The Killing of Satan (1983)

The Killing of Satan (1983) VHS cover

director Efren C. Piñon
viewed: 09/04/2018

“Satan! Where are you? Come out and fight! You’re yellow, Satan!”

More Filipino cinematic magic in The Killing of Satan. In this one, a reformed criminal is thrust into the crazy doings of a distant family member and ultimately into a battle with Satan himself.

Crime and villainy sprout up everywhere in The Killing of Satan. And our hero Lando (Ramon Revilla) gets shot at by thugs (and he and his son killed) in the city, but when resurrected and back in the smaller island villages, the bad guys are even worse! They have magic powers and shoot lasers from their fingers and are tied to the prince of magic as well as the prince of darkness.

It’s also infused with a wacky Catholicism throughout, but certainly a fairly non-traditional version. Can you imagine if religious righteousness (or even devil worship) really worked like this?

It’s not all gold but many nuggets abound throughout: the guy squished by the boulder, Lando slapping a snake around and then ties it in a knot, the snake guy himself.

All in all, some pretty nutso stuff, but I prefer the Eddie Romero & Gerardo de Leon flicks, personally.

The Twilight People (1972)

The Twilight People (1972) movie poster

director Eddie Romero
viewed: 03/31/2018

The Twilight People is a Filipino Dr. Mureau featuring a panther woman (Pam Grier, no less), an ape man, a wolf woman, an antelope man, and a pretty awesome bat person.

And whatever this is supposed to be:

screengrab The Twilight People (1972)

As the 1960’s crept into the 1970’s, the Filipino film industry became more and more inundated with American production money and personnel. Even though this is an Eddie Romero picture featuring stalwart John Ashley, the only Filipinos on screen are extras with maybe a little dialogue and Eddie Garcia in an all too truncated role.

The production values are there, and the picture looks great. And it’s pretty fun stuff, too. Especially the bat guy.

But this isn’t the much more satisfying and unusual stuff that Romero and Gerardo de Leon were putting out in the years prior. Not to discredit The Twilight People, just to give perspective.

Take me back to Blood Island, Eddie!

Raw Force (1982)

Raw Force (1982) movie poster

director Edward D. Murphy
viewed: 03/09/2018

Raw Force is The Karate Kid‘s older brother who took a lot of PCP, hung out with the wrong crowd from the Burbank Kung Fu Club in a room covered with posters from girly magazines while scarfing Filipino junk food. And dabbled in human trafficking and cannibalism.

Also, monks and zombies? A Nazi villain? And the most unflappable exotic dancer of all time.

“God forbid we should run out of liquor.”

Truly, one for the ages.

D’Wild Wild Weng (1982)

D'Wild Wild Weng (1982) movie poster

director Eddie Nicart
viewed: 08/27/2017

My first cinematic encounter with Weng Weng, the 2’9″ Filipino action superstar, wasn’t the esteemed For Y’ur Height Only (1981), but D’Wild Wild Weng. Since this is my first Weng Weng movie I cannot measure it against the others, but I was massively entertained.

Weng Weng was amazingly spry, doing a ton of stunts, some clearly cheap but some quite impressive.

That said, much of the enjoyment is intended and unintended humor. Whoever dubbed Weng Weng’s voice for this American release…brilliant.

I guess it’s kind of a Western? Some really floppy Filipino sombreros on some stock bad guys. And ninjas. And a tribe of little people American Indians? Weng Weng pal Gordon (Max Laurel?) are doing good where good is needed and of course Weng Weng is a total badass and polite and kind. He rescues anybody who needs it and then just says, “See ya!”

Apparently, Lupo the mute, whose tongue was cut out by the baddies, annoys a lot of people. Personally, I have him down as perhaps the best “mute guy” acting ever. Everything he says and does is loud and expressively nonsensical but Weng Weng and Gordon totally understand him.

Really, there is so much going on here worth noting, but I’ll just stop. I thought this movie was hilarious and entertaining. I look forward to my next meeting with Weng Weng.

Curse of the Vampires (1966)

 

Ibulong mo sa hangin (1964)

director Gerardo de Leon
viewed: 07/07/2017

No matter what you call it, Blood of the VampiresWhisper to the Wind, Ibulong mo sa hangin, the one thing you know is you’ve got another Gerardo de Leon vampire picture. While it’s not quite as much a masterpiece as his Blood Is the Color of Night, it does have some interesting visual effects (albeit somewhat muted by the quality of the print I watched).

Things go sideways for a noble Filipino family when the adult children find out that pops has been keeping their dead mom in the basement since she turned into a vampire at death.

The cool effects of which I speak seem to mostly be effected via lighting techniques, revealing shocking visages of vampires and their fangs. Not sure if these look better or worse due to the washed-out nature of the print, but I though they were cool.

The mother vampire is a pathetic thing, chained and whipped by the father and his henchman. There is some mad repression going on here. And if that weren’t enough, you’ve got the household staff in blackface!

I’ve yet to be disappointed by a Filipino horror film.

Well, REALLY disappointed.

Beast of Blood (1970)

Beast of Blood (1970) movie poster

director  Eddie Romero
viewed: 06/22/2017

If I could live in a world of wall-to-wall Filipino horror trash cinema, I would. And in that world, Beast of Blood would be one of the lesser regions, not as fully appreciated as Brides of Blood or its actual predecessor, Mad Doctor of Blood Island.

