Saturday, April 07, 2007

Silip (1985)



Silip (Elwood Perez, 1985)
aka Daughters of Eve

Elwood Perez's Silip has that ball-grabbing opening. It is that sort of opening that immediately catches your attention to either go on with the film with much more curiosity and gusto, or to just leave it be and consider yourself salvaged from further moral damage. The film begins with Simon (Mark Joseph), the village butcher, hitting a live carabao on the head. The carabao collapses as the man keeps on hitting it on the head. It's a savage sequence. Perez makes use of a real live carabao, probably a lot cheaper than an animatronic one (Perez didn't really had to worry about animal rights activists back then) which is later on killed, disemboweled, beheaded and butchered right in front of our eyes. The carabao, supposedly the pet of one of the village boys, is pleaded by the village kids to be spared. Headstrong Simon disagrees and preaches about the practicalities in life: what makes their carabao different from the rest, that the beast will die anyway, and that the village requires that he do the brutal act so that everyone can eat.

Silip (its literal English translation is Peeping) was released outside the Philippines as Daughters of Eve. The film was peddled as bizarre curiosity from an exotic land, a softcore (or described as near-hardcore) pornographic feature; and quite rightly so. The film features an onslaught of sex scenes, both titillating and disturbing, and long stretches of time wherein all we see are naked bodies prancing around the village. Yet there seems to be something else brewing beneath the film's flesh-colored celluloid other than mere titillation. Silip is very rebellious in its themes and even in its production.

Made in 1985 during the decline of Ferdinand Marcos' dictatorship in the Philippines, Silip was one among the many soft-core to hard-core (locally referred to as pene films because it featured actual penetration) that sneaked through the uncharacteristic laxity of the local censors. Unusually though, Silip, unlike other sex-themed features like Peque Gallaga's Scorpio Nights(1985) , did not try to dent governmental institutions or just to make a quick buck out of the nation-wide depression and dissent, but instead sought to arouse questioning of that other important and prominent institution in the Philippines, the Catholic Church.

The film features two sisters, Tonya (Maria Isabel Lopez) and Selda (Sarsi Emmanuelle, one third of the trio of sexy actresses named by their managers after soft drinks). Tonya teaches catechism to the children of the village while the parish priest is recuperating from an illness in another town. However, Tonya has a secret sexual attraction for Simon, who is currently bedding Maria (Myra Manibog, whose surname an obvious pun on the Tagalog word for "horny"), elder sister of the young lad from the opening (now holding a grudge against Simon for killing his carabao, and having sex with his sister).

Selda just came home from the city with an American lover. She's the exact opposite of Tonya as her views on sex is more liberal and less guilt-filled. Amidst the apparent disagreement between the two, a similarity surfaces: that both of them are in a state of heat. Tonya tries to ease the lust by rubbing herself with salt or sand while Selda, on the other hand, beds any man she sees while desperately eying Simon.

Scripted by Ricky Lee, who has achieved revered status as the Philippines' best film scribe, the film features several sequences of remarkable bravura. Perez, who alongside the late Joey Gosiengfiao has ushered in Philippine films with cult exploitative flavor, knows the value of shock. Silip may in fact be regarded as numerous eye-opening and sweat-producing scenes stringed together by drab and lengthy connectors; which is probably why the film feels far too long. The opening scene can only be topped by the film's astounding conclusion: a gang rape that appears to be a sweaty, greasy and undoubtedly un-arousing orgy inside a bamboo shanty. Each big scene is an attack on valued principles and norms of propriety; it's actually quite easier to digest the film as mere exploitation than actual art. Art dictates a semblance of truth while exploitation is for mere sensual pleasuring.

The inclusion of religiosity within the context of the characters' flesh-starved existence complicates matters. It seems to beg the question of that difficult balancing act of rigid faith and the natural call of the flesh. It definitely is not a masterpiece as Perez's filmmaking is quite too elementary to raise the film's level to heaven heights. However, it cannot be considered as mere curiosity, or even definitive of Philippine cinema during that era of governmental turmoil and public discontent. The film is Pasolini-esque in its irreverence and Bunuel-esque in its social absurdity.

******
This post is my contribution to The Bleeding Tree: The Trashy Movie Celebration Blog-A-Thon.

Mondo Macabro has done an excellent job in restoring this unique film. Previously, one can only view this film, dubbed in English and subtitled in Greek, through the many bootlegs that roam the black market and the internet but with the loving dedication of the guys behind Mondo Macabro, we have with us a 2-DVD set, with the original Tagalog track and a bevy of extra features.

20 comments:

Neil said...

