Color, 1986, 125 mins. 47 secs.
Directed by Elwood Perez
Starring Maria Isabel Lopez, Sarsi Emmanuelle, Mark Joseph, Myra Manibog
Mondo Macabro (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)

Whoa! Just when you thought you'd seen it all, along comes the Philippines-created Silip (shown far too rarely overseas as Daughters of Eve), one of the strangest, sweatiest, sleaziest films you'll ever see. No, seriously; though the packaging likens this to Japanese pink films, a closer description might be an acid-fueled Alejandro Jodorowsky teen angst drama with lots of graphic sex and violence. Former Miss Philippines Maria Isabel Lopez was making a name for herself in the '80s thanks to an well-timed erotic acting career during the country's relaxing censorship under the control of Imelda Marcos, who used proceeds from the more expensive "hot" screenings to fund the country's cultural programs. As a result, filmmakers suddenly realized they could churn out whatever extreme visions their hearts desired, resulting in more widely screened films like Snake Sisters and Scorpio Nights. But folks, you've never come across anything like this.

In a primitive and conservative salt-making community called Ilongo, a bunch of kids are so distraught over the butchering of their beloved buffalo by town stud Simon (Joseph) that a young girl is induced into her first period. Simon spends his spare time sleeping with Maria (Manibog), but he's also lusted after by hot-to-trot Seldda (Emmanuelle), who's just come home from the city with an uncouth American boyfriend in tow. Meanwhile her more devout sister, Tonya (Lopez), teaches church lessons to the kids and eases her raging libido but rubbing salt in her crotch. Pretty soon everyone's lusts are running way out of control, resulting in violent and protracted deaths, incest, and some horrific, misguided village justice.

Though it's over two hours long, Silip is certainly never boring and can't really be classified as a straight-up sex film. It's far too surreal and unpredictable for that, which should be obvious from the opening ten minutes which should have any PETA members howling at the screen. (Try eating a burger while you're watching it.) There's only one major gore set piece in the film, but it's a real doozy and kicks off the gripping final act of the film which really puts the two female leads through their paces. (Apparently they weren't exactly faking their panic during the fiery climax, either!) The haunting music score, fetid village atmosphere, and striking photography involving the nearby beachscapes and desert result in a wholly unique and fascinating spectacle impossible to describe.

Languishing in obscurity outside its native country for decades, Silip has long suffered from a woeful English dub track which replaces all of the music with bland library tracks. Though that unsatisfying track was present on Mondo Macabro's 2007 DVD as well, all viewers should instead opt for the original Tagalong audio track with English subtitles, which results in a completely different experience. The anamorphic transfer from the original negative looks terrific; a disclaimer at the beginning warns of some unavoidable damage, but apart from a dupey-looking title card, it's quite clean and clear. Even better, this is a two-disc set which provides some essential context for this film. A Pete Tombs essay covers the basics of Filipino erotica from the early "wet" days of starlets in clingy, soggy set-through dresses to the days of the "soda" girls (all named after soft drinks, though Mountain Dew doesn't seem to have been taken), to this particular film's presence in the "bold" '80s era, which was sometimes referred to as "pene" to suggest actual hardcore in the films. Silip doesn't quite get there, but one scene does come very, very close. Other background info provides lots of surprising biographical details about the director and the major leads, all of whom led very eventful lives, to say the least. Director Elwood Perez appears on-camera for an 18m46s interview (shot in what appears to be a mall food court) in which he discusses his film career and his directorial intentions, covering the details of what directors were allowed to do at the time and how they had to satisfy the foreign market. He's jovial enough and seems to know his stuff, but the real fun can be found in the companion featurette (14m4s) which finds the still-stunning Lopez talking about the origins of her acting career, her conflicting distrust and respect for her director, the near-death shooting experiences, the sense of respect her family and children still show for her thanks to her career, and her international roles in films like Black Cobra 3 and Dune Warriors. Finally art director Alfredo Santos appears for a third featurette (8m2s) in which he chats about the culture of '80s filmmaking and government involvement, the atmosphere they were going for with the entire creative team, the professional frustrations he encountered just after this era ended, and plenty more, all while a guy busily paints right behind him in what appears to be a video shop.

In 2021, Mondo Macabro revisited the film for a single-disc Blu-ray release featuring a new scan from the camera negative with a considerable amount of restoration work repairing the damage present on the older transfer. Detail increases significantly throughout of course, given the major increase in resolution, and the color timing is more consistent across the board including one nocturnal scene that has a more natural blue look compared to the extreme, glowing appearance before. (See comparisons below.) It's still a gritty-looking film of course when you get down to it, and that's been retained here quite well. The usual two language options (Tagalong and English) are here in DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono tracks with optional English subtitles, both sounding as good as the very thin and limited original sources will allow. All three video featurettes from the DVD have been ported over, though in place of the Tombs essay you now get an audio commentary by Weng Weng expert and filmmaker Andrew Leavold, who obviously knows his stuff very thoroughly and makes for an excellent guide through this film, the larger cinematic scene at large during the time, the history of Filipino sex cinema, his interviews with the creative team of the film, the dubbing process, and lots, lots more. Also new is "Memoirs of a Survivor" (46m5s), a long retrospective interview with Emmanuelle about her career transitioning from sexy films to higher caliber work before her self-imposed retirement in 1988. It's quite a saga, starting with her first move into showbiz courtesy of her mom's optometrist and going through a lot of ups and down along the way including her indelible role in Snake Sisters, boozy directors, a tragic suicide, arduous shoots in the wild, near-death traumas, and real and fabricated actress rivalries. You won't believe it!

Mondo Macabro (Blu-ray)

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Mondo Macabro (Blu-ray)

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Updated review on August 20, 2021