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Cast: Sarsi Emmanuelle, Mark Joseph, Maria Isabel Lopez, Myrna Manibog
Mondo Macabro / Unrated / 2 Disk Limited Edition / NTSC R1 / Widescreen 1.85:1 / 125 minutes
Extras: Interview with director Elwood Perez / Interview with actress Maria Isabel Lopez / Extensive Background Information / Mondo Macabro Previews
A young woman, Tonya, lives in a small Filipino village rife with sexual frustration, confusion and worst of all, lust. She has taken the role of religious "teacher" while the village's priest is away. She teaches the children abstinence because she sees the rest of the village as sexual sinners. Her mother was stoned because she was a whore so Tonya is a little, well, adamant about her lessons. But when her childhood friend Selma comes back to visit, old feelings and rivalries flare up because both of the women love Simon, the town hunk/man-whore.
Tonya will never have sex with Simon even though he wants her to. Selma only wants to fuck him to get back at Tonya. But Selma also wants to take the children away too so she can further ruin Tonya. She begins to teach them the ways of the world. How to dance, indulge and what they should do about their sexual feelings. The adults start to think Tonya is crazy and is hurting their sons and daughters. Before long people begin to let lust have their thoughts and make their decisions: Lust for sex, love, betrayal and revenge!
There is so much going on in this movie. I touched on the very, very simple plot just to give you an idea of what's going on. When I received this I thought it was going to be another zany erotic exploitation gem from Southeast Asia (ala Mystics in Bali) but what I got was a beautiful film about sexual ignorance, suppression and human desire in its most raw form. This movie goes where only foreign art-house-type movies would dare. It shows the sexual identities that are inherent in children. No, it's nowhere near "kiddie porn", so don't get all riled up. It does what Selma is doing in the movie itself, trying to open people's minds and show them that sex isn't evil and men don't have horns "down there". The director and writer worked together to create a dramatic, slightly disturbing, poetic, erotic yet not overtly exploitative movie that belongs beside film makers like Alejandro Jodorowsky, though not quite as strange.
For a seasoned art-house/exploitation/erotica fan, there is nothing really shocking (other than the aforementioned sex/children dynamic) except for the opening shot. Simon is killing a buffalo so the village can have meat but the children are there begging him not to and to have mercy on the beast. While this is a very important scene (you will know what I mean after you watch the movie) it very, very graphic and real. He bashes the creature over the head with a hammer over and over until it's dead. Then he guts it in front of all of the kids. Cannibal Holocaust, eat your heart out (pun intended!). If you are into more than just gratuitous nudity and violence, and you're into artistic love stories with an edge, pick this up.