Tag Archives: 80s

MIFF 2014 – The Search for Weng Weng (2014)

Director: Andrew Leavold
Producers: Daniel Palisa, Andrew Leavold

It says seven years in the making but I know Andrew has been working on it for much longer than that. I remember going to a screening of a double bill of For Yur Height Only and the Impossible Kid (live dub as it was only in French) and I was one of the only people there.

There’s also the whole saga of what happened with Machete Maidens in 2008, but that is for another time.

Weng Weng (Ernesto De La Cruz) appeared in 14 movies and only seven are known to exist at this time. Andrew has six of them and has seen seven. There was a musical that Weng Weng appeared in but they could not get the rights to use it in the documentary, but hopefully they will get to screen it at MIFF in the future.

Andrew has been to the Philippines many times in making the documentary and Daniel Palisa now lives there.

The narrative of the documentary is a detective story where Andrew starts off not even knowing Weng Weng’s real name and through leg work and in some cases good fortune ends up meeting many of the people who worked with Weng Weng including the man who edited all his movies. They could not get to interview the film’s director as one had died and the other is no longer talking to them. You can’t say they did not try, but it reflects badly on that person as the other people interviewed do not have anything good to say about her as Weng Weng was exploited and was still living in the same shack when he died that he was before he even starred in movies.

The sequences with Imdela Marcos were very strange and got a strong reaction in the Phillipines. She seems to be somewhere off in her own world and has no self awareness of how much people hate her. Ferdinand Marcos is still lying in state waiting for a state funeral, it shows an unusual amount of restraint people didn’t just throw him on the garbage dump and set him on fire.

I did like hearing from all the old stuntmen and film makers from around that era as they all have fond memories of working with Weng Weng and are sad that he was treated badly. Werner Herzog even got a mention as one person being interviewed said they showed “Even Dwarves Started Small” to the director of the Weng Weng movies.

While one interviewee said that the Philippines was “cut off” from Asia, I believe the traditional spiritual and cultural beliefs combined with the Roman Catholic religion from Spanish settlement and the USA’s involvement from World War II onwards is what makes the Philippines unique as many of the things in the documentary would not have developed otherwise.

Santo Niño was mentioned in the film and Weng Weng was dressed as him during religious celebrations. During a screening of the documentary right outside Weng Weng’s house one of his neighbours said that Weng Weng cured him as he believed he was the reincarnation of Santo Niño.

The version shown at MIFF was the “festival” cut and there are still special features being completed. The final version will be screened as the Monster Festival in November and will be a three disc set including a soundtrack.

I did like the footage from James Batman and talked to Daniel Palisa after the screening who said they have subtitled the film and hope to screen it. It is still under copyright so they cannot release it. There were a lot of superhero knock offs in Philippines.

Umbrella Entertainment – Australian DVD Run Part 1

Without meaning to I have done a bulk DVD purchase several times directly before MIFF when I will be watching lots of movies in short time. At least I have something to watch afterwards when I finish watching Skippy. Umbrella Entertainment has a special on at the moment so some of these were $5.

OZ-PLOITATION BOXSET VOL 3: Australia After Dark/The ABC of Love and Sex, Felicity, Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, Mad Dog Morgan, Patrick, Les Patterson Saves the World
Squizzy Taylor
Kitty and the Bagman
The Last of the Knucklemen
Caddie
Death in Brunswick
The Lighthorsemen

I had been meaning to buy some more Australian movies for a while as I have seen a few of these and want to watch them again. Also I wanted to write some more reviews for Australian movies as my focus has been overseas for a long time.

I will see how I go after this batch as I am trying not to binge on DVD purchases too much as I want to save money while I am working for the leans times ahead due to the State Election and not being able to do get website work over the Christmas/New Year Period.

I have a large list of stuff I would like to buy, but the priority will be the 60’s Batman TV box set in November and the 30 movie Universal Movie Monsters Box set in September.

There is a writing project I want to work on involving the new Mad Max movie for another website and I will try to do some more work on that also.

