Thursday, March 19, 2009

Zuma II: Hell Serpent (1987)

1987 – Zuma II: Hell Serpent (Cine Suerte Inc)


[Philippines release date 9th October 1987, original title “Anak Ni Zuma”/“Daughter Of Zuma”]


Director/Executive Producer Ben “M7”Yalung Story Jim Fernandez based on his Aliwan Komik strip Screenplay Ben “M7” Yalung, Tony A. Calvento Producer Horace “M2” Yalung Supervising Producer Rene “M4” Yalung Music Venancio Saturno Cinematography Ernesto “Boy” Dominguez, Alfonso Alvarez, Ver Reyes Editors Augusto Salvador, Joe Solo Special Effects Tony Gozalves Makeup Artist Tita Dominguez Production Manager Louie Mico Assistant Directors Santiago Garcia, Buddy Dator Production Head/Advertising Manager Tony A. Calvento General Manager Raul Bagatsing Assistant Makeup Flor Navarro Setting/Props Department Lando Enriquez, Mario de Guzman, Boogie de Guzman Mechanical Snake Operators Ismael Budiongan, Ed Marcelino, Herbert Hernandez Effectsman Czar “Bakal” Abejuela Post Production Manager Julie Viray Schedule Master Edmond Cruz Titles/Opticals Rolly Santiago Optical Operator Boy Quilatan Optical Assistant Egay Marcelo Sound Mixer Albert Rimas Stills Wilmore Barruelo, Oscar Barruelo Service Drivers Zeus Mangabat, Andy Razon, Bogart Villanueva Assistant Editors Ernesto Jacinto, Ciriaco Item Dubbing Editor Ernesto Jacinto Loopers Rudy Dumlao, Ramon Escamillan Dubbers Pepsi Guerrero, Olive Madridejos, Bobby Borjal, Liz Santia, Myrna, Nelia, Ronnie

CSI Unit I Assistant Camera Mel Dapilus Camera Lifter Bernabe Valdez Clapper Mark Balibalita Soundman Rudy Teope Boom Man Chito Almusen Electrician Cesario Abulok Crew Gilberto Villaverde, Eden Pobe Unit Bus Driver Paquito Relliega

CSI Unit II Assistant Cameraman Roy Sangco Camera Lifter Ben Villaverde Soundman Elpidio Mariscotes Boom Man Miguel Curran Clapper Juanito Romano Electrician Jimmy Abalos Crew Rudy Vergara, Marting, Bogart Villanueva


Cast Max Laurel (Zuma), Dang Cecilio (Isabel), Rey 'PJ' Abellana (Morgan), Lorraine Schuck, Mark Gil (Philip), Jenny Lyn (Galema), Sonny Erang (Dino), Sharon Hughes, Florian Bernabe, Rene Hawkins, Marilyn Bautista, Ernie Zarate, Buddy Dator, Ver Pineda, Ronnie Olivar, Nato Tanchingco, Bert Garon


Review from the Internet Movie Database:


The big screen adaptation of the most widely read Filipino comic book, it's a cheesy production that grossed big in the local box office. The special effects are crude and low-budget, but the mass of snakes are real! Editing is choppy and the acting is terrible.


Basic plot is the green bald man with the snakes on his shoulders (Zuma) fights the military and police, while his daughter (Galema) chases him to put an end to his killing spree. Zuma is finally flushed out of his lair by Galema into a battalion of soldiers, where one shot from a tank fells him. The final scene leaves room for a third sequel (the original movie being "Zuma"), which I understand is being developed.




Review:


This is one of those films that you just sit back and watch and enjoy all the madness coming at you from the screen. To list all of the hilarious things with this film would take far longer than we have here. We have obviously fake snakes hanging around the necks of Zuma and his daughter. The grandson of Zuma is really a hilariously bad costume with some huge rubber mask set-up stuck on top of some guy's head. He also has a rubber tail that he has to wear as well. The monsters in the cave are all obvious rubber masks as can be seen in the close-up shots. This only scratches the surface of the craziness of this film. You've got to love a villain who cackles with glee every time he does something. Even without subtitles, this film is well worth watching.

Silip (1985)

1985 – Silip (Viking Films International)


[Philippines release date 7th February 1986 after its initial overseas festival playdates in 1985, released internationally as “Daughter Of Eve” or “Daughters Of Eve”; released on Italian VHS as “Deflorazione”/“Flowers of Virginity”]


Director Elwood Perez Producer Willy Tieng Executive Producer Wilson Tieng Associate Producer Lucy T. Cabuchan Screenplay Ricardo Lee Music Lutgardo Labad Director Of Photography Johnny Araojo Assistant Director Jimmy Reyes Editor Edgardo “Boy” Vinarao Production Designer Alfred Santos Art Director Gerry Pascual Production Manager Gunding Lopez Field Soundman Pete Nicolas Gaffer Romy Mendoza Assistant Cameraman Romy Onofre Associate Editor Samuel Domondon Assistant Editors Totoy Vinarao, Jun Calaguan Laboratory Consultant Tony Caminto (?) Publicity Stills Ben Nollora Live Effects Rodel Caoule Sound Engineer Vic Macamay Animation, Credits & Opticals Gerry A. Garcia Graphic Artist Arnold V. Villasis Layout Artists Cecille Tiu, Bing Santos Makeup Kokuryo Hair & Makeup (Ms Lopez) Cecile Del Mundo Jr Makeup (Ms Emmanuelle) Patrick Rosal Dubbing Supervisor Vangie Labalan Production Accountant Lilia “Mynne” Mesa Field Custodian Pilar Wee Talent Co-Ordinator Roger Macapaga Co-Ordinator for Laoag City Jun Mandac Makeup Artist from Kokuryo Baby Divina Gracia Setman Buddy Camposano Propsman Rey Samosa First Utilityman Miguel Palacios Second Utilityman Rolando Samosa Caterer Nene Lopez Service Fleet Drivers George Lobitana, Joe Ching, Tito Canlas, Felix Avaoag Security Officer Corporal Bernie Montano Fight Instructor Jimmy Reyes Special Effects & Prosthetics Ben Otico Creative Associate Arthur Casanova


Cast Marie Isabel Lopez, Sarsi Emmanuelle, Myra Manibog, Mark Joseph, Daren Craig Johnson, Michael Angelo, Arwin Rogelio, Jenneelyn Gatbalite, Pia Zabale, Jimmy Reyes, Gloria Andrade, Arthur Casanova, Chabeng Contreras, Cherriebee Santos, Lea Zabale, Eduardo Recto, Jun-Jun Santos, Emiliano Lopez, Letty De Guzman, Eric Ong, Chelsea, Laybana, Leo Llanes





My interview with Elwood Perez, November 2006


Interviewing Maria Isabel Lopez, July 2007:


My Search For Weng Weng post for November 2007: Last week saw the simultaneous European and American DVD release of the controversial Filipino classic Silip/Daughters Of Eve (1985), courtesy of specialist label Mondo Macabro. Silip is set in a remote and intensely Catholic village and follows three girls as their feelings for the local lad Simon are twisted into religious repression, mania, demonization and ultimately retribution. Imagine an Asian softcore remake of Ken Russell’s The Devils, and you're not even close! MM, renowned for their superb packaging of Third World genre films, went overboard with Silip, releasing it as a double disc edition… and my on-camera interviews are on the second disc! Filmed in Manila during the Search For Weng Weng shoots, the interviews with director Elwood Perez (who almost disowns the film), bold superstar Maria Isabel Lopez (a true professional who has, shall we say, “mixed feelings” over the film set’s psychodrama), and art director Alfred Santos (a good Catholic boy who almost had a mental AND spiritual breakdown!) total almost an hour of screen time. Needless to say, as a huge fan of Mondo Macabro’s work from their book on Third World genre cinema to their Channel 4 series and now their stunning DVD releases, I’m over the moon to be a part of one of their releases! The film is in both English AND Tagalog with subtitles, and comes with an essay on the curious Filipino phenomenon of “bold” films by MM author Pete Tombs. Here’s what the reviews say:


Review from the DVD Maniacs website:


The Film

Elwood Perez’s Silip (also known as Daughters Of Eve) begins with a group of children watching a man named Simon (Mark Joseph) slaughtering a buffalo. One boy pleads with Simon to spare the animal but Simon points out that if people in the village want to eat, he’ll have to kill the animal. From there we meet Tonya (Maria Isabel Lopez), a young woman filling in for the local priest at the small village’s school. The sexual couplings going on around her abhor Tonya and she sees her fellow villagers as sinners. She teaches the children that sex is evil and even goes so far as to tell some of the female students that what hangs between a man’s legs is the devil’s horn! Despite her attempts at living a pure life, she still has thoughts about Simon from time to time though at this point has yet to act on them.


When Selda (Sarsi Emmanuelle) and her white boyfriend come to visit the village where Selda grew up, things get complicated. Selda and her man make love one night while Tonya watches and then later Selda seduces Simon after the two of them tie up his lover, the town widow, Mona (Myra Manibog). Tonya brings Selda’s boyfriend to the hut where they’re getting it on and he and Simon get into a fight which results in the boyfriend’s decision to leave town. All the while, there’s an unspoken mutual lust between Tonya and Simon. As all of this is going on, Tonya’s teachings are getting more and more bizarre. When a young student tells her she’s had impure thoughts Tonya reacts by throwing hot sand between her legs.


Eventually it all comes to a head as the villagers decide that Tonya is no longer fit to teach the children. In fact many of them believe she’s gone crazy. As Tonya and Selda try to sort out their differences and get over their past together, it all hits the fan and the villagers soon turn into an angry mob.


On the surface Silip might seem like little more than a strange softcore film but there’s really a very interesting and intelligent story underneath all the bumping and grinding going on. While the film definitely has its fair share of full frontal nudity (with a few scenes that come dangerously close to hardcore) the story revolves as much around Tonya’s struggles with her faith versus her natural instincts as a woman than anything else. She’s obviously very repressed not only in her feelings for Simon but also in her ability to deal with Selda. Of course with Tonya employed as the town teacher there’s a trickle down effect and her bizarre and adamant stance on the evils of sexuality start to effect the children. Obviously the parents want their children to get an education from a trustworthy and moralistic teacher but Tonya takes things to such a ridiculous extreme that even the most devout Catholic would have to take issue with her stance.


It makes for interesting viewing, as Perez gives us enough sex, violence, sleaze (and unfortunately all too real animal violence) to keep things unpredictable but also delivers a genuinely interesting story and some rather impressive compositions (one shot one of Simon’s buffalo looking on at a couple as the make love!). The cinematography is very effective in how it pulls you into the dusty village; everything feels hot and a little bit gritty.


As far as the content of the film goes, the back of the packaging comes with a warning and for good reason – there’s some strong stuff in here. Full frontal erect male nudity, naked children, slaughtered animals, rape, bloody violence and decapitation, murder and bizarre religious imagery. Most of the more exploitative content bookends the film and as such the middle part feels a little long (the picture is over two hours in length) but the pay off is completely worth it. Silip is a completely unique film that toys with genre expectations by delivering thought provoking sleaze, rock solid performances and impressive camerawork.


Video 3.5/5

Silip is presented in 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen, which appears to be the right aspect ratio for the film as the compositions used in the film all look quite good. Taken from the original negative (which was not stored under the best of conditions) the film looks good despite some scratches and debris present throughout. Some day for not shots look a little murky but otherwise color reproduction is strong and there are no problems with compression artifacts.


Audio 3.5/5

Watch the film in your choice of Tagalog with optional English subtitles or dubbed into English by way of the two Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo tracks on the DVD. The Tagalog version plays much better than the English one does and it contains a much more interesting soundtrack. The audio setup page states that the Tagalog version is the one we should watch and it proves to be right, the English dubbing hasn’t been done very well though it’s nice to see it included here for those who want it. One minor complaint – the subtitles sometimes misspell Tonya as Tonia.


Extras 4/5

The first disc is barebones save for chapter stops and a few menu screens but Mondo Macabro have supplied a whole bunch of interesting supplements on the second disc in this limited edition set beginning with an interview courtesy of the film's director, Elwood Perez (18:33). The director talks about how he simply wanted to tell stories that moved him rather than pander to the audience, and how 'bold' cinema came to be and why it was given that name. Elwood, who is quite jovial and very honest about his work and his career, talks about some of his other pictures as well as about making Silip and he proves to be a very interesting interview subject. He discusses working with Ricardo Lee, and about the actresses in the picture as well as the politics behind the picture and how his philosophy has changed since the film was made.


A second interview turns the camera on the film's star, Maria Isabel Lopez (13:51). Maria talks about dealing with nudity in Filipino cinema and how when the eighties came around that all changed. She still looks fantastic in this recent interview and she covers her background as a model and how she came to be an actress and how she won the Miss Philippines Pageant. She talks about some of the people she's worked with and then talks about her relationship with Sarsi Emmanuelle, calling her a rival and a best friend. She also covers having to deal with the harsh conditions of the location where the film was shot, and how the actors and actresses strove to make their performances seem reel.


The third and final interview features art director Alfredo Santos (7:48). Santos talks about how he started in cinema as an apprentice art director in 1981 and how he moved up the ladder and eventually got a break on Silip which he says was actually shot in 1983 (it was released in the Philippines in 1985). From there he talks about the experimental cinema of the country and then he covers his work on Silip and how they went for a fairly minimal look on the picture.


All three interviews on the disc were recorded by Andrew Leavold who is currently in production on his documentary The Search For Weng Weng! All we can say is God bless you, Andrew, you're truly doing the Lord's work.


Rounding out the extras on the second disc are some cast and crew biographies and an essay on Silip and Filipino ‘Bold Cinema’ from Mondo Macabro head honcho Pete Tombs. Both add some valuable insight into the production and its place in the country’s cinematic history. Disc credits and the infamous Mondo Macabro promo reel are also found (with a newly added clips from the upcoming release of Snake Sisters).


Overall 4/5

A genuinely unsettling look at the juxtaposition of sex and religion by way of an artsy exploitation film. Silip is an interesting and very well made film. Mondo Macabro’s two-disc set treats the film with the kind of respect rarely afforded to quirky foreign imports such as this, and it’s a testament to the companies dedication to preserving and expanding the audience for some of the most interesting movies from around the world.


Michael Den Boer's review from the 10k Bullets website:


Synopsis: In the remote countryside of Llongo women are abused and treated as sex objects by the locale men. In this village lives two distinctively different sisters Tanya a sexual repressed young woman who detests men and her older sister Selda is a sexually promiscuous woman who uses her body to manipulate others. Simon is the most desired male in the village and he has had sex with just about every woman but Tonya who refuses his advances. What will happen when Simon finally awakens the sexual desires that Tonya has for so long repressed? Silip is not you’re typical sexploitation. The film opens with a gruesome killing of a buffalo and while the killing is done for survival (food supply) it is the way in which the Simon the hunter who kills the animal in an almost primal animalistic fashion. The character Simon figures largely into the plot since he is adored by all the women and all the men wish they where him. One thing that is immediate made apparent with this film is that all the male characters are dominate and if necessary they will assault their women to get what they want.


Being that this film is rooted somewhat in sexploitation like themes like adultery and rape it is no surprise that there are many graphic scenes in which the depiction of sex gets pretty brutal. The towns’ people in the film are all still lost in their backwoods ways and when something goes wrong they are quick to name the culprit and condemn them without a trial. This comes into play later when Tonya and Selda are accused of crimes they didn’t commit and in fact many of their accusers are guiltier then they are.


The scene in the film that is without a doubt the most powerful is when Tonya finally gives herself body and soul over to Simon who screws her like a rag doll. The films two hour plus running time does make for a long evening and yet despite its overlong length the end result is well worth the reward. Ultimately nothing is sacred not even religion in this film as director Elwood Perez manages to create a mesmerizing tell about murder, deceit and carnal lust.


Overall:


The transfer for Silip looks good but not as spectacular as most Monod Macabro releases. The end result is very good despite the films sedated colors and mild print damage. The source material used for this transfer was the original negative so I doubt this film could look any better then it does on this DVD release from Mondo Macabro. In the audio department we are given the choice of either listening to the film in Tagalog with English subtitles or a very poorly dubbed English track which falls out of sync several times. One thing about the English track despite it lacking in quality and performance it does somehow add some minor moments of unintentional humor.


The DVD is loaded with extras all which can be found on the second disc. Extras consist of cast & crew bios, text pieces about the film and interviews with Director Elwood Perez, actress Maria Isabel Lopez and art director Alfredo Santos. Silip is Mondo Macabro most ambitious and accomplished DVD release to date, highly recommended.


Review from the Mondo Digital website:


Holy crap! Just when you thought you'd seen it all, along comes the Philippines-created Silip (shown far too rarely overseas as Daughters of Eve), one of the strangest, sweatiest, sleaziest films you'll ever see. No, seriously; though the packaging likens this to Japanese pink films, a closer description might be an acid-fueled remake of Maladolescenza by Alejandro Jodorowsky with lots of graphic sex and violence. Former Miss Philippines Maria Isabel Lopez was making a name for herself in the '80s thanks to an well-timed erotic acting career during the country's relaxing censorship under the control of Imelda Marcos, who used proceeds from the more expensive "hot" screenings to fund the country's cultural programs. As a result, filmmakers suddenly realized they could churn out whatever extreme visions their hearts desired, resulting in better-known films like Snake Sisters and Scorpio Nights. But folks, you've never come across anything like this.


In a primitive and conservative salt-making community called Ilongo, a bunch of kids are so distraught over the butchering of their beloved buffalo by town stud Simon (Joseph) that a young girl is induced into her first period. Simon spends his spare time sleeping with Maria (Manibog), but he's also lusted after by hot-to-trot Seldda (Emmanuelle), who's just come home from the city with an uncouth American boyfriend in tow. Meanwhile her more devout sister, Tonya (Lopez), teaches church lessons to the kids and eases her raging libido but rubbing salt in her crotch. Pretty soon everyone's lusts are running way out of control, resulting in violent and protracted deaths, incest, and some horrific, misguided village justice.


Though it's over two hours long, Silip is certainly never boring and can't really be classified as a straight-up sex film. It's far too surreal and unpredictable for that, which should be obvious from the opening ten minutes which should have any PETA memebers howling at the screen. (Try eating a burger while you're watching it.) There's only one major gore setpiece in the film, but it's a real doozy and kicks off the gripping final act of the film which really puts the two female leads through their paces. (Apparently they weren't exactly faking their panic during the fiery climax, either!) The haunting music score, fetid village atmosphere, and striking photography involving the nearby beachscapes and desert result in a wholly unique and fascinating spectacle impossible to describe.


