Tom Selleck vs. the Daughters of Satan!

A friend of mine asked me to find this movie. His wife is Filipino, and because this was filmed in the Philippines and stars Tom Selleck- who he has a man crush on- he wanted to see it. Let me tell you, James, this is no Jesse Stone movie. It’s pretty bad, but in a good, witch-sploitation way. They get the titillation out of the way in shot one, frame one, as we see a Filipino witch suspended topless over bamboo stakes by her evil coven, who demand she renew her vows with El Diablo. She is whipped by a witch with crazy eyes, who we later learn is named Kitty Duarte, and finally gives in… we see a rogue’s gallery of obvious baddies, including a guy with a witch’s peak doing down to the bridge of his nose, and a skeletal cackling fellow… we’ll see them all again.

We immediately cut to Tom Selleck, resplendent in a perfectly trimmed porn ‘stache, as he goes into a creepy little antique shop run by Mr. Widow’s Peak, who is selling a clueless tourist a witch’s knife. It’s a huge dagger with a serpentine handle, and the tourist is buying it “for luck.” I’m a knife nut and even I don’t have a Lucky Sacrificial Dagger… maybe I should get one? If I go to the Philippines, I’ll look for one. Maybe I’ll be attacked by titwitches. That would be awesome, except for the sacrificing me to the devil part. At the shop, Selleck sees a painting of witches being burned at the stake, where the lead witch is a dead ringer for his wife. Horror movie rule #43: Never buy a painting of a dead person that resembles you or your loved ones. It is haunted, you dumbass.

Even Tom’s hairy chest cannot protect him from what is to come. He looks like he rolled around on a barber shop floor, doesn’t he? (Thanks to Milky for that one.) His wife is played by Barra Grant, a hottie best known for being Miss America Bess Myerson’s daughter, and starring in the Bill Cosby flick MOTHER, JUGS & SPEED before giving up on film. She is immediately freaked out by the painting, and who wouldn’t be? There are two witches, a black dog, and a mustached Spaniard in conquistador gear in the painting, who looks like Selleck, of course. Even though she’s playing the Typical 70’s Housewife, who jumps on chairs when mice attack, and still faints at the sound of a dog fart, it’s pretty creepy for your husband to come home and say “Hey, I bought this painting of a woman being burned alive because SHE LOOKS LIKE YOU!”

Lies. He never fights Satan.

I mean, if Firecracker came home with a photo of a guy being hanged who looked like me, I’d hide all the damn rope. And her instincts are correct. Not long after the painting comes home, than weird things start happening. A black Rottweiler appears in the yard, and he loves Barra but snarls at Selleck. We see the dog run off, and fade into the grass. Wouldn’t you know it, the dog in the painting has faded away? Hmm, wonder what that means. Soon, one of the women in the background fades, just as their new housekeeper shows up for work. And guess who she looks like? Cue the theremin! Creepy shit be afoot!! Really, I hope the horror movie association gave Dr. Theremin some posthumous award for all he’s done for these films. The soundtrack here is relentless, and it does help, because it’s all rather silly.

Soon Barra falls under her housekeeper’s spell, and investigators are brought in, and die suspicious deaths! Tom gets knocked out, put in his Triumph roadster on the edge of a cliff, with blocks of ice chocking the tires.  Will he survive? This is a rare case of a film giving away plot twists with its lobby cards, as you can see below. Wifey gets witchy, and shows off her jugs at the one hour mark as she too is suspended over the bamboo spikes, forced to say the devil’s prayer. It’s all rather predictable and over the top, and can be a lot of fun if you know what you’re getting into. I was surprised that Turner Classic Movies showed it uncut, because the topless scenes aren’t quick shots. This is pure ’70s exploitation. I liked the ending, but wish there were a lot more witchy goings on, and that Tom Selleck battled Satan, like the poster promises.

I love a good ’70s occult flick, and this one delivers. I also love cheesy films from the Philippines, like the Weng Weng James Bond spoofs. So this is a win-win for cheesy horror, perfect for this witchy time of year. If you can track it down, it’s worth seeing, if only to see early Tom Selleck battle a coven of sexy witches.

