• Silip: Daughters Of Eve (Mondo Macabro) Blu-ray Review

    Silip: Daughters Of Eve (Mondo Macabro) Blu-ray Review
    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: August 10th, 2021.
    Director: Elwood Perez
    Cast: Maria Isabel Lopez, Sarsi Emmanuelle, Myra Manibog, Mark Joseph
    Year: 1985
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    Silip: Daughters Of Eve – Movie Review:

    Elwood Perez’s 1985 picture, Silip: Daughters Of Eve, begins with a group of children watching a man named Simon (Mark Joseph) slaughtering a buffalo. One boy pleads with Simon to spare the animal but Simon points out that if people in the village want to eat, he’ll have to kill the animal. From there we meet Tonya (Maria Isabel Lopez), a young woman filling in for the local priest at the small village’s school. The sexual couplings going on around her abhor Tonya and she sees her fellow villagers as sinners. She teaches the children that sex is evil and even goes so far as to tell some of the female students that what hangs between a man’s legs is the devil’s horn! Despite her attempts at living a pure life, she still has thoughts about Simon from time to time though at this point has yet to act on them.

    When Selda (Sarsi Emmanuelle) and her white boyfriend come to visit the village where Selda grew up, things get complicated. Selda and her man make love one night while Tonya watches and then later Selda seduces Simon after the two of them tie up his lover, the town widow, Mona (Myra Manibog). Tonya brings Selda’s boyfriend to the hut where they’re getting it on and he and Simon get into a fight which results in the boyfriend’s decision to leave town. All the while, there’s an unspoken mutual lust between Tonya and Simon. As all of this is going on, Tonya’s teachings are getting more and more bizarre. When a young student tells her she’s had impure thoughts Tonya reacts by throwing hot sand between her legs.

    Eventually it all comes to a head as the villagers decide that Tonya is no longer fit to teach the children. In fact many of them believe she’s gone crazy. As Tonya and Selda try to sort out their differences and get over their past together, it all hits the fan and the villagers soon turn into an angry mob.

    On the surface Silip might seem like little more than a strange softcore film but there’s really a very interesting and intelligent story underneath all the bumping and grinding going on. While the film definitely has its fair share of full frontal nudity (with a few scenes that come dangerously close to hardcore) the story revolves as much around Tonya’s struggles with her faith versus her natural instincts as a woman than anything else. She’s obviously very repressed not only in her feelings for Simon but also in her ability to deal with Selda. Of course with Tonya employed as the town teacher there’s a trickledown effect and her bizarre and adamant stance on the evils of sexuality start to effect the children. Obviously the parents want their children to get an education from a trustworthy and moralistic teacher but Tonya takes things to such a ridiculous extreme that even the most devout Catholic would have to take issue with her stance.

    It makes for interesting viewing, as Perez gives us enough sex, violence, sleaze (and unfortunately all too real animal violence) to keep things unpredictable but also delivers a genuinely interesting story and some rather impressive compositions (one shot one of Simon’s buffalo looking on at a couple as the make love!). The cinematography is very effective in how it pulls you into the dusty village; everything feels hot and a little bit gritty. As far as the content of the film goes, the back of the packaging comes with a warning and for good reason – there’s some strong stuff in here. Full frontal erect male nudity, naked children, slaughtered animals, rape, bloody violence and decapitation, murder and bizarre religious imagery. Most of the more exploitative content bookends the film and as such the middle part feels a little long (the picture is over two hours in length) but the payoff is completely worth it. Silip is a completely unique film that toys with genre expectations by delivering thought provoking sleaze, rock solid performances and impressive camerawork.

    Silip: Daughters Of Eve – Blu-ray Review:

    Silip: Daughters Of Eve comes to region free Blu-ray restored from the original 35mm negative on a 50GB disc with the feature given 36.5GBs of space. The AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer is framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and it provides a very nice upgrade from the 2007 DVD release. Detail is pretty strong here and while there are some moments where damage is noticeable, overall the picture is pretty clean while still retaining the natural film grain you’d want it to. Colors look really nice here, black levels are solid and skin tones, frequently on display, appear nice and natural.