Thanks for this. I really am fascinated to see this movie now. Great post!

Oggs Cruz said...

I believe the film might get a DVD release in the future. I read somewhere that this film caused someone who was being trained to become a Catholic priest to step out of the seminary. I believe that guy has a blog somewhere.

Pete Tombs said...

It is coming out on DVD. We (Mondo Macabro) are releasing it this November (just in time for Christmas). It's a double disk limited edition with interviews with direk Perez, art director Alfred Santos and star Maria Isabel Lopez. If you've only ever seen this film from the badly dubbed, wrongly framed, cut and incorrectly graded VHS - you ain't seen it at all! The dub removes the amazing original score, for example. We went back to the original negative and completely remastered the whole film. No umatic copies bumped up to dvd here. Includes the English dub for completeness only, but with the original Tagalog track and new English subs.

Oggs Cruz said...

Thanks Pete,

I'm really grateful that you guys are bringing this to DVD. I've also seen the Tagalog print (and yes, the music is beautiful) but not in the shape it should be seen. I sincerely hope your company's experience with Filipino cinema does not end with Silip; there's a bunch of other films worth investing no (those by Elwood Perez's friend Joey Gosiengfiao (Temptation Island comes to mind), the Shake Rattle and Roll's, Peque Gallaga's horror films, and while you're there, try branching out to Brocka, Bernal territory etc.).

I'm sure you've already noticed, these films are in dire conditions. Hopefully the profit you'll get from Silip can be put into preservation of the films from the country that bred Perez.

Pete Tombs said...

Thanks for your words of support, Oggs. We're well aware of real Filipino cinema (as opposed to the "made in the Philippines" US films of Eddie Romero et al).

My first exposure to your national cinema came many years ago via a rare screening on BBC TV of Manila in the Claws of Neon and I've tried to stay in touch ever since. Over the last 8 or 9 years we've made a number of attempts to bring some Filipino films to US DVD. The main issues have been non-availability of good materials and the seeming indifference of rights owners to the concept of selling their films overseas. One we have secured is Celso Ad Castillo's Snake Sisters. I believe this has come out on VCD or some such recently. I've not seen it. But I heard it was taken from the cut and poorly mastered umatic copies done some 20 years or so ago. We actually have the original negative which was damaged (so we were told) beyond repair. Being stubborn, we decided to go ahead anyway and spent a small fortune proving that the neg was INDEED beyond repair. However, what we have (which is more or less the original uncut version of the film) looks for the most part stunning and will be out some time next year. I'll keep you posted.

I have Temptation Island on both VCD and DVD. It's great. Watching it only makes me think of all the many dozens of other fascinating Filipino films that seem to have disappeared forever, now existing only as tantalising admats in old newspapers or in the fading memories of people lucky enough to have seen them in the cinema twenty or thirty years ago.

We're in discussion on a few other titles but are having problems getting even viewing copies of some. So if anyone out there has a screenable video copy of The Boatman - please email me direct or through the website! We'll be eternally grateful. And maybe I've got something you're looking for.

NB - My comments on Eddie Romero's films are in no way a put-down. Just that, by Eddie's very own admission - these films were not made to be screened in the Philippines and, apsrt from some cast and settings, have little to do with Filipino life or culture. That said, they're often fun films, but not really "Filipino" films in the way that Brocka, Bernal, Gallaga etc are

Oggs Cruz said...

Thanks Pete,

Mike de Leon (director of Kisapmata, etc.) owns the rights to Manila in the Claws of Neons and has a pristine print of the film. However, I think he wants Criterion to do it, and he's not very approachable as a person.

Scorpio Nights is in bad need of a better DVD release (the release of Regal is heavily cut). You can try contacting Jojo de Vera for screenable copies of films; he has a blog (linked from mine... sari-saring sineng pinoy) but it's in Tagalog. You can contact him from here: bona1980@yahoo.com. He's based in New York.

If you need help with your DVD releases, feel free to contact me in oggsmoggs@yahoo.com.

Pete Tombs said...

Thanks again, Oggs.

Manila in the Claws of Neon is exactly the kind of film that Criterion should be putting out. Unfortunately it's also exactly the kind of film they'll never do. A while back I was in discussion with a Criterion employee about them releasing some Indian movies. It never happened. The decision makers there are very uneasy about going outside their comfort zone. And that zone is quite a small one, I think. Classic arthouse cinema (French new wave, Italian neo-realist etc) and Japanese 60s films seem to be about it.

Nonetheless, I think Mike De Leon should definitely approach them (if he hasn't already). There are a number of good documentaries about Brocka that would make great extras and I guess quite a few of his collaborators are still around to talk. It's certainly one Criterion release that I'd snap up.