Trailers:

Australia After Dark

The ABC of Love and Sex

Felicity

Barry McKenzie Holds His Own

Mad Dog Morgan

Patrick

Les Patterson Saves the World

Squizzy Taylor

Kitty and the Bagman

The Last of the Knucklemen

Caddie

Death in Brunswick

The Lighthorsemen

Oldies.com DVDs #1

I finally got around to watching Legend of the Superheroes after buying a few of the Warner Archive Collection/MGM Classics/Sony Screen Classics DVDs last year. I know some of them are now available only, but I cannot watch them there due to region restrictions. Also I noticed a lot of these DVDs have “not for sale or rent outside of the US” on them. Has not stopped some local DVD stores selling them at double the price though.

Urgh! A Music War

Has a large line up of bands playing from a concert recorded in 1980. Fans of the bands should know that while the popular bands of the time do play, they don’t actually play their most popular song. I did like the large amount of bands involved and some of the more interesting bands like the Surf Punks

They reminded me of Melbourne band the Twits are fair bit for some reason.

Legends of the Superheroes

I had heard a lot about this from various sites pouring scorn on it in the past few years. As a fan of the Superfriends cartoon series I was interested in it and not just to make fun of it. I turned out to be a lot better than I thought from the short clips I have seen. Having Adam West, Burt Ward, Frank Gorshin, Ruth Buzzi and a lot of other talented actors and comedians in it helped a lot. Even though the show was never picked up from the two pilot episodes, it does look like the people involved were having a good time and laughing for real at some of the jokes during the filming.

I found this great site with someone who went to the trouble of tracking down the original actors from the show and interviewing them
http://noblemania.blogspot.com.au/search/label/Legends%20of%20the%20Superheroes

The Bed Sitting Room

Another one I had been meaning to see for quite a while after reading about it in Spike Milligan’s autobiography. It was originally a play and Spike also moved his parents out to Australia as he was so afraid of nuclear war. I was quite pleased with this one due to the cast and that it was very weird with no explanation as to why the strange things were happening other than “radiation”, it is also a lot more up in tone than most post-nuclear war movies.

Sid and Marty Krofft’s Greatest Saturday Morning Hits

After posting the following trailer to my friend’s wall, I got the message back “You are the ruler Tim! This is boss!”

I had to buy the show then, I did try and find the complete set via a VHS to DVD rip, but the seller turned out to be dodgy – what a surprise! so I settled for this one. There were other boxed sets, but they were either out of print or too expensive.

The rest of the episodes from each of the shows were interesting and even the widely derided “Bigfoot & Wild Boy” was not as bad as people make out. I would recommend this DVD for people who want a taster of some of the shows before they go looking for them online. I learned the lesson with the Banana Splits DVD boxed set as even the creators of the show got sick of it after a while, they had a buggy race that went for six episodes, should have gotten compilation DVD of the Danger Island episodes.

Americathon

I had not heard of this one before I saw it on the Warner Archive Collection list on the oldies.com website, looked interesting at least. I ended up being a bit disappointed in it as it does have a good cast including George Carlin doing the narration, but they never seem to make enough of it including the jokes that fall a bit flat.

Luckily it still has an Beach Boys song they wrote for the movie.

And not forgetting Meatloaf vs. a car

Legend of Billie Jean

Q&A from the Cinefamily screening

I forgot where I first heard of this, but was intrigued by the trailer and the news it was having a rare public screening as it hadn’t really been seen since it was released in the 1980s. Also there were rights issues regarding the soundtrack that needed to be resolved.

This is the best DVD of the bunch as far as I am concerned. Sure it may be a bit over the top at times, it is very earnest and the soundtrack suits it perfectly. Also for fans of the Simpsons it is the chance to see an early role outside of Herman’s Head for the voice of Lisa Simpson, Yeardley Smith.

Pat Benetar – Invincible/Legend of Billie Jean music video

Product links:
Urgh! A Music War
http://www.oldies.com/product-view/6868FD/c_TE02.html

Legends of the Superheroes
http://www.oldies.com/product-view/9343FD/c_TE02.html

The Bed Sitting Room
http://www.oldies.com/product-view/1954ED/c_TE02.html

Sid and Marty Krofft’s Greatest Saturday Morning Hits
http://www.oldies.com/product-view/21994O/c_TE02.html

Americathon
http://www.oldies.com/product-view/9374FD/c_TE02.html

Legend of Billie Jean
http://www.oldies.com/product-view/1711ED/c_TE02.html