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.

Brides of Blood (1968)

Brides of Blood (1968) movie posterPhilippines

directors Eddie Romero, Gerardo de Leon
viewed: 06/07/2015

This movie is surprisingly as awesome as its poster, which, in my humble opinion, is pretty freaking awesome.

It’s the first Filipino film I’ve ever seen, an odd fact I became aware of in that I decided to watch it for that very reason.  I’m participating in a movie scavenger hunt that included a requirement of seeing a movie from a country that I have never before seen a film before.  Oddly enough, I’ve seen movies from a lot of countries so that actually took some figuring out.

I already had Brides of Blood in my queue when I learned about the films from Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010), a documentary about the spate of film production in the Philippines in the late 1960’s through early 1980’s.  Eddie Romero and Gerardo de Leon, directors of Brides of Blood were actual Filipino directors rather than the American imports via Roger Corman and others, making a horror film exploitation thing with great aplomb.

It’s a really hilariously bananas idea for a horror film.  A small Pacific island, not far from the test bombing of atomic arsenals, is visited by a small coterie of American would-be aides.  Only the whole island has been affected by nuclear radiation, though in phases like the transformation into a werewolf or something.  Sometimes the trees are monstrous, sometimes they are just trees.  Sometimes a butterfly is a mutant terror, sometimes it’s just a butterfly.

Of course, the main monster, depicted on the poster up there, is one of the all-time great terrible monster designs.  Despite its hokey crafting, it’s really kind of cool.

And there is some surprising gratuitous nudity.

This movie was a lot more fun than I anticipated.  I’ll have to work my way through the whole “Blood Island” trilogy now.