Languishing in obscurity outside its native country for decades, Silip has long suffered from a woeful English dub track which replaces all of the music with bland, Romero-style library tracks.


Though that unsatisfying track is present on Mondo Macabro's disc as well, all viewers should instead opt for the original Tagalong audio track with English subtitles, which results in a completely different experience. The anamoprhic transfer from the original negative looks terrific; a disclaimer at the beginning warns of some unavoidable damage, but apart from a dupey-looking title card, it's quite clean and clear. Even better, this is a two-disc set which provides some essential context for this film. A Pete Tombs essay covers the basics of Filipino erotica from the early "wet" days of starlets in clingy, soggy set-through dresses to the days of the "soda" girls (all named after soft drinks, though Mountain Dew doesn't seem to have been taken), to this particular film's presence in the "bold" '80s era, which was sometimes referred to as "pene" to suggest actual hardcore in the films. Silip doesn't quite get there, but one scene does come very, very close. Other background info provides lots of surprising biographical details about the director and the major leads, all of whom led very eventful lives, to say the least. Director Elwood Perez appears on-camera for a lengthy interview (shot in what appears to be a mall food court) in which he discusses his film career and his directorial intentions, covering the details of what directors were allowed to do at the time and how they had to satisfy the foreign market. He's jovial enough and seems to know his stuff, but the real fun can be found in the companion featurette which finds the still-ravishing Lopez talking about the origins of her acting career, her conflicting distrust and respect for her director, the near-death shooting experiences, the sense of respect her family and children still show for her thanks to her career, and her international roles in films like Black Cobra 3 and Dune Warriors.


Easily one of Mondo Macabro's most eye-opening and valuable releases to date, this is already a top candidate among the most essential cult film releases on DVD to date. Bring on Snake Sisters!


Jason McElreath's review from the DVD Drive-In website:


Since their initial stateside release of Juan L√≥pez Moctezuma's ALUCARDA, in early 2003, Mondo Macabro has made a name for itself by bringing strange films from around the globe into the homes of America. Having already successfully released cinematic oddities from Indonesia, Pakistan, Argentina and Turkey, Mondo Macabro's most recent entry opens up the filmic landscape of the Philippines. SILIP (which translates to "peeping" in English) is a hard picture to categorize. It features scenes of harsh savagery backed against ones of erotic tension. Primitive lust, religious confusion and the blossoming of womanhood, all book-ended by scenes of decapitation and rape. The back of the DVD case warns that “this film contains scenes of sex and violence that may disturb some viewers” and they aren’t kidding. Before the opening credits end, it will become very apparent that SILIP is a truly unique cinema experience.


With the village priest away, recovering from a recent illness, Tonya (former Miss Philippines, Maria Isabel Lopez) takes her appointed role as teacher very seriously. Schooling the local children to be pious and to avoid the sins of the flesh is a challenging task, as the adults of the coastal village are of a very sexual nature. Even Tonya, despite her teachings, finds herself frequently longing after Simon (Mark Joseph), the local butcher. Simon yearns to reciprocate Tonya’s lustful intentions, but instead finds comfort in the arms of the widow Maria (Myra Manibog), as Tonya has rebuffed his previous physical advances. Tonya’s situation is complicated with the arrival of Selda (Sarsi Emmanuelle), her best friend, who has been working retail in the city for the last few years and has brought her boyfriend to the village for a week’s vacation. Although still friendly to each other, Tonya represses great jealously and frustration toward Selda for sleeping with Simon before she left for the city years ago. Her arrival brings extra tension to an already frustrated community, which has become tiresome of Tonya’s puritanical teachings and increasingly odd behavior. Selda’s unwanted outsider influence and aggressive sexual demeanor will eventually lead to several tense encounters, both erotic and deadly.


SILIP opens quite viciously with the brutally bludgeoning and slaughter of a buffalo, by village butcher Simon, in full view of the neighborhood children. The children scream and cry for the animal to be spared, but Simon insists that not only is it necessary to kill the beast, so that the village may eat, but that the buffalo in question is in no way any different that any other animal and therefore deserves no special treatment. A real buffalo was used for the scene, making it as visceral and unsettling as any of the animal slaughtering seen in Ruggero Deodato’s CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. With almost all of the film's blood being spilt at the beginning and at the end, the erotic elements that dominate the middle make the 125 minute runtime feel long. These scenes do however feel somewhat heightened by their placement. Shortly after the savage slaughtering that takes place during the film's opening credits, we see one of the young male classmates peeping on Tonya, as she bathes. Wearing only a sheer off-white gown, she takes a bowl of water and pours it over her head repeatedly, letting the water roll down her, soaking the gown which clings to her body. The scene is so effective that you forget that you’re still slack jawed from the previous cattle mutilation.


Tonya's repressed sexual desires helps illustrate the film's theme of religious misdirection, a some what taboo yet relatable theme in the predominantly Catholic Philippines. She diligently teaches the young village girls her strict view that every man is a devil, who hides his horns between his legs. However the guilty for her intimate desires, her mind is distorted to the point that she rubs salt on her vagina as a way to curb her throbbing lust. Another scene has Tonya pleading for her school class to throw sand on her, as she writhes on the ground in a fit of uncontrollable desire. Her actions are in stark contrast to those of Selda, whose open, free love attitude allow her to flaunt her sexuality publicly. It was during the 1980s that the Philippines saw a rise in films dealing with conflicting takes and views on sexuality. Ever evolving, they were dubbed “pene” films, in that they (allegedly) depicted scenes of penetration. During this period, Sarsi Emmanuelle would rise to fame as one of the “soft drink beauties”, a trio of attractive girls (along with Pepsi Paloma and Coca Nicolas) who were all named after soft drinks.


Releasing SILIP as a limited edition two-disc set, Mondo Macabro has gone to great length to provide the best presentation possible. Disc One contains the feature in a brand new 1.85:1 anamorphic High Definition transfer taken from the films original negative. A title card before the film's start is presented to inform the viewer that due to storage problems and the aging of available materials, there are several instances of visible film damage throughout the picture. While consistent, these flaws are minor and rarely become distracting. Colors come through clear, with the brown earth tones of the small village seemingly washing over every aspect of the film. The original Tagalog (Filipino) language track is presented with removable English subtitles that are easy to follow and without error. This audio track comes across clear and maintains the film's original score. The English dub track is also available, and is provided for completeness only.


Heed the advice of the disc's Audio Setup page and watch the original Tagalog version, as the English dub replaces the effective and compelling score of Lutgardo Labad, with a dull montage of library music cues. The original language track also features two scenes in which bastardizations of two American pop hits of the time (from The Police and Madonna respectively) can be heard in the background. These unintentionally hilarious songs help to place the film in an appropriate time frame, and to any one who grew up during the 1980s, will be instantly recognizable.


Fans of strange and erotic cinema from far off lands will be pleasantly surprised at the amount of extras available, as the set's second disc provides an in-depth look at the actors and filmmakers of SILIP. Video interviews with director Elwood Perez, actress Maria Isabel Lopez and art director Alfredo Santos allow several of the key players to reflect on their beginnings in the Filipino film industry and of the production of SILIP. From Bomba To Bold And Beyond is an essay on SILIP and Filipino bold cinema by Pete Tombs, and is a highly enjoyable read and insightful look into the film history and culture of the Philippines. Cast and crew biographies and disc credits round out the second disc’s special features.


Considering the rarity of the workable film sources, Mondo Macabro has gone above and beyond with their most recent release, and has only begun to give U.S. audiences a taste of what the Philippines have to offer. They have also secured Celso Ad Castillo's SNAKE SISTERS for U.S. release, scenes of which can be found at the beginning of their popular coming attraction reel on disc two of the SILIP release, and are again transferring from the original negative. So there will be much to look forward to in the New Year.


Kurt Halfyard's review from the Twitch website:


[It is films like that this one that I count myself privileged to write for a website like Twitch. It is not often that this type of essential cinematic discovery comes along, and I’ll admit there is quite a heady-thrill when you are caught so off guard about a film. I must confess that my experience of the Filipino film industry is rather limited. That brings me into this particularly obscure piece of cinema with a lack of context politically and socially. A good thing that this film deals with themes and images which are timeless and intrinsic enough to the human condition, certainly knowing the state of the country at the time (original release was 1985) has to add a fair amount of additional insight into the film, however it is not really necessary. On a certain level, there is an art-house accessibility that should have had Silip picked up by Criterion (who put out Pier Paolo Pasolini‘s Salo) or Masters of Cinema or Facets years ago.]

Kudos to UK label Mondo Macabro for bringing this intense film out of obscurity and hopefully into a beloved place in cinema history. Surely it belongs beside Nagisa Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo as one of the defining films that go after the extreme side of the human condition. It would be foolhardy (or too convenient) to label this film as simply an ‘Opera of Exploitation’. Still, it does open with a man killing a buffalo with a hammer before disemboweling the beast and hacking off the head with an axe. And he does so, not only in front of the village children, but in particular one grief stricken young boy who viewed the animal more as a pet than livestock. He is told by the man, who during the process of butchering the animal for later distribution amongst the village folks, that the people have to eat. It is a particularly strong way to end the innocence of the child, and also of any unsuspecting audience member. The film is loaded with graphic sex, more than one grizzly murder and at one point, a hedonistic gang rape. And yet, art this clearly is. Unlike many films labeled as extreme or exploitive cinema, Silip is a meticulously plotted, delicately structured and textured film that finds a sublime balance between thematic depth and shocking (occasionally even absurd) imagery. The two hour plus film wraps it all up in package that speaks volumes about human repression, how people individually and collectively deal with guilt and the inevitable unleashing of the beast within if things remain bottled or suppressed for too long. Speaking without irony or hyperbole Silip is a bona fide masterpiece.


Set in the stark coast of northern Philippines, visually the film makes the most of the countryside. As there are no few trees to cover from the sun, there too is little privacy. A thin flap of dried grass my hide a sexual encounter but it doesn’t hide the noises, and temptation to peek in to whatever carnal activity may be going on is only natural. In fact, the literal translation of Silip is “peeping.” While voyeurism is both a staple of eroticism as well as cinema in general, it is hardly the only thing on this films agenda. The story follows two exceptionally attractive girl friends which have caused more than a little conflict and confusion in the little town. Tonya (former Miss Philippines Maria Isabel Lopez) is filling in as the religious teacher of the village while the catholic priest is off in Manila getting treatment for a serious medical condition. She uses religion as a shield for her smoldering lust towards the town butcher, Simon (seen in the opening moments slaughtering the buffalo) and pushes abstinence, purity and religious fervour on the impressionable young ones. Most of the townsfolk find this a little intense, in particular Simon’s current lover, a widow and mother of Miguel (the little boy who was unhappy about the buffalo slaughter and going through some Freudian issues in regards to Simon having his way with his mom).


Then there is the trashy vixen Selda (Sarsi Emmanuelle). Returning from exile from Manila with a white boyfriend, make-up and a boom box playing Madonna (Like a Virgin, naturally). Exiled for having sex with Simon years back and likely preventing any meaningful relationship between Tonya and Simon (these people have some serious emotional baggage from the incident). Selda seems to be back in town for one of two reasons. Either she is on a lark to show off her consumer goods and white boyfriend (signs of success) to the town and have kinky rural sex on grass mats or she is honestly trying to get Tonya out of what Selda refers to “this hell, ” meaning the village. The tension between these two women (both actresses are not only gorgeous, but excellent in their opposite roles) and handsome stud Simon are the lust-triangle which is the driving force of the film which plays out like an exotic Shakespearean tragedy. A young student Pia, seen getting her first period in the opening moments (in a shot of blood running down her leg immediately following Simon hoisting the buffaloes horns) is caught between the two womens opposite life outlooks. Tonya is all catholic guilt and repression and barely bottled lust (at one point Tonya has the children throw hot sand on her loins to put out her desire) while Selda is the embodiment of brazen passion and devil-may-care attitude for religion, propriety or restraint. The rest of the townsfolk seem to be harboring a collective guilt and confusion at the death of Tonya’s mother some years ago, not to mention Selda’s self imposed exile. It’s a boiling cauldron which would make David Lynch smile and the filmmakers have constructed a perfect storm of Catholicism and gender-politics provocation with one of the most intense climaxes this side of Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man. Rarely has the loss of innocence or the lengths people will go to crawl through the mud in an attempt to recapture that innocence been visualized so vividly. A failed plea for rational thought or even a semblance of justice is lost to the collective (and willfully blind) passion of the mob and the animal nature man. The willingness to deny seeing clearly - even with the facts are so visibly on display - is an engrossing way to consider and compare the burning of the needs of the flesh and the equally burning needs of the spiritual. If you are not shaken to your very core at the conclusion of this film, well check your pulse—or your moral center of gravity.


