“samurai ghouls led by a green-skinned tyrant in a groovy skull castle” and more
January 30, 2012
Continuing last week’s theme of jungle native, I watched a few movies this weekend:
Picked up a DVD for $3 at a local used book store…a double-feature of The Land That Time Forgot (1975) and its sequel The People That Time Forgot (1977), both directed by Kevin Connor and based on stories by E. R. Burroughs. Filmed in the Canary Islands, the jungle footage is average and the natives and dinosaurs are silly. But it’s all good fun.
The natives in Land have an interesting three-tier hierarchy of tribes based on their evolution. Except they think of it more as a metamorphosis rather than evolution…i.e. individuals are born to the lower tribes and transform to join the higher tribes.
People is a borderline candidate for inclusion as a precursor on the Big List of 1980’s Fantasy Movies. Most of the “natives” in this one are samurai ghouls led by a green-skinned tyrant in a groovy skull castle with a Frazetta “Death Dealer” tapestry! Don’t believe me?…check out a fine review of People with many screenshots at Teleport City, here.
Banaue: Stairway to the Sky (1975), directed by Gerardo De Leon. Got this in Manila last summer and was excited to watch it because it stars Nora Aunor and Christopher De Leon and I thought it would be about the Banaue rice terraces. It shows a few shots of the terraces at the beginning and end, but the movie isn’t about the terraces at all. It’s apparently about the ancient tribes of natives that moved into the area and the conflicts between them, leading to gruesome-ness such as beheadings and roastings.
Unfortunately, Banaue was hard to watch because the source film is very poor quality. It has a thick tinting around the edges that severely restricts the viewing area. I’m not sure if the tinting was a result of film deterioration, or if it was deliberate, to give it a dreamy “long long time ago” quality. Very strange.
(For a more watchable movie filmed at and around the Banaue rice terraces, see Batad (2006))
Also, Banaue is in Tagalog, without English subtitles, so I couldn’t really follow the story at all. On the other hand, there are other Tagalog films that are easier to follow, I think due to their more modern contexts. Such as these two…
Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (“Three Years Without God”) (1976), directed by Mario O’Hara, and also starring Aunor and De Leon. It makes sense that the two greatest movies about the Philippines during WW2 are Filipino productions. This and Oro, Plata, Mata. It’s disappointing that Hollywood has all but ignored the subject during the past 50 years.
Medal of Valor: Lt. Jack Moreno (1991), directed by Garcia and Nuqui. Apparently based on a true story, this is about a Filipino army officer’s exploits of bravery while hunting down and defending against communist rebels in the jungles of the Philippines. If I hadn’t known what it was about before I watched it, I would have thought it was a Vietnam War action movie. Excellent jungle.