the killing of satan (efren c. piñon, 1983)
Saturday, January 21, 2023
This is the sixteenth film I have watched in "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2022-23", "A 33 week long challenge where the goal each week is to watch a previously unseen feature length film from a specified category." This is the 8th annual challenge, and my fourth time participating (my first year can be found at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2019-20", the second year at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2020-21", and last year at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2021-22"). Week 16 is called "Southeastern Asia Week":
This week's challenge is to watch a previously unseen film from a Southeastern Asian country. This list should help.
There are some good movies on that list. I can't use things I've already seen, but The Raid is terrific, and I've liked every film I've seen by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who god bless him has said it's OK to call him "Joe". Back in September when the Challenge came out, I picked a Thai film that was on the Criterion Channel for this week. Four months later, I go to watch the movie and find it's no longer available. So I had to quickly hunt down something else that I could stream. Which is how I found myself watching the Filipino horror fantasy, The Killing of Satan.
Oh my, it was bad. Scott Drebit described it perfectly when he called it, "epic in scope and minuscule in execution". Epic? It's about the battle of good and evil, with the actual Satan competing for the bad side. Minuscule? At times, I was reminded of Robot Monster, where the entire movie seemed to take place in the same section of Bronson Canyon. The characters in The Killing of Satan would go into caves, spend time underground (apparently next door to Hell), escape, and somehow, they always ended up in the same place.
The movie is full of action. But it's bad action. The fight scenes are a blend of boxing-style fisticuffs and cheap FX. This is not a martial arts movie, it's a movie where people with supernatural powers try to beat the crap out of each other while dodging some of those cheap special effects. There is no imagination in these scenes. It almost made me pine for the oddball hopping vampires of HK films. There's a plot, but everything is so ragged it's as if Jean-Luc Godard popped by long enough to tell everyone to ignore continuity.
As is often the case with movies this bad, it's the accompanying trivia that interests us, and here we are blessed with the star of the film, Ramon Revilla. In 1992, almost a decade after he made The Killing of Satan, Revilla became a Senator in the Philippines, where he served two terms. Wikipedia tells us that one of his bills in the Senate states "The illegitimate children may use the surname of their father if their affiliation has been expressly recognized by the father through the record of birth appearing in the civil register, or when an admission in a public document or private handwritten instrument is made by the father." In a perhaps unrelated note, depending on the source, Revilla fathered somewhere between 38 and 72 children.
And I watched all of this because the Criterion Channel took one of their movies off of streaming. What's worse, the only place I could find that was streaming this junk was Tubi, which meant there were two minutes of ads every 15 or so minutes, the print was shitty, the aspect ratio was wrong (at least, that's my assumption), and the dubbing wasn't any good.
Spoiler alert: this is the scene that fulfills the title. See if you can guess which one is Satan: