A mad scientist (okay, not really mad, but maybe a bit peeved) lives on an island where he’s been experimenting turning humans into animals, or “manimals.” Sound familiar? It should — Twilight People (1972) is an unintentionally cheesy second attempt at adapting the 1896 H.G. Wells’ novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau, the first swing being Island of Lost Souls in 1932. (Note to manimals: Dr. Moreau was remade two more times — in 1977 and yet again in 1996, both with equally laughable results.)
Professionally handsome Matt Farrell was out skin diving when he’s caught and pulled out of the sea like the catch of the day. He’s brought to an island where Dr. Gordon, in a huge mansion with spare dungeon, has been making animal/human hybrids to create a super race to outlive Earth’s eventual demise via war, pollution and 7-Eleven™ Truckstopper microwave burritos. Gordon’s plan is to use Matt’s physical and intellectual superiority to advance his medical aspirations.
Assisting Dr. Gordon is Neva, his supermodel daughter, who falls under the spell of Matt’s overpowering handsomeness. But Gordon’s henchmen, led by the cocky, gun-happy Steinman (even his name sounds arrogant), wants Matt shot in his good looks.
The animals are the real stars, though. There’s a panther woman, an antelope man, a bat man, an ape man, a wolf woman and a tree woman, Gordon’s first attempt at combining plant DNA with a human. The result? Oops.
An epic chase scene wraps things up when Matt and Neva escape with the manimals while Steinman pursues with meaningful gunfire. The fun explodes when the hybrids, now released back into the wild, do what animals do — after a few pooper scooper moments, of course. Can you blame them?
The manimals fight back, ripping faces and throats while Matt and Steinman settle their differences. But it’s when Darmo the bat man regains his ability to fly that the movie — and his revenge on Dr. Gordon — is the money shot. The overhead dive bomb view is so classic, he could give pointers to gangsta seagulls.
P.S. You can be highly entertained by Twilight People on YouTube™ for free.