Two From Cirio H. Santiago: Silk and Silk 2

When is an Andy Sidaris film not an Andy Sidaris film?

When it’s directed by Cirio H. Santiago, of course!

Santiago, the Roger Corman of the Phillippines, is credited with directing 100 films over the course of his 60-year career and the 1986 film Silk is definitely one of them! And the sequel, 1989’s Silk 2, is definitely another one. That may sound like faint phrase and I guess it is. Let’s just face it — not everyone is going to be a Cirio H. Santiago fan. Some people are going to want movies that make sense and maintain some sort of continuity from scene to scene. To those people, I will say that Silk and Silk 2 are probably not for you. However, if you just enjoy watching people fire guns and blow things up, the Silk films might be for you.

In the first film, Cec Verrell plays Jenny Sleighton, also known as Silk. Silk is the toughest cop in what we’re told is Honolulu but which is obviously Manila in real life. Early on Jenny informs us that she’s known as Silk because, “I’m so fucking smooth.” Silk may be smooth but she’s also deadly. The film establishes early on that Silk will basically shoot anyone. Normally, that might be a problem but, fortunately, Silk only seems to meet criminals. Over the course of the film, Silk investigates a smuggling operation. She starts out busting heroin dealers and then eventually comes across an identity theft ring …. at least, I think that’s what happens. Trying to follow the plot isn’t always easy but then again, why would you want to follow the plot of a film like Silk? The plot’s not the point. The action is the point and Cec Verrell is such a convincing action star that I’m surprised that she didn’t have a bigger career. Seriously, Cec Verell kicks ass!

Unfortuantely, Cec Verell did not return for Silk 2. In Silk 2, Monique Gabrielle steps into the lead role. Technically, Gabrielle is better at convincingly delivering her dialogue that Verell was but Gabrielle is never believable as an action star. As opposed to the first Silk, which emphasized action, Silk 2 emphasizes nudity and it even features a strangely blurred sex scene. (It’s like soft focus times twenty.) The plot of Silk 2, however, is a bit more fun than the plot of the first film, as it deals with the search for some ancient scrolls and it features Silk’s partner continually getting captured and tortured by the bad guys. After a while, you start to wonder if maybe Silk should stop rescuing him every time that he kidnaps because, seriously, the guy needs to learn to make more of an effort not to kidnapped every time he leaves his house. Eventually, Silk teams up with an ancient scroll expert, who looks like a reject from the brat pack. He and Silk fall for each other, of course. As with the first film, it’s not always easy to follow what’s going on but it’s a short movie and it’s quickly paced, making it ideal for when you want to watch a movie but you don’t necessarily want to have to pay too much attention to it.

Technically, neither Silk nor Silk 2 are that good but they’re both entertaining when taken on their own admittedly special terms. For all of his flaws as a filmmaker, it’s hard not to appreciate the fact that Cirio H. Santiago, like Andy Sidaris and Roger Corman, never let a lack of budget or ability stand in his way. Between 1955 and 2014, Cirio H, Santiago directed 100 films and every single one of them is uniquely his. There’s something to be said for that.

Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #26: The Muthers (dir by Cirio H. Santiago)

(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by the end of Tuesday, December 6th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)


On November 13th, TCM Underground aired the 1976 Filipino women-in-prison film, The Muthers!  And I recorded it!

Before I say anything about the film itself, I want to acknowledge how much I love the poster above.  I mean, that poster promises a film full of actions, thrills, and a healthy dose of girl power.  You look at that poster and you think to yourself, “The Muthers must be one the greatest drive-in films ever made!”

You might also think that from reading about the film’s plot.  The Muthers opens with Kelly (Jeannie Bell) and Anggie (Rosanne Keaton) sailing the high seas. It turns out that they’re pirates!  They forcibly board yachts and rob decadent rich people.  They’re good at their job and they have fun, too!  Even better, they’re constantly fighting a rival pirate, a blowhard chauvinist named Turko (John Montomgery)!  Turko only has one eye, that’s how much of a pirate he is!

If the film had just been Kelly and Anggie fighting Turko, The Muthers probably would be a classic.  However, since this is a Filipino women-in-prison film, Kelly soon discovers that her sister has been imprisoned on Get Out If You Can Island.  (Seriously, that’s what they call the island.)  The island is run by the evil Montiero (played by Tony Carreon, a perennial villain in Filipino cinema) and, if they don’t rescue her, Montiero will sell her into prostitution.

Naturally, Kelly and Anggie go undercover and infiltrate the island.  Sadly, the film gets kind of boring after Kelly and Anggie reach the prison.  One reason why Filipino exploitation films are so respected and loved by aficionados of grindhouse cinema is because they frequently went totally and completely over the top.  There was a shamelessness to the best of the Filipino grindhouse films and it makes them fascinating to watch.  The Muthers starts out like a classic, with the pirates and Turko and all that, but once Kelly and Anggie reach the island, the film becomes oddly restrained.  There’s little violence, little sex, only one notable use of slow motion, and the film even lacks the radical political subtext that runs through many women-in-prison films.  One can’t help but wonder what the late Jess Franco would have done with the same material.

So, sadly, The Muthers failed to live up to the promise of that poster.

It happens.