Cast & Crew
While scuba diving in the South Seas, soldier of fortune Matt Farrell is kidnapped by a swarm of divers under the command of the sinister Steinman, who takes him to the isolated island on which Dr. Gordon lives with his devoted daughter Neva. There, Gordon explains his grandiose plan to use Matt in an experiment to build a superior being who will be able to survive the ravages of pollution and nuclear war that Gordon is certain will soon befall Earth. That night, after Matt is locked in his room, he jimmies the lock and sneaks into the doctor's office. While rifling through the files, he comes upon some newspaper clippings identifying Gordon as a Nobel Laureate professor who was fired from a university along with his scientist wife Mary. Matt then descends into a basement laboratory where he finds a severed head encased in a glass jar. The next morning, Steinman lasciviously leers at Matt and, after warning him about the impossibility of escaping, hints that he knows of his escapade the previous evening. Later, Neva, who worships her father as a genius, becomes upset when Gordon refers to the men and women he has imprisoned in cages for use in his experiments as "subjects." When Gordon sends Neva to examine Matt, Matt asks about her mother. After Neva replies that she was a baby when her mother died, Matt kisses her, and after briefly responding to his embrace, she abruptly leaves. Descending the stairs, Neva opens a secret passage leading into a tunnel. Matt follows and finds her in a cave filled with caged, deformed people, the victims of her father's earlier experiments. When one of the subjects, The Panther Woman, breaks out of her cage and attacks Neva, Matt comes to her rescue. Beginning to fall in love with Matt, Neva questions her father about the ethics of his experiments and asks him to set Matt free. Gordon retorts that he is just trying to save lives and that he plans to implant Matt's brain impulses into a new species of superior beings. Later, Matt surreptitiously watches as a new arrival, Juan Pereira, is rolled on a cart into an operating room. Once Pereira is submerged in a vat of liquid, Neva and Gordon begin surgery, but when some of Pereira's blood accidentally spurts out at Neva, she races panicked from the operating room. Matt follows her as she runs into her bathroom and tries to kill herself by taking a handful of pills. Knocking the pills from her hand, Matt wrestles her to the ground, and as they start to kiss, Steinman and Gordon enter. Gordon then orders Matt taken to the cave to be locked in a cage. Afterward, Neva sneaks into Steinman's room and points a rifle at his head. After forcibly disarming her, Steinman calls her a "dirty whore," prompting Neva to accuse him of wanting Matt for himself. Before Steinman can harm Neva, he passes out from a glass of milk he has just consumed, unaware that Neva had drugged it. Hurrying to the cave, Neva frees Matt, but he insists that she and the group of creatures flee through the tunnel while he takes care of Steinman. After Neva leads the creatures, consisting of The Panther Woman, The Antelope Man, The Bat Man, The Ape Man and The Wolf Woman, through the secret tunnel and into the forest, Matt kidnaps Gordon and enters the forest, hoping to lead Steinman away from Neva. Soon after, Steinman awakens and dispatches three of his thugs to follow Neva while he and the others pursue Matt. Neva, who treats the poor, unfortunate creatures as if they were human, asks The Panther Woman to go back and make sure they are not being followed. When The Panther Woman sees Steinman's three thugs, she pounces on one and kills him. As Gordon and Matt proceed through the underbrush, Matt spies some movement and ties Gordon to a tree while he investigates. When Matt returns, he finds that Gordon is gone. Impatient for The Panther Woman to return, Neva sends The Antelope Man to look for her. The Antelope Man reaches The Panther Woman just as she mauls the other two thugs. As The Panther Woman finishes off one of the men, the other shoots The Antelope Man and manages to fire off a flare to alert Steinman as to their position. Bloodthirsty, The Panther Woman attacks the wounded Antelope Man, but The Wolf Woman, who is in love with The Antelope Man, comes to his rescue, after which The Antelope Man kills The Panther Woman with the butt of the rifle. While Steinman and his men make their way to the point from which the flare was fired, Neva decides they must split up and departs with The Ape Man, who scouts ahead. After several of Steinman's men shoot The Ape Man and take Neva prisoner, Steinman and his thugs attack and kill The Wolf Woman and Antelope Man, but The Bat Man escapes. Alerted by the sound of gunfire, Matt arrives and chases Steinman, who has been wounded. Steinman takes refuge behind some rocks, but by the time Matt walks into his line of fire, Steinman has died. Gordon, who had been freed by Steinman's men, returns to the mansion where, after extracting the files from his office, he runs into the tunnel. The Bat Man has also returned to the mansion and slays the thugs with his fangs. Gordon's progress through the tunnel is blocked by his wife Mary, her face hideously deformed by one her husband's experiments. When Mary threatens him with a knife, Gordon asserts that it was her decision to volunteer for the experiment. Enraged, Mary stabs him and flees. Soon after, Matt and Neva reach the end of the tunnel and find Gordon's body. As Neva cradles her father's dead body, The Bat Man, who had previously been unable to fly, soars off into the horizon.
