Beast of the Yellow Night (1971) (NTSC)

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Released 18-Feb-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Cult None
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1971
Running Time 83:24
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (78:27) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Eddie Romero
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring John Ashley
Mary Charlotte Wilcox
Leopoldo Salcedo
Eddie Garcia
Ken Metcalfe
Vic Diaz
Andres Centenera
Ruben Rustia
Don Linman
José García
Carpi Asturias
Jose Roy Jr.
Criselda
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI Box Music Nestor Robles


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     In 1946 Joseph Langdon (John Ashley), torturer, murderer, rapist and collaborator with the Japanese in WW2 during which he betrayed his friends, is on the run in the jungle. Starving and ill, he makes a pact with Satan (Vic Diaz) to preserve his life. In turn, Langdon will serve Satan in any way Satan chooses. Killed by the army, Langdon is revived by Satan and transported into the bodies of recently deceased men; the object is to create evil at every turn.

     Twenty four years later after a number of different identities, Langdon becomes Philip Rogers, an American businessman. Rogers was an unpleasant man, disfigured and killed in an industrial accident. His “revival” is a shock to his doctor, who promptly dies of a stroke, as well as to Rogers’ neglected wife Julia (Mary Wilcox) and his brother Earl (Ken Metcalfe). More of a pleasant shock to Julia is her husband’s renewed interest in her and their revitalised sexual and personal relationship. But Satan is not prepared to allow Langdon / Rogers to have feelings for Julia and become “human”; so when Rogers starts to feel “human” he transforms into a powerful, hairy beast, with a thirst for human blood and entrails. As the bodies pile up, and the police begin to suspect Rogers, perhaps only a blind man (Andres Centenera) may have the key to his fate.

     Beast of the Yellow Night is a wonderfully evocative title for a B film made in the Philippines by producer / star John Ashley. Ashley had a long career in B films, including teen dramas (Motorcycle Gang (1957)) and beach party films (How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965)) and he teamed with Filipino director Eddie Romero for a number of B films made in the Philippines including Beast of the Yellow Night. Ashley was also producer of The A-Team TV series and associate producer of Apocalypse Now (1979), so he perhaps deserves to be better known than he is.

     Beast of the Yellow Night is an entertaining film. It wastes no time in going about its business and has a quite delicious sense of humour, such as when Satan, who has all the best lines anyway, laments to Langdon that there are so few truly evil men and that “human nature is so ambiguous that the propagation of evil is left entirely to chance”. Much of the rest of the dialogue in the film is stiff and stilted, and indeed the acting generally is bland to poor, with Vic Diaz as Satan and Andres Centenera as the Blind Man by far the best. In contract, Mary Wilcox as Julia is unconvincing and Ashley, as an actor, makes a good producer.

     Beast of the Yellow Night is a fun film spoiled by a poor DVD presentation. Many of the issues are outlined in the video section below, yet the most important plot-wise is the non-existent shadow detail. For example, when Rogers transforms into the beast, the facial makeup is so indistinct that we cannot see what Langdon has become and in a scene towards the end when Rogers on the run returns to the Blind Man, we cannot see what happens. Scratches and artefacts may be distracting, but they don’t necessarily mean we are unable to follow the plot.

     Beast of the Yellow Night is included in the six film, 3 DVD collection The Devil at Work, a box set from Gryphon of devilish tales from the 1930s to 1970s. The full list is The Devil’s Daughter (1939) and Devil Monster (1946) on disc 1, Devil’s Partner (1963) and Beast of the Yellow Night (1971) on disc 2 and How Awful About Allan (1970) and Good Against Evil (1977) on disc 3.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Beast of the Yellow Night is presented in a ratio of 1.33:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced. The print is NTSC format. The original theatrical ratio was 1.85:1, and this is only the start of the problems.

     First, the good news. While there are occasional dirt marks and scratches, they are infrequent and hardly noticeable. From there it gets worse. For most of the first half of the film there is edge enhancement and a prominent halo effect around characters. There is also occasional macro-blocking (see the fire 79:27 but it also occurs earlier), chroma noise, reel changes, missing frames and a red tinge to many of the skin tones. Colours are dull. Brightness also varies, but the real issue is the detail, which is indistinct to non-existent and, as noted in the review, it is sometimes impossible to see what is happening. Try also freezing the film on the caption at 10:37 and trying to read what it says.

     A number of times, including 10:05, 32:15, 54:14 and 75:14, a white “Mill Creek Entertainment” logo appears in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. It is quite distracting.

     There are no subtitles, not even for a lengthy section of Filipino dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English Linear PCM track at 1536 Kbps. The dialogue is fine, effects dull but acceptable and my system redirects some music to the surrounds. There is no sub woofer use. There is noticeable hum in quiet moments, the occasional drop out and a loud crack at 60:27.

     The score by Nestor Robles sounds more like TV themes but is quite melodramatic and mostly works.

     Lip synchronization issues were sometimes evident, but not overly so.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     None.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 US version is 1.85:1 non-anamorphic. It does have some extras, including a trailer, “Remembering John Ashley” featurette, and a John Ashley Photo Gallery. Reviews indicate that the video is in good shape but with dull colours. There is also a US double feature available with Keep My Grave Open (1976). I can find no information about the audio or state of the video on this release.

     I cannot find any equivalent to The Devil at Work package in any region.

Summary

     Beast of the Yellow Night is an entertaining film spoiled by the DVD presentation. The video is poor, the audio acceptable and there are no extras. If you enjoy this type of film, and there is certainly much to enjoy here, you are better off sourcing the US edition.

     Beast of the Yellow Night is included in the six film, 3 DVD collection The Devil at Work, a box set from Gryphon of devilish tales from the 1930s to 1970s for a RRP of $19.95.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, April 15, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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