Plot Outline: Joseph Langdon was a very mean SOB who killed, raped, tortured, and betrayed his way through various situations in his regiment… until he was found escaping from his crimes in the Philippines and was shot at upon discovery. Before dying however, he ran across a native fellow surrounded by an odd yellow fog who promised him everlasting life so long as he remained under his servitude. Well, as it turns out the native was actually Satan himself and being under Big S’ servitude for Langdon means bringing out the worst in the people around him by being his usual bad-ass self. He accomplishes this task by taking over the body of Philip Rogers who has recovered from some serious factory injuries only to walk away in a handsome skin with a bad heart. But Langdon isn’t as bad as Satan discovers so in order to keep Langdon in line, Satan has Philip transform into a blood thirsty creature of the night once Langdon tries to find his humanity. Between doing good and bad for the people around him (and being immortal), Langdon finds himself torn and without hope until he runs into a blind old man who might know how to help him.
The Review: Sometimes I feel that regardless of the passing of time and the changing of cinema, there will always be a glimmering spark of classical movies that will ignite our gas-soaked attention and have us sink in awe at what’s on the screen. Though I wasn’t completely ‘sinking in awe’, I was somewhat pleased to watch Beast of the Yellow Night because it retained a classical feeling (emitted by the favorite theme of personal struggle) that almost felt similar to elements from earlier horror movies. This classical feeling can of course feel like a cliché at many moments while watching the film, but clichés can be avoided by originality and the Yellow Night feels a lot like a little cliché and an original plot altogether due to the aforementioned classic monster movie feeling. Some of this feeling also comes from the creature make-up as the beast that Langdon transforms in to highly resemble Lon Cheney Jr. in The Werewolf due to the concept of a loony flesh eating monster in a button up shirt and slacks on the run. I have heard much criticism about the gore in the movie, saying that it’s too cheap to be forgivable, but I’ll admit that for what little it had, it still offered fairly decent blood and gore effects for a low budget.
The cinematography isn’t a lot to brag about; though it does show most of the scenes in great lucidity, the original 35mm footage tends to make various scenes seem unconnected as they continually change from tint to tint for ever shot and day-for-night shots are rather questionable. With this in mind, the opening scene appeared somewhat inebriated as it traveled between two points with different tints for each cut. This however does not last forever as the editing of scenes at first seems rather confusing, but throughout the rest of the movie, the scenes fit in nicely and raise few continuity errors. The real cohesiveness for the opening scene to the movie was one expositive scene that occurred later in the movie and the beginning dialogue between Langdon and Satan that basically sets up the beginning plot device which really demands your full attention if you hope to understand what’s transpiring. The sound had an even amount of fairness to its merit as it offers great ambience and well applied average noises such as canes knocking around, doors closing, bones snapping and gunshots, but other noises were just far too Foley to be recognizable, like the slapping meat-slammer noise for slashes and punches, flamethrowers making gunshot noises instead of a streams of flaming gas being sprayed out. There were also a few missing noises as well, particularly the bending of iron bars that the demonic Langdon does in order to get out of one room (not only is he more powerful than the average man, but he’s also whisper quiet when it comes to getting out of a room in usually noisy ways, apparently). The music certainly contributed to its classical feeling of evident struggles, the old-timey location, re-establishing romances, and a killer beast on the prowl as a rather well orchestrated tune hits our ears with a soft yet chaotic violin stringing for the opening drama, and a touching flute tune for the personal struggles. Though the soundtrack hit a few repetitive notes such as the climactic opening for the romance theme, the music matched the content pretty well for the most part. The acting was a little mixed as various actors brought differing levels of charisma in the film. It’s a given that late rockabilly actor John Ashley would bring a smooth and cool air to the screen, with his easy flowing dialogue, greased up pompadour, and angular looks and Diaz was pretty good as a sly, chubby, smooth and cruel talking version of Satan. Many of the native Filipino actors like Garcia and Salcedo presented their characters believably (and with good dialogue, too! I love it when no dubbing is required) as they investigated the Langdon case, while other actors almost treated the film like it was an Anthony Cardoza rip off simply with their dialogue or appearances (wait, did I really type Cardoza? Dammit, I did it again). The use of most of the props in the movie are pretty fitting, though the bag full of limbs and flesh that Satan brings to Langdon is a little too modern of a design that contrasts with his starting native costume.
