has created (one of whom is a panther woman played by Pam Grier) and kept in a life of servitude.

    A delightfully garish low budget take on The Island Of Dr. Moreau (with a few changes made to the basic story), The Twilight People is enjoyable and briskly paced nonsense. The makeup effects sometimes work better than others – Pam Grier is kind of okay as the panther lady, but then there’s the infamous scene where bat-man creature flies through the air that doesn’t work… at all. It’s great to see it, because it’s completely insane, but it isn’t in the least bit convincing.

    But it’s fun, and that’s what is most important when evaluating a movie like this. Romero wasn’t setting out to make a high art film, he was making cheap drive-in fodder and, on that level, The Twilight People works well enough. The pacing is quick and there’s lots of action here. The creatures get plenty of screen time and the Filipino locations give the movie the desired ‘exotic’ look that a picture like this needs to work on a visual level. The camera work employed in the film is fine, and while the story is a little choppy in spots, it doesn’t matter that much.

    Ashley starred in plenty of trash/horror/exploitation pictures during the boom years of The Philippines’ then burgeoning film industry. Before this stint, he had earlier made a bunch of juvenile delinquent films, beach party pictures and television work and here he makes for an amiable leading man. He doesn’t have that much chemistry with Petticoat Junction’s foxy star Pat Woodell – who popped up in a few Filipino-lensed exploitation movies around this time like The Big Doll House and Woman Hunt – but it hardly matters, as their budding romance is fairly shallow anyway. It’s pretty cool seeing Pam Grier play an ass kicking panther lady though!


    VCI rolls out The Twilight People for Blu-ray on a 50GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.78.1 and taken from a 2k scan of the 35mm negative. The image has some issues – but first, the good. Detail isn’t half bad here and the image hasn’t been slathered in DNR. There’s very little print damage to note and the film is given a decent bit rate, avoiding compression pit falls. The bad? The colors here are seriously weird. It seems like some pretty intense damage has occurred, causing sometimes very drastic shifts in color timing not just from scene to scene, but sometimes in the same shot. It’s bizarre – skies will sometimes appear perfectly blue, and other times look yellow or even orange. You can see it in the screen caps below and it’s pretty strange. It’s a shame, as otherwise the transfer is actually pretty good.

    The English language LPCM Mono track on the disc is fine for what it is. A few obvious synch issues point to less than perfect ADR, but aside from that if some of the audio is a little on the flat side the dialogue is clean and clear and the levels are properly balanced throughout. Optional English subtitles are provided.

    Extras start off with a commentary track from David Del Valle and David Decoteau that does a fine job of placing this particular picture into context alongside some similar films and comparing it to other Filipino-made exploitation and horror pictures of the same era. There’s lots of talk here about the cast and the crew, Eddie Romero’s direction and some of the effects and set design work too.

    Also included is an hour-long interview with director Eddie Romero. The video quality is more than a little rough (Romero passed away in 2013 so this was obviously shot some time ago) but those with an interest in the director’s work or the unique genre pictures that were being churned out in his homeland for a while will absolutely appreciate the inclusion of this piece. It covers how he got into filmmaking as well as some of his ‘greatest hits’ and it finds the amiable director in fine form, clearly having a good time telling his story here.

    Finishing off the supplemental package is a trailer, a few TV spots, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    The Twilight People is worth seeing just for the screwy bat-man sequence alone, but on top of that it’s got an interesting cast, some bizarre but memorable set pieces and a lot of entertainment value all working in its favor. As to the presentation, it’s clear that there were issues with the elements – but the movie itself is a kick and the supplements add some value to the package.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      I love this stupid movie and am pissed that the color scheme is out of whack. VCI strikes again! I might pick it up if it gets down to $10 or so, but I'm not going to spend $20+ for a bd that could be much better.
    1. John Bernhard's Avatar
      John Bernhard -
      Looks like they really had the OCN but are so technically unaware they don't know negatives require scene by scene color timing.