While scuba diving somewhere in the Pacific (look for some nice underwater photography in the opening credits), Matt Farrell (John Ashley) is kidnapped. He is then taken to a small island where a mysterious scientist, Dr. Gordon (Charles Macaulay) is performing experiments on humans because of his belief that mankind will be venturing to other planets and will need superhuman qualities to survive. What he doesn't add is that these human subjects are being turned into half-animal creatures. While he is imprisoned in Gordon's island fortress, Farrell begins to fall in love with Gordon's beautiful assistant, who also happens to be his daughter Neva (Pat Woodell). Gordon's head security guard who makes sure none of his prisoners escape is Steinman (Jan Merlin). Steinman's joy comes from hunting the doctor's failed experiments down. He offers Farrell a chance to play a little game where he can try to escape the island with a 4 hour start. Being smart, Farrell declines and lets Steinman know hes going to pick his own time to flee. Farrell does some snooping around to learn more about the doctor and his experiments. He almost gets caught, but luckily he isn't spotted.
While taking part in one of Dr. Gordon's strange experiments, Neva gets some blood on her smock and becomes sick and wants to kill herself because she has had enough of it. Before she can swallow a bottle of pills, Farrell stops her. He tells her she should leave with him and pretty soon the two plan their escape. They also decide to take all of the doctor's "subjects" with them as protection. They open up the cages in the dungeon and let loose the human-animal creatures including: Ayesa, The Panther Woman (Pam Grier), Kuzma, The Antelope Man (Ken Metcalf), Darmo, The Bat Man (Tony Gosalvez), Primo, The Ape Man (Kim Ramos) and Lupa, The Wolf Woman (Mora Morena). After Steinman finds out Farrell and Neva have escaped he, as expected, forms a hunting party to track them down.
Meanwhile we get to see more of how the human-animal creatures behave. Its alot of fun to see Pam Grier acting like a cat, rolling in the grass and running through the woods. The human bat is my favorite because he just stands out and is so freaky looking. Throughout the film you want to see this bat man fly and when he finally does its really fun. One thing people may think from watching the film's trailer (one of my favorite 70s exploitation trailers!) is that the creatures are the antagonists, but they are actually on the good side. The way they are portrayed in the film, you feel bad for them. They are like pets who need to be taken care of and helped. You can see all these human subjects were not deranged or evil people before what Dr. Gordon did to them. The story definitely recalls films like The Island Of Dr. Moreau (which was made into a film in 1977) and the Blood Island films (which Eddie Romero was best known for up to this time).
The Twilight People is a classic 70s Filipino exploitation film that hardcore cult film fans will enjoy. Make no mistake, if you are looking for a masterpiece of cinema, this probably won't live up to your standards. Still, its a fun, late night drive-in movie that is entertaining.
Reviewed by Pete R.