Terror Is a Man (1959)

Terror Is a Man (1959) movie poster

director Gerardo de Leon
viewed: 12/03/2015

Terror is a Man … except when it’s not.  In this case, terror is a “cat man,” a humanoid hybrid “evolved” by a mad scientist from panther to a mummied-up biped with big whiskers, fangs, and cute ears.

This is the first of the “Blood Island” flicks from Gerardo de Leon and Eddie Romero, later to be followed by Brides of Blood (1968), Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968) and Beast of Blood (1971).  Before watching Brides of Blood earlier this year, I don’t think I’d ever seen a Filipino movie ever.  And frankly, I don’t know that I really knew anything at all about de Leon or Romero before seeing Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010) which I just saw last year.  So far, their films have been fun.

Terror is a Man is a down-scaled version of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau.  Scaled down because Dr. Charles Girard (Francis Lederer) has only one beast he’s trying to transform, not a whole population of creatures.  Terror is a Man is a very good-looking and well-produced black-and-white thriller.  That said, it’s not a particularly thrilling thriller.  Some have compared it to a Val Lewton picture, which is a reasonable enough conceit.

It does interestingly feature one scene of gore that is so fast that you could easily miss it.  Of course, the film warns you about this in a pre-title notification.  A bell rings right before the scene of flesh being cut open and right after, for the squeamish to have a chance to close their eyes.  This William Castle-esque moment is literal “blink and you’ll miss it” moment, perhaps suggesting more lurid exploitation moments to come in the cycle that was not yet a cycle yet.

It also features Greta Thyssen, Danish-born bombshell that never exploded, not for lack of looks.

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