Roberto A. Formoso
The Twilight People
The story obviously had a tremendous impact on producer Eddie Romero, a very prolific filmmaker in the Philippines who also acted as screenwriter and director on numerous films. In the late '50s he became a major player in the influx of American production money pouring into the country, which would reach an apex when Roger Corman and his compatriots became involved the following two decades. Romero was instrumental in crafting the first English-language Filipino horror film to really break out in America, Terror Is a Man (1959), which alters the names of Wells' characters but sticks as close to the plot as possible without skirting into outright plagiarism (or crosses over it, depending on whom you believe). The film (also reissued as Blood Creature) was a massive success and spawned more "Blood Island" films (with less overt Wells lifts), Mad Doctor of Blood Island and Brides of Blood (both 1968).
Still not done with milking the Moreau story for all it was worth, Romero returned to it one last time in 1972 with The Twilight People, which made the wise decision to cast a young Pam Grier as the obligatory human-panther woman hybrid. Still starting off her career, Grier donned a fake nose to play Ayesa, one of the mutants created on a remote island by the unethical former SS physician, Dr. Gordon (Charles Macaulay). She's really more of a supporting character here, but Grier was already starting to break out thanks to her other films made in the Philippines around the same time for producer Roger Corman and director Jack Hill, The Big Doll House (1971) and The Big Bird Cage (1972).
In fact, The Twilight People was an actual Corman film during production for his usual company, New World Pictures, but the involvement of producer Lawrence Woolner (who had successfully imported many Italian genre films in the 1960s) became tricky when the two split their partnership. As a result The Twilight People wound up one of the inaugural titles released by Woolner's new Dimension Pictures, which became a busy 1970s distributor of exploitation films including Kingdom of the Spiders (1977), Black Shampoo (1976), and Ruby (1977). Like Terror Is a Man, The Twilight People turned out to be quite popular, particularly as a regular entry in double and triple bills at drive-ins, and it proved to be a lucrative programming title for several years to come. Evidently American filmmakers must have taken notice by this point, as this would prove to be the swan song for Filipino Moreau adaptations. An American version starring Burt Lancaster would follow in 1977, oddly the first to actually bear the original title of Wells' novel, with another, far more ill-fated one directed by John Frankenheimer and starring Marlon Brandon and Val Kilmer becoming an oddball cult sensation of sorts in 1996. However, no other adaptation (official or unofficial) quite captures the same atmosphere as this Eddie Romero offering as it also serves now as a snapshot of an international partnership between the Philippines and the U.S. that would turn out to be very healthy and incredibly productive for many years to come.
By Nathaniel Thompson
The Twilight People
The opening credits state that the film was copyrighted by Four Star Associates, Ltd. in 1972, but it was not registered for copyright at that time. However, a video edition of the film was registered for copyright on May 9, 1994 under number PA-729-365. Richard
Abelardo's onscreen credit reads "Sets and Optical Effects by Richard Abelardo." Although a Hollywood Reporter production chart places Sol Boggs, Brooke Mills and Leotus Key in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
While only Four Star Associates, Ltd. is credited onscreen as the production company, Hollywood Reporter production charts state that The Twilight People was a co-production of Four Star Associates, Ltd. and Roger Corman's New World Pictures. Four Associates, Ltd. was a Philippine production company jointly owned by Eddie Romero, who produced, directed and co-wrote the script for The Twilight People; John Ashley, who starred in and produced the film; and David J. Cohen and Bev Miller, who served as executive producer and associate producer, respectively. The Twilight People was also the first release of Dimension Pictures, Inc., a company founded by Lawrence H. Woolner. Although The Twilight People has some similarities to H.G. Wells's novel The Island of Dr. Moreau and to the 1959 picture Terror Is a Man, which was also produced by Romero and filmed in the Philippines, neither was acknowledged as a source for the film.
Released in United States 1973
Released in United States 1973