I have both DVD and VHS of Scorpio Nights. It's not only one of my favorite films but I think it's one of the best Filipino films ever. Certainly of the ones I've seen. The DVD is a sad travesty. Looks like a VHS copy and is completely unrestored and without subs. No way to treat a great film. Unfortunately, the recent re-issues of classic Filipino films from Regal etc have not been much better. They never seem to want to go back to the original film materials and do it properly. I think that the DVD of Manila By Night was cut too... Am I right? I seem to recall scenes in the old VHS copy I had that weren't here.

Oggs Cruz said...

I recently purchased the Manila by Night DVD and I think it's cut too, or at least according to people who have seen the film originally in the theaters.

Pete, thanks for this overwhelming interest on our national cinema, and I really hope that your company release more of our classics and maybe our neglected contemporary films (Lav Diaz's Batang West Side is in the middle of a copyright battle, Mario O'Hara's more recent features like Sisa, Demons, etc. are neglected in the digital medium).

Anonymous said...

Hi Oggs,

This is Len.
I just checked out Mondo Macabre's website and noticed the film "Silip" listed for release and while I was looking for more info on this film I came across your review.
But I really got caught up in your exchange with Pete Tombs about Mike De Leon. I was wondering if it would be worthwhile to start a petition to send to Criterion of Mr. De Leon's behalf?
I know that this is an older post so I'm not sure if you'll see it. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

PUTANG INA MO ELWOOD PEREZ!!!
PUTANG INA MO ELWOOD PEREZ!!!
PUTANG INA MO ELWOOD PEREZ!!!

HINDI KA NA NAAWA SA KALABAW NA BINABOY AT PINASLANG MO PARA LANG SA "CINEMATIC REALISM"!

PUTANG INA MO ELWOOD PEREZ!!!
FUCK YOU, DAMN YOU AND FUCK EVERYTHING WHAT YOU STAND FOR YOU DISGUSTING FAGGOT!!! YOU POOR EXCUSE FOR A PIECE OF SHIT!!!

PUTANG INA MO TALAGA!!!

Anonymous said...

PUTANG INA MO ELWOOD PEREZ!!!
PUTANG INA MO ELWOOD PEREZ!!!
PUTANG INA MO ELWOOD PEREZ!!!

HINDI KA NA NAAWA SA KALABAW NA BINABOY AT PINASLANG MO PARA LANG SA "CINEMATIC REALISM"!

PUTANG INA MO ELWOOD PEREZ!!!
FUCK YOU, DAMN YOU AND FUCK EVERYTHING WHAT YOU STAND FOR YOU DISGUSTING FAGGOT!!! YOU POOR EXCUSE FOR A COCKSUCKING PIECE OF SHIT!!!

PUTANG INA MO!!!
PUTANG INA MO!!!
PUTANG INA MO!!!
PUTANG INA MO!!!
PUTANG INA MO!!!
PUTANG INA MO!!!
PUTANG INA MO!!!
PUTANG INA MO!!!
PUTANG INA MO!!!
PUTANG INA MO!!!
PUTANG INA MO!!!

BABALIK DIN SA'YO YAN!!!

FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU!!!
FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU!!!
FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU!!!
FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU!!!
FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU!!!

PUTANG INA MONG BAKLA KA!!!
ANAK KA NG PUTANG INA MO!!!

HAYOP KA!!!

WORDS ARE NOT ENOUGH TO CHASTISE YOU, YOU SADISTIC CUNT!!!

SANA SAPITIN MO NG ISANG TRILYONG BESES ANG GINAWA MO SA WALANG MALAY NA KALABAW, HAYOP KANG PUTANG INA MO KA, BAKLA!!!

PUUUUUTANNNGGGGG INA MOOOOOOOOO ELWOOD PEREZ!!!!!!!!!!

Oggs Cruz said...

Mr. Anonymous,

Serious or not, that was a hoot. Thanks for making me laugh.

Anonymous said...

You're welcome, Mr. Oggs Cruz.

Mondo Pete said...

don't understand much outside the swear words, but the film certainly got him (her?) worked up, didn't it? I believe the popular expression is "get a life". But maybe we should sign anonymous up to do an audio commentary for the film.

Anonymous said...

lagi naman tayong pumapatay ng kalabaw ah... kundi wala tayong nilaga, bistek, sinigang... siguro naman kinain din nila yung kalabaw

UnpredictablyUnpredictable said...

Shocked and disturbed... This movie is something... GOD!!!