    Audio options are offered in 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 tracks in English and Tagalog with optional subtitles provided in English only. The Tagalog version plays much better than the English one does and it contains a much more interesting soundtrack. That said, quality is fine with both tracks providing properly balanced audio and levels. Some minor sibilance can be heard here and there but otherwise, no problems.

    New to this Blu-ray release is an audio commentary track by Andrew Leavold, the man behind book and documentary The Search For Weng Weng and the person responsible for compiling the archival extra features included on this release. Leavold knows his stuff, and as the track progresses he talks about how he came to know the movie, the 'Bomba' films period of the early seventies where sex films were legal in The Philippines, the state of the country at the time that these 'bold' movies were made, some of the themes and ideas that the picture explores, details on the different cast and crew members that worked on the film, how the film was expected to screen at the Manilla Film Center only to find that the place had been boarded up before it could debut, how the film was received at home and abroad, the depiction of sex in the movie, the film's distribution history, details on the dubbing used for the English version, details on the director's life and career and quite a bit more.

    Featurettes begin with an archival interview from the old DVD release with the film's director, Elwood Perez, that runs just under nineteen minutes. The director talks about how he simply wanted to tell stories that moved him rather than pander to the audience, and how 'bold' cinema came to be and why it was given that name. Elwood, who is quite jovial and very honest about his work and his career, talks about some of his other pictures as well as about making Silip and he proves to be a very interesting interview subject. He discusses working with Ricardo Lee, and about the actresses in the picture as well as the politics behind the picture and how his philosophy has changed since the film was made.

    Memoirs Of A Survivor is a new interview with actress Sarsi Emmanuelle that runs a substantial forty-six minutes that was recorded for this Blu-ray release. This covers how she came to take the name Sarsi Emmanuelle after appearing in the film Brown Emmanuelle in 1982, how she fought against typecasting after this appearance, how she got into the film industry, what her family life was like, her childhood and her upbringing, not finishing school when she decided to get into acting, the different directors that she worked with over the years, learning firsthand how difficult the business could be when they had nowhere to sleep (she spent an unusual amount of time in caves!), what it was like being on various locations, having to eat frogs, doing nudity in movies, her thoughts on other Filipino exploitation pictures and some of her co-stars from the golden age of this boom, and, of course, her work on Silip and what it was like appearing in that picture.

    The next interview, also carried over from the DVD release, turns the camera on the film's star, Maria Isabel Lopez, that runs fourteen minutes. Maria talks about dealing with nudity in Filipino cinema and how when the eighties came around that all changed. She still looks fantastic in this recent interview and she covers her background as a model and how she came to be an actress and how she won the Miss Philippines Pageant. She talks about some of the people she's worked with and then talks about her relationship with Sarsi Emmanuelle, calling her a rival and a best friend. She also covers having to deal with the harsh conditions of the location where the film was shot, and how the actors and actresses strove to make their performances seem reel.

    The disc also includes an eight minute interview art director Alfredo Santos. Santos talks about how he started in cinema as an apprentice art director in 1981 and how he moved up the ladder and eventually got a break on Silip which he says was actually shot in 1983 (it was released in the Philippines in 1985). From there he talks about the experimental cinema of the country and then he covers his work on Silip and how they went for a fairly minimal look on the picture.

    The Mondo Macabro promo reel, menus and chapter selection options finish off the extra features on this release.

    Silip: Daughters Of Eve - The Final Word:

    A genuinely unsettling look at the juxtaposition of sex and religion by way of an artsy exploitation film, Silip is an interesting and very well made film. Mondo Macabro’s Blu-ray release treats the film with the kind of respect rarely afforded to quirky foreign imports such as this, and it’s a testament to the company’s dedication to preserving and expanding the audience for some of the most interesting movies from around the world. It also offers a very nice upgrade over the out of print DVD edition, and comes highly recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Silip: Daughters Of Eve Blu-ray screen caps!