While Silip will likely live or die by string of shocking images on display (and there are many, all shot well above the level of any average exploitation film), there is an art to the execution that cannot be denied. Director Elwood Perez (who cut his teeth making those Wonder Woman by way of Superman films, the Darna series, but has worked in nearly every other genre of film and is well known in his native land) is caught between making something along the lines of the Japanese Pink films (the Filipino style, popular at the time, featuring pretty-darn-close-to-hardcore-sex, is often referred to as ‘bold (slang for nude) film’) and the Euro-art stylings of Liliana Cavani. A match made in Hell, surely a good thing to rile up the unsuspecting populace.


DVD Details

UK exploitation label Mondo Macabro has put out a high quality transfer (from a rare negative of the film) and includes the infamously badly-dubbed version of the film and the proper Tagalog dialogue track complete with the haunting score which is noteworthy for beautifully re-contextualizing several of the sex scenes within the film, giving them a sort of horror (rather than titillating vibe). A note on the disc makes a convincing case to avoid the dubbed version due to poorly translated dialogue and crappy stock score elements. It is noteworthy that this was the version that the rest of the world was more or less familiar with under the suggestive title “Daughters of Eve” on the US VHS release and occasionally seen distributed on ratty bootleg VHS with Greek subtitles. If nothing else, this is a telling case for seeing international cinema in the original form, not some chopped up hack-job from a make-a-buck-quick entrepreneur who decides what his customers thinks they want. Mondo Macabro does a bang-up job here on the restore, even if they couldn’t resist the urge to put the misleading label “Asian Erotica – Raw and Untamed” on the front cover.


The bonus 2nd platter is rounded out with an essay of Filipino Bold Cinema and lengthy (meaning substantial) interviews with director Elwood Perez, star Maria Isabel Lopez and art director Afredo Santos, all of whom not only speak candidly, but also in speak fluent English. While not as insane as the reel shown at Fantasia this year in front of Zibahkhana, the 7 minute preview/collage of other Macabro titles is always worth a look for the batshit insanity on display in their particular cinematic niche, one that Silip surprisingly transcends.


Kurt Dahlke's review on the DVD Talk website:


One need look no further than the subtitle of Silip to guess a central message to the madness. It's not the only message, but taken with the others it foments an environment ripe for cinematic exploitation. Which in fact is what Silip is being sold as - an exploitation picture. While there are exploitation elements a-plenty (and to list them would only further ghettoize the picture) the question remains, why was Silip committed to celluloid? Is Silip a high-minded excuse to shower the screen with a little sex and violence, or a trash epic for the penitent? I'm afraid I don't have the answers, but I can assure you that Silip is not your usual empty-headed sleaze show.


The Daughters of Eve in this case are Tonya and Selda. Tonya is a sort-of interim Catholic Priest in a tiny Philippine village in a desolate, desert-like coastal region. Selda, Tonya's sister, is the prodigal daughter, returning from untold iniquities in the big city of Manila. The villagers object strenuously to Tonya's brand of Catholic teaching, they believe she's leading what little flock that will listen straight to hell. Tonya was happier minus Selda, whom she believes stole Tonya's only love, Simon the village butcher, and a bit of an outcast himself. Though Simon lives on the outskirts doing unclean work, still he delivers the meat - in more ways than one.


Sultry Simon's propensity to fling a bit of sausage about when he's delivering the loins is just one leaf in this lexicon of lust and bloodletting. But as far as exploitative elements, it's not the only thing going. The bounty of bronzed Filipina/o flesh on hand must contend with a bit of brutality here and there; rape, murder, and sexual torture of young and old are all foreshadowed by the brutal onscreen slaughter of a live ox that opens the movie. For many this will put paid to any notion of watching the movie - it's a cruel and disturbing sight. But as Simon says, the animal's die was cast when it was born, and everything must die.


Connoisseurs solely of crusty cinematic corruption won't get Silip, however. Other reviewers have complained of the long boring bits in between each scandalous act, completely missing the point. Blunt though its potentially disagreeable message may be, Silip delivers it in small-scale epic fashion, with a lyric beauty that's hard to argue against. Using the desert-like scenery to maximum effect, nearly every shot is beautiful to look at, fostering a meditative, sweaty atmosphere that's truly unique. Among many gorgeous shots is a standout sex-scene on a dune framed by the copulating couple in the upper right middle ground and a sun-struck ox in the foreground on the left. In this milieu a bizarre morality play of biblical ilk is played out, as the entire village is eventually swept up into mania and mob violence that points at two disparate themes.


Theme one, of course, is the one hinted at by the title, and supported by the huge influence of Catholicism on the Philippines. In the minds of the villagers - and erroneously so, for the most part - all of the evil in the village is down to Tonya and Selda, the daughters of Eve. For those looking, there may be another more important (and empirically true) message to Silip; without clear, honest communication amongst people, and even in their own hearts, we are reduced to savage beasts. Yes, our die is cast on the day we are born, but how we go out may just be up to us.


The DVD

Video: Silip looks spectacular in anamorphic 1.85:1 ratio enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. It is a new digital transfer from negatives (a few of which - very few) show slight film damage, and is something of a rescue job for a movie that - while successful in the Philippines - was an outrage elsewhere. In general this is a great showcase for the stunning scenery and cinematography of a sun-drenched film that was shot entirely during the day.


Sound: You are given the choice of watching Silip with its original moody and evocative soundtrack and Tagalog language dialog (with English subtitles) or with a bogus dubbed version full of inappropriate temp-track scoring. The dubbed version is probably what gives people the idea this is just a stupid sexploitation romp, with poor translations, flat performances and some children's voices dubbed by adult actors. Skip it for sure. Presumably both audio versions are presented in Dolby Digital Stereo and certainly the subtitles track sounds excellent.