At first I thought that this film is exploitation or something... This is the only movie that I see children, I mean minors in legal description, being featured in the movie without clothes on... But as I go along with the movie, there is something that made me think that this movie is not just that ordinary movie...

Was it the story??? The plot??? or the provocative role that the actors and actresses just did for this movie...???

I was disturbed by the fact that this movie was not regulated... Darn!! It's to graphical... I could not just imagine if what will be the reaction of the public if it is shown or released at present...

Hehehehe.... MTRCB will be faint.. hahahaha...

Anyways, I think this is worth for the collection since it is one of a kind... Something that we will not see nowadays... hehehehe....

But I think that is enough... That movie is enough of those too shocking scenes... hehehehe...

After watching that movie, I think I can't sleep well tonight... hehehe...

Wish me all the luck...

Anonymous said...

grabe, i just saw this film last night and i couldn't sleep! sooo disturbing. music was incredible. i couldn't tear my eyes off the screen even during the graphic scenes (yikes).

i only wish more filipinos would see this.

- anna

Anonymous said...

matindi tong pelikulang ito

Anonymous said...

Medyo disturbing lang yung mga scene na may bata, lalo na yung scene na nakatayo sa harapan ng batang babae si Mark Joseph na hubo'y hubad. Iniisip ko nung una may daya, pero hindi eh, talagang sila din yun walang doble na midget na kunwari bata. Wala bang law against sa pag cast sa mga bata sa mga adult films. Ano na kaya nangyari sa mga artistang bata sa pelikulang ito, yung isa kahawig ni Assunta de Rossi.

Anonymous said...

The gods tempt people for which they are most weak. Artificial Intelligence will create desire in people's minds for the following sins:::
1. Alcohol
2. Drugs
3. Preditory "earning"
4. Homosexuality
5. Gambling
6. Something for nothing/irresponsibility (xtianity)
7. Polygamy/superiority over women/misogyny (Islam)
Much like the other prophets Mohhamed (polygamy/superiority over women/misogyny) and Jesus (forgiveness/savior), the gods use me for temptation as well. In today's modern society they feel people are most weak for popular culture/sensationalism, and the clues date back to WorldWarII and Unit731:TSUSHOGO.
It has been discussed that, similar to the Matrix concept, the gods will offer a REAL "Second Coming of Christ", while the "fake" Second Coming will come at the end and follow New Testiment scripture and their xtian positioning. I may be that real Second Coming.
What I teach is the god's true way. It is what is expected of people, and only those who follow this truth will be eligible to ascend into heaven as children in a future life. They offered this event because the masses have just enough time to work on and fix their relationship with the gods and ascend, to move and grow past Planet Earth, before the obligatory xtian "consolation prize" of "1000 years with Jesus on Earth" begins.

Your job as a future mother is to learn the god's ways and to help your child understand despite the negative reinforcement and conditioning of today's society. Without consciousous parents the child will have no hope, and may even exaserbate their disfavor by becoming corrupted in today's environment.
Your ultimate goal is to fix your relationship wiith the gods and move on. You don't want to be comfortable here, and the changes in Western society in the last 100 years has achieved just that.
1000 years with Jesus is the consolation prize. Don't be deceived into thinking that is the goal.

The Prince of Darkness, battling the gods over the souls of the Damned.
It is the gods who have created this environment and led people into Damnation with temptation. The god's positioning proves they work to prevent people's understanding.
How often is xtian dogma wrong? Expect it is about the Lucifer issue as well.
The fallen god, fighting for justice for the disfavored, banished to Earth as the fallen angel?
I believe much as the Noah's Flood event, the end of the world will be initiated by revelry among the people. It will be positioned to be sanctioned by the gods and led for "1000 years with Jesus on Earth".
In light of modern developments this can entail many pleasures:::Medicine "cures" aging, the "manufacture" of incredible beauty via cloning as sex slaves, free (synthetic) cocaine, etc.
Somewhere during the 1000 years the party will start to "die off", literally. Only those who maintain chaste, pure lifestyles will survive the 1000 years. They will be the candidates used to (re)colonize (the next) Planet Earth, condemned to relive the misery experienced by the peasantry during Planet Earth's history due to their failure to ascend into heaven before the Apocalypse.
If this concept of Lucifer is true another role of this individual may be to initiate disfavor and temptation among this new poulation, the proverbial "apple" of this Garden of Eden. A crucial element in the history of any planet, he begins the process of deterioration and decay that leads civilizations to where Planet Earth remains today.

I will never be a religious person. Not in this life nor any future life.
I am a cowboy, which was half the equation behing the movie Brokeback Mountain.