You don’t really get what you expected watching “Terror of the Bloodhunters. Instead of lots of tall buxom and beautiful Amazon-looking women you get, almost throughout the entire movie,deep philosophical exchanges between the leading cast members.
The story is built around the Devil’s Island Commandant, Niles Andrus, and his spoiled rotten and bored daughter Marlene, Dorothy Haney. Marlene is sick and tired of being confined, like the guards and inmates, to the Devil’s Island penal colony and wants to get out any way that she can even in a pine box. It’s when a new group of inmates are sent to the Island that Marlene sees her chance to make a clean getaway. Big time philosophy writer and humanist Steve Duval, Robert Clarke, has been sent to that God forsaken island because of his ideas, thought crimes, about universal freedom as well as the human condition not because of any real crimes that he committed.
The commandant wanting his daughter Marlene to marry his top-kick or the captain at the island prison the very effective and by the books Whorf (Robert Christopher), who in twelve years running the place had no one escape, also want’s Marlene to learn to paint with the multi-talented Duval giving her lessons. Marlene together with Duval and fellow inmate and humanist, another thought crime prisoner, Dione (William White) make their escape the very next evening on the Commandant’s personal riverboat.
It’s later when the trio realize that their plan to make it to safety in Brazil is about to fall apart they go on foot thought the dense snake jaguar and headhunter infested Amazon jungle. It’s there where they together with the pursuing Captain Whorf and his sniveling sidekick Cabot, Steve Conte, are enlightened to what life really means and the real purpose of man being put, by a powerful but benevolent creator, on earth; To become as whole kind and perfect and the creator who put him there. In short man is to become a true human being in his feeling not only towards his fellow man, in treating him as he would want to be treated himself, but in forsaking the greedy materialistic and selfish ideas that’s been put in his head, by those who follow and worship those false idols, since he was born.
We do get to see a number of sexy women looking more like they work as secretaries in a Wall Street and Madison Av office then jungle natives doing some kind of hula hula dance. This while the native women are sacrificing a member of their tribe, who looks totally out of it, to their brutal and blood-thirsty jungle God. There’s also a sequence where Whorf and Cabot are captured by a group of native headhunters and Duval together with Marlene, Dione was earlier killed by a attacking black jaguar, coming to their rescuer before they get their heads shrunk. All this of course is just window dressing to the real issues that the movie addresses: Man lifting himself up as well as those around him. This in spite of all the evil that he’s both confronted with and controlled by.
It’s that hidden meaning in the movie “Terror of the Headhunters” that’s by far the reason that it’s not only a notch or two, but miles, above the average exploitation flick of the 1950’s and 1960’s. It’s also the reason that the film hits home with its unsuspecting, who expected a lot less, and surprised audience.