Director: Al Adamson
Writer: Sue McNair

Dr. Rynning...John Carradine
Dr. Manning...Robert Dix
Valerie...Vicki Volante
Steve Bryce...Bruce Powers
Lian Melian...Jennifer Bishop

Al Adamson directed under various names a string of exploitation flicks which were, predictably, released under a variety of titles. From 1965’s Psycho-A-Go-Go to 1977’s Nurse Sherri, until his final film, Beyond this Earth (1995), his work haunted drive-in movie theaters and late-night TV. In an ending worthy of one of his films, a man named Fred Fulford murdered him and buried the body under the bathroom floor.

Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970), released under such alternate titles as Blood Creatures from the Prehistoric Planet, Creatures of the Prehistoric Planet, Creatures of the Red Planet, Vampire Men of the Lost Planet, and Space Mission to the Lost Planet is one of his best—it even made it to DVD. Certainly, it showcases many of the features that defined bad SF/horror in the drive-in era. It features a has-been star long past his best before date-- John Carradine. It features pretty up-and-comers who went nowhere, including Vicki Volante, who would star in a string of films with “blood” in their title, and Jennifer Bishop, who appeared in both Bigfoot (1970) and The Outlaw Riders (1971), two grade-z stinkers which would ultimately play as a double-bill at the lower-end drive-ins and second-run theaters of the 1970s. We have attrocious special effects, including toy spaceships, bad monster make-up, and visible wires. And we have stock footage.

Lots of stock footage. This entire picture plays like the work of a maniac with stock footage, a film editor, and a few days' location shooting in a desert canyon. TV Guide's capsuled description might read, "astronauts travel to a mysterious world inhabited by stock footage."

Adamson may not have had a script that made sense, but he gives us lots of stock footage, and we have fun along the way.

We begin in a dark alley where assorted innocent victims fall prey to marauding vampires while a voice-over ponderously relates information that has no meaningful connection to anything that will follow. Vampires on Earth, it seems, trace their origins to the alien "Tubatan" vampires who have the biggest honkin' fangs ever shown in a vamp pic. I mean, we're talking prehistoric "sabre-tooth vampires." A panicked point of view shot has us surrounded and moments away from either bloodthirsty attack by vampires or a rousing rendition of "I am the Walrus."

And then we switch to the launch of a toy spaceship, under the command of John Carradine, whose glory days are at this point depressingly long gone. Upon landing we enter (much as Dorothy did Oz) the film's true joy, the Great Stock Footage Festival. Instead of Glorious Technicolor, we get "Chromatic Radiation"-- Colored Filters which attempt to conceal the fact that a good deal of the film stock was originally in black and white.

And so our heroes encounter fighting cave-dwellers from the 1965 Phillipino flick Tagani, crustacean creatures from God Knows Where, flying bat-men from wires on the ceiling, and big lizards with fins 'n' horns glued to'em. These "dinosaurs" are, of course, from Hal Roach's One Million BC, and their appearance, yet again, begs the question of how many times the same pet lizards have to die in the service of bad movies. But if you're into this sort of film, you know you'll happily watch that same dimetrodon battle a ferocious raptor.

The Tagani sequences also feature a lot of action. One can surmise its title translates into English as something like, The Adventures of the Beefy Idiots Who Fight for No Particular Reason.

Oh, right. The planet also features vampires who have shoved in their gums the same pointy chopsticks as the gang from the movie's prologue. If it did not, the spaceship's journey to the this strange world would have no connection to the opening sequence. We can only assume this world is the home of the "Tubatans." But, given the absence of technology there, how did the vampires spread to Earth? Perhaps they were once technologically sophisticated, and have since reverted to barbarism. Maybe vampirism spread through a space-born virus. Or possibly some time warp thing is about to happen, and the vampire plague will begin once the explorers find their way out of that desert canyon and into Earth's past. Who knows. Who cares?

You like incredibly bad movies? Well, Horror of the Blood Monsters is several badfliques in one. Insert your oversized fangs and take a bite.

Portions of this node appear in a review written some years ago by this author for Bad Movie Night.

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