Thursday, May 01, 2008

Filipino Fun, Fantasy and Fakery!

Due to the Internet, one day soon I'm sure information on all of the cinematic obscurities of the world will be available to us, but at the moment it's still wonderful to uncover a country's hidden pop culture hitherto unnoticed by the rest of the planet.

Take Video48, a mind-shattering trip into the uncharted realms of Filipino cinema, featuring a menagerie of stills, posters and articles from films I never even dared to dream existed! I stumbled across home-grown super-heroes such as Mars Revelo's Darna a few years back, and Eric Cueto's fansite provided a wealth of information on her cinematic adventures, (whilst also revealing tantalising glimpses of her on-screen contemporaries), but I certainly hadn't realised the extent to which comic book characters pervaded the Philippine big-screen.

Chances are the country was second only to Turkey when it came to cinematic Super-heroes - Darna herself has starred in 14 films and two TV series, which certainly puts Wonder Woman to shame.

Here's the most popular Darna of them all, screen legend Vilma Santos, discussing the role:

Sadly most of these fantasy films are unlikely to have survived - the condition of the Vilma Santos' early Darna movies is supposedly so wretched that a DVD release has been permanently canned, and ancient VHS copies of Darna & the Giants and Darna & the Planet Women are jealously guarded by the few collectors who salvaged them from rental shops.

Just as in Turkey, these films were probably considered to be as disposable as the comic books on which they were based - but I for one would go ga-ga for a double bill of this years The Dark Knight with 1973's Fight Batman Fight (fair enough, my brain might melt out of my ears afterwards, but what a way to go...)


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