I’ve heard some negative remarks regarding the gore in the movie, but personally, I thought that the gore in Yellow Night wasn’t all that bad. True, there is one gut eating scene in which we see some silicone rolled bright pink bits of gut that contrasts with what real intestinal tracks may look like, but it was convincing for the scene because the bits of intestine shown were being munched/chewed up by a supposedly stronger than human monster-man. The rest of the gore mostly consisted of one broken arm, quick throat slashing and gnawing effects that fit in pretty well. Speaking of effects, the ‘creature’ himself was fair in design in the sense that John Ashley got his hands and face covered with a beyond charred layer of skin, fangs and a wig, but you could spot a few parts of Ashley that wasn’t covered by the make up as some brief flesh tones would appear above his shirt collar. Something I thought was interesting in the line of effects was the implication of the color yellow. Now seeing that the movie was filmed in the Philippines, I’m not sure whether yellow is the social sign of danger as red is to Latin America and black is here in the US, but I feel that the yellow fog that constantly rolls in whenever Satan has a scene to talk in, it works on different levels, especially for a movie of this caliber. This is partly due to the fact that when someone thinks of a color to represent Hell, chances are he’s are going to use the color red because of the idea that Hell is a big ol’ inferno. The problem is obvious that if Hell is a place of hot, constant fires, then why are there never RED FLAMES? See? By using yellow fog, the scene is warmed up in a thick, hazy atmosphere that comes closer to representing a Hellish presence because fires are always yellow and orange (depending on the fire of course, you could end up with a hint of blue or white, but never red. The only kind of red fire you’ll see is from a colored flare or stars that are really far away from Earth). Aside from those previously listed, there were very few other notable effects, aside from a seemingly half a minute long all red copulation/love making scene in the fore ground with a groovy red close up of Langdon & Julia kissing in the background (I say groovy because it’s VERY sixties [and I feel the need to add at this point that actress Mary Wilcox might not be much to look at, but she fills-in a number of sixties style tunics very nicely in the film, so that’s a plus).
There was some drama involved in the movie as well, almost more so than violence, though the contrast is evened out between each scene. However, there seems to be a something missing in the deliverance of the dramatic scenes; I don’t mean to say that they were badly acted, especially not when Langdon starts to PHYSICALLY thank Julia for being so faithful to him while he’s acting odd (at that point I was sure that the film was going to take a brief turn into soft-core porn style cinematography, but it didn’t), but for the most part, I think there was a part of me that slightly cared about what the characters were going through between each other. Looking back on it now though, I realize that I ended up setting most of my focus on how Ashley’s character was going to treat his life, the people he interacted with and how their words would influence/possibly help him (or if the cops were figuring things out on their own, then I’d focus my attention on that), but once it shifted to a different character that Langdon talked to, I slowly began losing interest. The one scene that pops into my mind regarding this issue is when Earl and Julia are talking about Philip’s recently weird behavior that made him try and push Julia onto Earl and how these two characters suddenly started developing something between each other. For Philip’s only known brother, Earl really doesn’t seem like a good bro when it comes to insuring that your wigged out brother/pal ends up okay and being more worried about his brother’s wife’s mental stability; disconnected, vague, dumb sounding and biologically inaccurate in comparison to his damned brother… yeah, the one character that brought the movie down with his appearance, lines and infidelity was Phil’s brother Earl who right from the start I knew he had something for Phil’s wife. Geez, what a worm. I will admit that given the pros and cons, Beast of the Yellow Night is an interesting low-budget killer monster on the run film that might not be recognized for anything other than John Ashley, but it’s a unique popcorn Drive-In style movie that works as a kick-back/relaxing visual treat. With the given details plus its own, Beast of the Yellow Night has also got a little bit of classic material to its structure while still being somewhat original; if you like the gory results of a man turned flesh eating wombat monster from Hell trying to find his faith and solidity, then this is a pretty good selection.