Mad Doctor of Blood Island.

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This Filipino fest of bloodletting and frights was released in 1969, the main character is not actually a he as such but more of an it, as the monster is a green blooded chlorophyll creature that resembles the Toxic Avenger on a bad day who resides on a remote island and is the result of an experiment gone horribly wrong, once a patient of the MAD DOCTOR referred to in the pictures title. The insane physician Dr. Lorca is portrayed by Ronald Remy, whilst John Ashley stars as Dr Bill Foster the hero of the tale, with Angelique Pettyjohn in the role of Sheila Willard providing the love interest and glamour in the film.

The musical score is the work of Filipino born composer Tito Arevalo, who’s rhythmic, percussive and dramatic music enhanced and punctuated the movies inventive storyline perfectly. It is a mystery to me why this score has not been issued before, it ticks all the correct boxes in the category of a horror soundtrack, but also contains some surprises that are appear in the form of enjoyable lighter moments, these are heard alongside pulsating and infectious up beat tracks which are in a way addictive, as once heard will be played over and over again. The orchestrations are polished, original and interesting, Arevalo throughout experimenting and combining instruments that one would think unlikely bed fellows, but each time the combinations work to great effect creating a consistently good listening experience. This is not a large scale score, neither is it a booming or overblown sounding soundtrack as in Hammer or AIP productions. Instead the composer has kept the proceedings quite low key and invented a work that not only serves the movie well, but manages to stand on its own two musical feet and entertain away from the images it was intended to enhance. For myself the stand out tracks include track 16, DANCE PART 2, which combines dramatic brass with choir that are embellished by the use of jangling and percussive beats, in many ways this composition is reminiscent of the dance sequence music from SOLOMON AND SHEBA but just more up tempo, it possesses a raw almost primitive sound that is both attractive and compelling. The TITLE MUSIC is certainly a highlight as its style and sound that consists of brass strings and timpani fused with chorale work sets the scene perfectly for what is to follow.
Track 8, Number 13, contains an almost melodic xylophone performance that picks out an uneasy sounding music box motif, which works in two ways for the listener, it relaxes in the first instant, but there is a slightly off key macabre sound to it that soon makes one realise all is not right when this music is employed But to select these three examples as being highlights is rather unfair as the entire score is a delicious slice of innovative film scoring from the 1960s, which I am confident will be of interest to anyone who is a collector of film music. This is the first release on Elysee Productions and is a credit to the label, sound quality is very good and it is presented with colourful and striking cover art and a booklet that includes very detailed and informative notes on how the score came to be released. The CD is a limited edition of just 1000 so it would be a good idea to order your copy as soon as possible. Hopefully Elysee will unearth more of these lost treasures in the future and create a catalogue of somewhat obscure but at the same time worthy releases. Recommended.

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