From the Philippines comes THE KILLING OF SATAN, a truly insane horror/action/fantasy hybrid. To get an idea of this movie’s charms, imagine an Indiana Jones flick a). with no budget, b). containing obscure religious overtones, and c). on acid. It’s an introduction to a world almost completely foreign to Americans audiences, that of pre-Christian Filipino magic. It’s also deliriously weird, slam-bang entertainment—and yes, Satan does in fact die!
THE KILLING OF SATAN was given a surprise (though short-lived) US release in 1985 by Paragon video. Although packaged like any generic horror exploiter (complete with lurid cover art and the tagline “What power should a man possess to challenge the prince of darkness?”), watching this Filipino feature can be a rough ride for American viewers. The dubbing is horrid, the pacing is often sluggish, the special effects are strictly of the dime-store variety and the whole thing is so strange as to sometimes seem like an exercise in surrealism.
A brief history lesson: long ago, the Philippines were home to immigrant tribes from the Maylay islands. These folks had their own religious practices, which were mostly abandoned after the arrival of the Spaniards. Nevertheless, these strange rituals have not been completely forgotten—for proof, check out THE KILLING OF SATAN (and read Pete Tombs’ article on the subject in Asian Cult Cinema #14).
Miguel, a magician, is battling the evil Prince of Magic for control of his island home. After Miguel is struck down by his all-powerful nemesis he enlists his nephew Lando, an ex-con, to carry on the struggle. Although understandably hesitant at first, Lando becomes fired up after his sister is kidnapped by the POM. He imprisons her in a cage with several naked women, all pawns in his plan to take over the world. It seems that the POM is acting on the whims of his master, Satan (whom we recognize immediately, since he has horns and carries a pitchfork!).
Lando, inheriting his uncle’s magical powers, confronts the POM in his underground dungeon. A number of bizarre fight scenes follow, in the course of which Lando is spun around like a top, the POM multiplies himself by six, scantily-clad women metamorphose into lethal snakes, corpses are re-animated, bodies are crushed, chests explode and people shoot multicolored circles out of their hands. Lando eventually kills the POM, frees the caged women and goes head-to-head with the big S., goading the horned one from his hiding place—a dead tree growing out of red soil—by calling him “yellow.” Satan unwisely takes Lando on and, as the title promises, does not live to regret it!
Part of what gives THE KILLING Of SATAN its singular flavor is director Efren C. Pinon’s willingness to try just about anything, regardless of whether his budget will permit it. The special effects are as primitive as any since the silent film era, often drawn directly onto the film. But in this case, such bargain basement work only intensifies the movie’s already unique feel.
A highly prolific director in his native land, Pinon’s helming is unapolagetically crude and obviously shot on the cheap-but then, so is everything else about this flick. For those willing to make the leap, it delivers.
THE KILLING OF SATAN
Director: Efren C. Pinon
Producer: Pio C. Lee
Screenwriter: Jose Mari Avellana
Cinematography: Richard Herrera
Editor: Boy Vinarao
Cast: Ramon Ravilla, Elizabeth Oropesa, George Estregan, Paquito Diaz, Cecille Castillo, Erlyn Umali, Charlie Davao