Following on the heels of Mad Doctor, it’s the further adventures of said doctor and his chlorophyll blood beast, though the monster spends most of the film with his head on one table and his body on another, not able to do a lot of damage while all the action takes place.

The one real added perk here is (I think) Liza Belmonte as Laida, who first appears on screen shoving a camera out of her face and confronting the blonde lead for taking photos without permission. She also is quite deft with a knife and gets quite a good amount of ass-kicking. A little proto-feminism never hurts.

Still, not enough to elevate Beast of Blood to its other Filipino horror trash brethren.

The Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968)

The Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968) movie poster

director Eddie Romero
viewed: 03/31/2017

The Mad doctor of Blood Island is one pretty hep cat. He keeps his stylish shades on all day and all night, inside and out, and limps with a cane. But it turns out that he’s not really a mad doctor at all, just one who turned to chlorophyll as a healing medicine and turned an old dude into a plant man monster.

The version of the film on Fandor starts with a warning about the content of the film and shows a lot of young people drinking green blood!

Filipino horror movies are so, so good.

That said, this one is a little trashier, featuring fast zoom-in, zoom-out effects when the monster attacks that get old instantaneously. But it’s also got a fair amount of gore and nudity, as well as a wonky creature slopped together by some wonderful rank amateur FX person.

In blood-curdling color, indeed!

Blood Is the Color of Night (1964)

Blood Is the Color of Night (1964) movie poster

director Gerardo de Leon
viewed: 02/25/2017

Blood Is the Color of Night and that color is transcendent. Be it blue, or red, or green.

Gerardo de Leon’s Blood Is the Color of Night a.k.a. The Blood Drinkers is another ridiculously entertaining horror flick from the 1960’s. It’s a vampire movie made originally for the Philippines market, re-dubbed for amusement and enlightenment elsewhere. And certainly that regionalism is part of its charm, not playing to the world but to a local audience.

More than anything, though, is that mother of invention, necessity, which led de Leon to the film’s most notable quality. With an apparent limit of full color film, much of the movie is filmed in tinted black and white in hues of red and blue and green. This technique was not uncommon in the Silent Era, but is intensely surprising and evocative here, heightening aesthetic values far above where they would have been in mere “color”.

I totally dug it.

Blood Thirst (1971)

Blood Thirst (1971) screen grab

director  Newt Arnold
viewed: 08/10/2016

I’m pretty late to the game in regard to Filipino horror films.  Late but loving it.

Blood Thirst was more an American production shot in the Philippines in the 1960’s, so maybe not pure Filipino, but it bears a lot of the charms of the other films of the period that I’ve seen.

Manila cop Inspector Miguel Ramos (Vic Diaz) calls in old pal American cop Adam Rourke (Robert Winston) to go “undercover” to at a local nightclub from which the girls keep disappearing and winding up drained of blood.

Newt Arnold’s strange semi-vampire flick features some excellent and extremely noirish black-and-white cinematography by Hermo Santos.  The slick production values show polish, but the setting in Manila and featuring key Filipino cast and character actors really flavor the film as well.  By the time you get to the misshapen blood-sucker, a camp figure straight out of pulp magazines, you know you have a winner all around.

Blood Thirst was the B-side of the Incense for the Damned (1970) Something Weird DVD, and the more outright enjoyable of the two.  Strange bedfellows they are, Blood Thirst originally shot in the mid-1960’s only released later in 1971, they wind up being a pretty sweet pairing of vampire-themed weirdness and obscurity.

Terror Is a Man (1959)

Terror Is a Man (1959) movie poster

director Gerardo de Leon
viewed: 12/03/2015

Terror is a Man … except when it’s not.  In this case, terror is a “cat man,” a humanoid hybrid “evolved” by a mad scientist from panther to a mummied-up biped with big whiskers, fangs, and cute ears.

This is the first of the “Blood Island” flicks from Gerardo de Leon and Eddie Romero, later to be followed by Brides of Blood (1968), Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968) and Beast of Blood (1971).  Before watching Brides of Blood earlier this year, I don’t think I’d ever seen a Filipino movie ever.  And frankly, I don’t know that I really knew anything at all about de Leon or Romero before seeing Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010) which I just saw last year.  So far, their films have been fun.

Terror is a Man is a down-scaled version of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau.  Scaled down because Dr. Charles Girard (Francis Lederer) has only one beast he’s trying to transform, not a whole population of creatures.  Terror is a Man is a very good-looking and well-produced black-and-white thriller.  That said, it’s not a particularly thrilling thriller.  Some have compared it to a Val Lewton picture, which is a reasonable enough conceit.

It does interestingly feature one scene of gore that is so fast that you could easily miss it.  Of course, the film warns you about this in a pre-title notification.  A bell rings right before the scene of flesh being cut open and right after, for the squeamish to have a chance to close their eyes.  This William Castle-esque moment is literal “blink and you’ll miss it” moment, perhaps suggesting more lurid exploitation moments to come in the cycle that was not yet a cycle yet.

It also features Greta Thyssen, Danish-born bombshell that never exploded, not for lack of looks.