31 Days of Horror: Film 30: Blood is the Color of Night [a.k.a. The Blood Drinkers] (1964)

It’s time for the 31 Days of Horror: 2014 Edition. For those of you who weren’t around for last year’s journey, the plan is to watch at least 31 horror movies I’ve never seen before and review them all. So sit back, strap in, and enjoy my journey down the rabbit hole.

There are moments in Blood is the Color of Night that make it more interesting than just a vampire flick produced on the cheap in the Philippines. The use of blue, red, and green tinting of black and white film stock to portray the different moods is innovative. The main antagonist is given a unique look that both pays homage to the traditional movie vampire and upends expectations. Unfortunately, director Gerardo de Leon overuses the changing color motifs and the script by Cesar Amigo is stuffed with far too many romantic plot threads and back stories.

Dr. Marco (Ronald Remy) is a vampire who brings his lover Katrina (Amalia Fuentes) to a small village. Katrina is dying and needs a heart transplant from her long lost twin sister Charito (also Fuentes). Complicating matters is Charito’s mother (Mary Walter) who is torn about sacrificing one daughter to save the other. This is to say nothing of Victor (Eddie Fernandez), Charito’s new boyfriend, who suspects Dr. Marco of being up to no good right away, but can’t get the police to listen to him.

The film’s plot actually goes to where you would expect it, but it takes a circuitous route to get there. There seem to be at least three soap opera subplots involving love triangles that add nothing to the film. Despite the supposed urgency of Katrina’s heart transplant, Dr. Marco seems in no hurry and drinks his way through many villagers, finally arousing the suspicion of the police and a local priest. And then there are the numerous shots of an unconvincing rubber bat that pad out the running time on a film that really should be no longer than 75 minutes.

But even with all of these complaints, there are striking images on display that show the meeting of traditional Gothic vampire films with the modern age (in this case, 1964). There is a power and sense of humor behind shots of Dr. Marco draped in his black cape, while wearing wrap-around sunglasses. Even more tongue-in-cheek, but no less beautiful, is a shot of a horse-drawn carriage transporting an ornate coffin, with a cherry red convertible right behind it.

As long as de Leon sticks to the main vampire plot, Blood is the Color of Night is an interesting, but flawed, entry in the genre. But too much time spent on the subplots and a third act turn into unabashed Catholic propaganda that nearly turns it into a Christian scare film consistently derail it.

I wanted to like Blood is the Color of Night more than I did. It has an unusual tone and look, but the over-stuffed plot and de Leon’s inability to tell the story coherently in places made it more of a chore to sit through as it went along. If you can get over these flaws, there is a worthwhile movie here. Just be prepared to sit through a lot of romantic melodrama to get to the good stuff.

You can contact me at obsessivemovienerd@gmail.com and read all the extraneous crap that goes through my head by following me on Twitter.

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