KILLING OF SATAN
From the Philippines
comes THE KILLING OF SATAN, a truly insane horror/action/fantasy hybrid. To get
an idea of this movie's charms, imagine an Indiana Jones flick a). with
no budget, b). containing obscure religious overtones, and c). on
acid. It's an introduction to a world almost completely foreign to Americans
audiences, that of pre-Christian Filipino magic. It's
also deliriously weird, slam-bang entertainment--and yes, Satan does in
THE KILLING OF SATAN was given a surprise (though
short-lived) US release in 1985 by Paragon video. Although packaged like any
generic horror exploiter (complete with lurid cover art and the tagline "What
power should a man possess to challenge the prince of darkness?"), watching this
Filipino feature can be a rough ride for American viewers. The dubbing is
horrid, the pacing is often sluggish, the special effects are strictly of the
dime-store variety and the whole thing is so strange as to sometimes seem like
an exercise in surrealism.
A brief history lesson: long
ago, the Philippines were home to immigrant tribes from the Maylay islands.
These folks had their own religious practices, which were mostly abandoned after
the arrival of the Spaniards. Nevertheless, these strange rituals have not been
completely forgotten--for proof, check out THE KILLING OF SATAN (and read Pete
Tombs' article on the subject in Asian Cult Cinema #14).
Miguel, a magician, is battling the evil Prince of
Magic for control of his island home. After Miguel is struck down by his
all-powerful nemesis he enlists his nephew Lando, an ex-con, to carry on the
struggle. Although understandably hesitant at first, Lando becomes fired up
after his sister is kidnapped by the POM. He imprisons her in a cage with
several naked women, all pawns in his plan to take over the world. It seems
that the POM is acting on the whims of his master, Satan (whom we recognize
immediately, since he has horns and carries a pitchfork!).
Lando, inheriting his uncle's
magical powers, confronts the POM in his underground dungeon. A number of
bizarre fight scenes follow, in the course of which Lando is spun around like a
top, the POM multiplies himself by six, scantily-clad women metamorphose into
lethal snakes, corpses are re-animated, bodies are crushed, chests explode and
people shoot multicolored circles out of their hands. Lando eventually kills
the POM, frees the caged women and goes head-to-head with the big S., goading
the horned one from his hiding place--a dead tree growing out of red soil--by
calling him "yellow." Satan unwisely takes Lando on and, as the title promises,
does not live to regret it!
Part of what gives THE KILLING Of SATAN its
singular flavor is director Efren C. Pinon's willingness to try just about
anything, regardless of whether his budget will permit it. The special effects
are as primitive as any since the silent film era, often drawn directly onto the
film. But in this case, such bargain basement work only intensifies the movie's
already unique feel.
A highly prolific director in
his native land, Pinon's helming is unapolagetically crude and obviously shot on
the cheap-but then, so is everything else about this flick. For those willing
to make the leap, it delivers.
THE KILLING OF SATAN
Director: Efren C. Pinon
Producer: Pio C. Lee
Screenwriter: Jose Mari Avellana
Cinematography: Richard Herrera
Editor: Boy Vinarao
Cast: Ramon Ravilla, Elizabeth Oropesa, George Estregan, Paquito Diaz, Cecille
Castillo, Erlyn Umali, Charlie Davao