Extras: Silip comes with a pretty small ox-load of extras for a double-disk special addition. Yes, one might question whether double-disking it wasn't a way to just boost the price a bit. First off is an 18-minute Interview with the film's Director Elwood Perez. We hear the voice of Andrew Leavold, Phillipines B-movie scholar, (www.andrewleavold.blogspot.com) questioning once in the interview, but mostly it's Perez covering a fair amount of ground quickly, with lots of abrupt fades-to-black interspersing questions. Topics range from an overview of Filipino cinema (and the 'Bold' genre of Silip) to Perez's background and ethos to the real meat, the behind-the-scenes story of Silip. Perez comes off, earnest, realistic and entertaining - the type of guy you'd like to have a beer with. But things go deeper. The next 13-minute Interview is with star Maria Isabel Lopez, who hits the usual background marks before outlining her experiences on the 'set' of Silip. She seems to remember some hardships among the rough scenes she had to film - hardships borne of Perez's desire for realism - as well as bemused confusion with how aspects of the filming process and script seemed to change daily. The last 8-minute Interview is with Art Director Alfredo Santos. Aside from being amusingly located in an art gallery in which an assistant is loudly sanding the walls in the background, this interview gently dissects how Santos had such a hard time with Perez and his gonzo style of direction that he quit the business for a time, and eventually went back to work in commercials. An insightful trio of interviews. The aforementioned Toombs contributes an Essay (maybe 2500 words?) on Filipino and Bold cinema that fleshes out why this movie is significant, and not just exploitation. There are also Cast and Crew Biographies for the three stars and director, nothing too weighty here, but interesting to learn about the actor who played love interest Simon, an actor who can do soft-core and butcher an ox in the same movie! A seven-minute reel of Previews for other Mondo Macabro titles will have you drooling for the outrageous sleaze and slime of the seven seas that is the company's stock-in-trade.


Final Thoughts: With enough sensationalistic, brutal and over-sexed scenes Silip seems a perfect fit for Mondo Macabro. However stretched over a two-hour running time, with awesome cinematography, impassioned performances, haunting music and a powerful (and powerfully disturbing) message - later disavowed by director Perez - Silip is much more than your average foreign geek-fest. It's more like a Japanese art film - to my eyes a mix of Woman in the Dunes, In the Realm of the Senses and a Spanish/ Catholic soap opera -that will hypnotize viewers who go in with an open mind. With a boatload of bronzed nudity, sex and violence to attract the masses, Silip is strong, thoughtful filmmaking intended to trick its audience into thinking. While the 'women are the root of all evil' message is ultimately distasteful, the truths exposed, and the path we're lead down in getting there, consists of quite a sumptuous, sensuous journey. Bold viewers are Recommended to check it out.


Dennis Dermody’s review from his blog:


One of the looniest films to come from the wonderful DVD company Mondo Macabro is this crackpot 1986 film, Silip: Daughters of Eve. When Imelda Marcos was ruling in the Philippines, her dream of creating a film festival center caused her to ease up on censorship in the movies. Filmmakers could create "bold" movies -- which meant a combination of sex and melodramas with a little bit of hardcore thrown in. These films could be taxed by the government and the money went towards Imedla's dream project.


Silip was one of these films. It's set in a seaside, salt-mining village where former Miss Philippines Maria Isabel Lopez stars as a horny but violently religious woman who lusts for the town stud but suddenly, when her cosmopolitan and sexually liberated sister shows up and goes after him, the fireworks begin. Lots of nudity and Catholic guilt, not to mention beheadings and mob hysteria, and you've got yourself one bizarre, insane, cinematic experience. There's a second disc with interviews with the director and a marvelous interview with Maria Isabel Lopez, who defends her sexy movie roles with disarming frankness.


Rob Schroeder's review from the Bloodtype Online website:


This sure didn’t start out like a movie that features 2 naked girls holding each other on the cover. Nonetheless…we open with a scene of a buffalo (it don’t look like no buffalo I ever saw, but that’s what they called it) being killed while a group of kids look on. This is not for you animal lovin’ peoples, either. Its cold killing- beat the thing to death and slice it open. But it’s so the village can eat, not outta pure hatred because the beast shit on the front dirt or anything like that. Now go eat your chicken, the one that died of a heart attack or whatever natural cause’s chickens die of.


Flash forward to a village where children are running around and a grandmother & granddaughter-Tonya- are having a conversation about religion and insanity. A pair of small girls comes running over to the granddaughter and asked- ASKED! - to be taught. What else are they going to do…father has sent them away, so he can make time with his beautiful bride, and for all her talkin’ Tonya realizes she too is only human, gets a little hot and closes up the hut and removes her clothes and…..cleanses herself while praying not to get caught up by temptation.


So Simon the hunter comes back to camp, spreads his meat around, gets turned down by one chick, starts to leave, she begs him to come back and after a few insults & some double entendre thrown his way, she begins to fellate him. Nice! Am I going to deep with the details? Puritanical Tonya tries to save the children of the village from the Devil himself, a.k.a. all men that are driven by lust. Most of the rest of the village, children excluded, believe that Tonya’s crazy.


A former village resident-Selda- shows up with her new white man and we discover a little secret about our Tonya. The return also offers a new challenge of faith to Tonya as she’s given a ‘horny pendant’ that will drive men towards her…as if she needed any help. Can Tonya hold out? Selda also threatens to tear down everything that Tonya’s taught the children.


So what we have here is the story of a young woman, armed only with her faith, stuck in the middle of Sodom. And while my only complaint is that it drags on a bit too much, I still think it’s a good movie, another winner from Mondo Macabro. Queue it up, you Netflixer’s.


***


Stuart Willis' review on the Sex Gore Mutants website:


SILIP opens with a scene guaranteed to test the mettle of the average viewer: An adult member of a small Filipino village, clubs a buffalo to death in front of a group of wailing children. He then slashes its throat, guts it and beheads it. All of which is shown graphically, and is not simulated.


The kids continue to cry, one boy Taigo being particularly distraught at the prospect of their buffalo being slain. But the man tells them to stop their sobbing, reminding them that they've watched him kill animals countless times - they shouldn't be upset just because they were familiar with this particular one.


One girl, the demure Pia, begins to smile at the point. But her mood soon changes when she starts bleeding from between her legs.


And so begins SILIP, a frankly astonishing examination of sexual awareness and oppression within an isolated community.


The film unfolds briskly in dialogue-heavy manner, introducing us to a small village of mudhuts, where we meet: Tonya (Maria Isabel Lopez) - a pious school teacher who has retained her virginity in adulthood; Pia - a student of Tonya's, who hangs on her every word and strives to live a life as pure as her teacher's; and Simon (Mark Joseph), the man who slew the buffalo - the alpha male figure who will bone anything that moves, enticing ladies with the raw meat of animals he slaughters. He, in particular, is hankering for a piece of Tonya.


Tonya manages to stave Simon off, much to his frustration - which he takes out on his on-off girlfriend who seems quite happy to verbally abuse him for chasing other women before changing tuner and pleasuring him orally moments later.


Pia continues to look up to Tonya - whether it be watching in awe as she freaks out while holding a sermon on the sins of the flesh at the local church, or listening intently as Tonya warns her than men are devils who keep their horn between their legs.


It's an odd, almost bestial world that this tight-knit community live in. But, without the influence of the outside world to guide them, these villagers are comfortable in their manner of upbringing. Children in particular learn the ways of the world - adultery, violence, periods - through voyeurism. They know no different.


But all this changes when a bus of tourists passes by the village, dropping two people off. These are Selda (Sarsi Emmanuelle), a former member of the tribe who went to find a new life in the US, and Ronnie, her dumb American beau.


Selda is an old friend of Tonya's, and is instantly taken under the wing of Tonya and her gran. As the couple are not married, Ronnie - or the "white monkey" as he's referred to - must sleep in a separate hut. But Selda has been corrupted by the western world and returned as a sex-mad slut who is quick to criticise Tonya's strict morals and staid attire. She also reminds Tonya how she fancied Simon in her youth. Pia takes notes ...


Things really step up a gear when Selda seduces Simon one night, the pair making love in front of his bound and gagged girlfriend. Ronnie and Tonya stumble across this act, and a fight ensues between the men. Ronnie is sent packing to his hut, where Tonya checks in on him only to have him try to force her to fellate him. Luckily, her gran steps in and saves the day.


This is the turning point of the film for our characters. Tonya becomes an outcast in the village when people start to believe she set out to seduce Ronnie, and had been saving her cherry for a white man. Pia, at a vulnerable age sexually, begins to doubt everything Tonya has instilled in her and questions her morals as a result. Selda is viewed upon as a witch but, unsurprisingly, remains regrettably unrepentant. Simon, meanwhile, continues to use his dick as a weapon and move in ever closer on the object of his desire, Tonya.


All the while, these sordid events continue to be witnessed and digested by the community's impressionable children ...


What we have in SILIP is a fascinating and bold exploration of three women and how their attitudes towards their changing bodies differ. On a wider scale it's also a meditation on how sexuality forms itself in brutal, primitive conditions. The corrupting influence of the outside world is a significant factor thematically too, as is the inference that we must strive to protect our children, as exposure to adult concerns at an early age can lead to gross misinterpretations - there's a wry mirror image of the opening scene towards the end of the film, that illustrates this well.


So, SILIP deals with some pretty heavy social issues and delivers them in a very dialogue-heavy script that runs for over two hours. It's subtitled and aside from the bus that arrives midway through (which at that point seemed like an anachronism: I had no idea what era this film was set in), the action is confined to these characters in their desert-like surroundings.


If the opening lines of this review didn't put you off, then the last two paragraphs may have. For everyone else who's still interested, SILIP is a fantastic experience.


The acting is broad. I mean, very broad - bordering on hysterical at times. Furthermore, the dialogue this zealous lot are delivering adds fuel to the fervour by being at times insanely overwrought. But these elements come together to lend proceedings a sense of delirium, much as the deliberate over-acting in the films of Andrej Zulawski (POSSESSION; DIABEL; THE THIRD PART OF THE NIGHT) does. It's absurd, yet brilliant.


The cinematography is amazing. Well, not so much what the cinematographer achieves, but the beautiful Filipino landscapes and natural locations he's privileged enough to capture. The film is gorgeous throughout - even when it's being ugly.


The storyline may sound banal and it wasn't easy thinking of how to sell the synopsis, but run with it if you can - it does all come together, and it makes perfect sense while you're watching it.


All of which suggests SILIP is a film the arthouse crowd will adore. And they most certainly will ... if they can get past scenes of unsimulated animal violence, prolonged softcore sex set-pieces, a decapitation, a gang-rape, blood gushing from Tonya's vagina, Simon's erect penis covered in blood ...


I'm tempted to say SILIP is like one of Joe D'Amato's 70's sex films reimagined through the lens of Alexandro Jodorowsky. But with added violence and social commentary. Hopefully, that sounds appealing!


Mondo Macabro have come up trumps again with another astounding discovery. Their 2-disc Special Edition is equally alarming.


Disc 1 presents the film uncut and uncensored in it's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It is enhanced for 16x9 TV sets. While there's a disclaimer before the film apologising for some of the image quality, I had no problem with it whatsoever. Yes, there's occasional grain and mild softness here and there but overall the picture is excellent - some scenes, later in the film, looked pretty flawless in terms of definition. A cracking job.


Audio is available in the original Filipino (Tagalog) language, or English dubbed. Both are presented in 2.0. I took Mondo Macabro's on-disc advice and opted for the original language which also preserves the original score. It's a solid, consistent job throughout with no hiss, distortion or drop-out. Optional English subtitles are at hand.


The film can be accessed via 14 chapters.


Over on disc 2, we get some very interesting extra features.


First is a 9-page essay on SILIP and furthermore the trend of "Filipino Bold Cinema" from MM head honcho Pete Tombs. This is interesting stuff that left hoping he'll get the opportunity to release more of this stuff onto DVD.


Next is an 18-minute interview with director Elwood Perez, filmed in what appears to be a shopping mall. He's a likeable, modest chap who speaks fluent English and gives an interesting account of his career leading up to SILIP, plus memories of it's actual shoot.


A 14-minute interview with Lopez - a former Miss Philippines (!) - follows, and is another good watch. Again, her English is excellent and she too is humble. She has a great memory for events and still looks hot.


An 8-minute interview with art director Alfredo Santos is more mechanic than the previous too but still worth a listen, especially seeing as though it's a lot of his work that will linger in your mind after having your mind fucked by SILIP. Again, the interview is conducted in English.


Biographies for Perez, Emmanuelle, Lopez and Joseph follow, along with a fimography for Perez.

Finally, we get the traditional Mondo Macabro promo reel, which is now a whopping 8 minutes long. It includes all sorts these days, from SNAKE SISTERS to THE GIRL SLAVES OF MORGANA LE FAY.


A wonderful discovery, given an excellent 2-disc release from Mondo Macabro. What we do without them?!