BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT (1971)
Directed by Eddie Romero
Written by Eddie Romero
Starring John Ashley, Mary Charlotte Wilcox, Leopoldo Salcedo, Eddie Garcia, Ken Metcalfe, Andres Centenera, Joonee Gamboa, & Vic Diaz as Satan!
BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT is one of those films from the late sixties and early seventies that was filmed in the Philippines because it was so much easier to do so. Now that I think of it, it’s probably cheaper to do it there today. Nevertheless, the Filipino setting definitely sets this unconventional werewolf film apart from the rest of the pack.
The Elvis-like John Ashley plays Joseph Langdon, an American ne’er-do-well who broke just about every law imaginable during the war, but as he lay broken and bleeding in the jungle, Langdon makes a deal with Satan (Vic Diaz) and devours the vilest of meats (most likely, human flesh). In doing so, Langdon is cursed with immortality and turns into a blood thirsty monster when the moon is shines full. Assuming the identity of a recently deceased man, Langdon finds himself in the identity of Philip Rogers, married to the indecisive Julia (Mary Charlotte Wilcox). But Langdon discovers he is enamored with Julia and seeks to finally find the cure to his ancient curse. Satan, though, doesn’t loosen his grasp so easily.
The script of BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT is smarter than it should be. Filmed on the cheap and sporting makeup that looks like someone just dumped soup and hair on Ashley’s face, BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT should have been forgotten as soon as it was made. But dammit if filmmaker Eddie Romero doesn’t know how to turn a poetic and often deeply philosophical phrase. My favorite parts of this film are the lengthy talks between Langdon and Satan as they ponder the pros and cons of eternal life. These moments are brilliantly conversed, making me forgive the film of its shortcomings.
There is a fair amount of gore here when Langdon shows his wolfier side. He’s never called a werewolf, but he is definitely cursed in the same sense the leads in the classic Universal WOLF MAN, Hammer’s CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF, and Paul Naschy’s famous Waldemar Daninsky were-tales. Unlike today’s more conventional lycanthrope stories, where a person is cursed by the bite of a wolf, those classic tales (and this one as well) is steeped in superstition and religion. Langdon is a servant of the devil himself here. I guess, these days, being infected by a bite is much more feasible than belief in a higher power.
BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT is schlocky fun from beginning to end. It’s poorly lit, but most likely this presentation is the best it’s ever looked. The acting is hammy and all over the place, but surprisingly convincing given the lines they are given to read. All in all, this is one of the more memorable werewolf tales, forgotten, yet thankfully rediscovered and rereleased in this new Blu-Ray that will definitely be something wolf-fans are going to want to sniff out.