The Twilight People Blu Ray Review (VCI Entertainment)
The Twilight People (aKa Island of the Twilight People & Beasts) is a 1972 horror film directed by Filipino filmmaker Eddie Romero (Black Mama White Mama, Brides of Blood, Mad Doctor of Blood Island, Beast of Blood, Savage Sisters, & The Woman Hunt). The legendary Roger Corman was an uncredited executive producer on this. It was originally made for New World Pictures. Long time collaborator John Ashley (How to Make a Monster, Hell on Wheels, Black Mamba, & Sudden Death) also a producer on this besides being the main actor for this production. After a falling out with Corman, producer Lawrence Woolner (Sweet Sugar, Terminal Island, & Raw Force) took it to Dimension Pictures for distribution. The budget for this was $150,000. The Twilight People was a very popular film at the Drive In scene & it played in various double or triple bills all over. Romero produced 1959’s Terror is a Man which was also based on H. G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau just like this film.
While diving, Matt Farrell (John Ashley) is kidnapped by a local crew ran by Neva Gordon (played by: Pat Woodell from The Big Doll House, The Woman Hunt, & Class of ’74) & Steinman (played by: Jan Merlin from The Rough Riders, The Hindenburg, Nowhere to Run, & Permanent Record). They know about him from being in magazines. He is taken to a isolated island where mad scientist Dr. Gordon (played by: Charles Macaulay from Blacula, Brute Corps, The House of Seven Corpses, & The Big Red One) is experimenting on humans & animals trying to create a super being. He looks around the island & finds various shady evidence that puts more fear into his current situation. Tension between the hunter Steinman & his soon to be prey Farrell starts to build up. Dr. Gordon wants Farrell as his next test subject but his daughter Neva starts to question his work after a failed attempt from before. She starts to get closer to the stranger known as Farrell. They are attracted to each other & end up falling in love. She’s had enough of these cruel experiments her father is putting everyone through & decides to fight against this questionable behavior. She takes a stance when she helps Farrell & the previous test subjects that are now a half animal half human hybrid. Farrell uses himself as a distraction so the others can get a head start from the dangerous Steinman. Neva sends Ayesa (played by: the legendary Pam Grier from Jackie Brown, Foxy Brown, Coffy, Black Mama White Mama, Big Doll House, & The Big Bird Cage) back for help. She is a beast for murder. Steinman has been waiting for this moment all along & leads his men to hunt them all down without hesitation. It’s a battle of survival between the two groups. Who will win this war?
The Twilight People can be considered many things including a cross between 1932’s Island of Lost Souls & The Most Dangerous Game from that same year. I am sure most will see it as a cheap The Island of Dr. Moreau rip off. Then again that novel has a history of troubled film adaptations. This version knows exactly what it’s doing with the source material & just has fun with it. The make up effects are very low budget & amateur but they provide some comedy for this. I was impressed with the set pieces, production design, & locations for the feature. This is the kind of movie you turn your brain off & just enjoy the entertainment. It keeps your attention so it’s definitely never boring & the characters keep you wanting more. Eddie Romero was good at turning nothing into something with the limited funds he had to make stuff like this. He knew his audience & market so he catered to their preferences for a satisfactory end product.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from VCI Entertainment! VCI originally released The Twilight People on DVD for the very first time in late 2000. They also included it in their Devils, Demons, and Monsters & Scream Theater sets with various other horror films from them. This blu ray is the best it’s ever looked on home video. This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer is remastered in 2K from the 35MM negative. Also it’s in widescreen for the very first time! Those are the positive points of this release. If you enjoy this film or you are curious about it you can’t really do much about it’s overall high definition presentation. It really comes down to do you want this released or would you rather have it lost & forgotten forever? I know these days it’s rough for labels to put out anything without being attacked for their product not being 100% perfect. As a long time fan of cinema I do realize everything will not be reference quality when it comes to video & sound. Sometimes you have be happy with anything you get when comes to lower budget movies like this. Now, let’s get into the negatives of this release. The new transfer is not consistent at all when it comes to quality. It changes all over through out the whole running time. The night scenes really suffer the worst in this situation. The English: LPCM 2.0 track is okay. The audio also has a low but noticeable hiss during the whole movie. It’s still probably the best you are going to get for The Twilight People when it comes to this format.
Let’s discuss the special features included on this VCI blu ray release. The real treat on this disc is the Audio Commentary from film historian/author David Del Valle & cult director David Decoteau. These two are some of my favorites when it comes to commentaries on genre releases. They keep you well informed & you end up learning lots of history from the environment at the time plus the production of this. I actually prefer this to the standard audio track. Next, you get nearly an hour interview with director Eddie Romero which covers lots of topics. It probably the best discussion I’ve seen with him & I own more than a few releases with him on it. It’s easy motivation for you to check out this blu ray release from VCI with these two extras I just talked about despite it’s video issues. Last not least it also includes the original trailer & 3 tv spots for The Twilight People. It comes with a DVD & reverse artwork. I still RECOMMEND this for the entertaining film & quality bonus material, just be ready for a rougher presentation. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!