© 2010 Tommy Salami

For Your Height Only! Filipino Dwarf Spy Thriller

Weng Weng was a big action star in the 80’s in the Philippines. Well, not physically of course. He was 2’9″ but he had a lot of charm, style and some kick-ass kung fu moves. He starred in a number of James Bond spoofs, but For Y’ur Height Only was the first. The movies are delightfully tongue in cheek and all over the internet at this point, in fact I’m pretty sure most of the movie is on youtube, if you want to check it out yourself. It is also available on DVD and on Netflix. Or you can just watch this great fan trailer with many of the best scenes:

I’ll come straight out and admit it- I’ve always been enthralled by Little People. It probably began with seeing Under the Rainbow and Billy Barty in Foul Play a thousand times on HBO as a kid. I even watched some of that reality show, “Little People, Big World” a few times. And I’m sort of a Peter Dinklage fanboy, but that’s besides the point- this movie is hilarious.

It is considered bad form to make demands in a Klan hood.

The evil Mr. Giant has kidnapped Dr. Kohler and is holding the world hostage with his N-bomb. Mr. Giant is a shadowy unknown figure in the underworld with a huge army of bad guys in tropical shirts and mustaches. Thankfully the government provides Agent 00 with cool gadgets to defeat this menace. These include:
A Ring that Can Detect Poison! “This ring can detect all poisons. It’s made out of gold. platinum was too expensive. Our budget is a problem”
A Tiny Jet Pack! This looks like two fire extinguishers and some hose, but it works surprisingly well.
A Remote Control Hat! Stolen directly from Oddjob and improved 100%.
A Tiny Break-Down Machinegun! Perfectly sized for Agent 00, this never runs out of ammo.

No nutsack is safe when Agent 00 is on the case!

He hunts down Mr. Giant’s men at a dojo and even has a battle with samurai swords. His diminutive size makes it easy for him to sneak up on you and punch you in the nuts, though he is also capable of swinging up Yoda-style and choking you out with his legs, or sliding across the floor to trip you over and step on your neck.

Henchmen mystified by a hat on a string

When there are too many henchmen for Weng Weng to handle, he relies on the many gadgets they gave him. My personal fave was the remote-control Oddjob hat, which can be used to cloud men’s minds. When things really get nasty it can also be used as a deadly weapon:

Agent 00 is just too much for them. The henchmen are assured that he’s in league with Satan. “He’s big pals with Lucifer!” They also compare him to an eel. “How the hell do you hold onto an eel?”
“Beaten by a lousy eel! We gonna hafta git outta town!” It’s about as campy as What’s Up Tiger Lily? and just as much fun.
Weng Weng isn’t just a kung fu superstar, he’s also a ladies’ man. As any Bond clone must be, he is a killer with the ladies and rescues the “inside girl” they have in Mr. Giant’s gang when she is exposed. And he is well rewarded.

When it’s time for the final showdown, Agent 00 uses the last of his gadgets. I think he actually uses them in the sequence he is given them, which is either terribly clever or an amusing insight into how quickly the script was written. He jetpacks in to Mr. Giant’s lair for the ultimate confrontation:
How can you not love a movie that makes a jet pack out of fire extinguishers? Besides, Weng Weng is so fetching in his white suit, and such a natural physical actor that the movie would be better without the campy dubbed dialogue. There are a lot of good sight gags, but the attempts at jokes added later by the dubbing team are pretty lame, like “Oh, I’ve got to run with these little feet!”
The best gag is that Mr. Giant is also a dwarf, albeit taller than Agent 00. They have their kung fu fight and of course our guy is victorious. Because height doesn’t matter, when you’re as smooth as Weng Weng!

There are a lot of “foreign oddity” movies, but the Weng Weng comedy/action spoofs are pretty entertaining in their own right, with that sort of quaint old-time charm of Hollywood silent films and stuff like Laurel & Hardy or the Three Stooges. There is a sequel called The Impossible Kid, which is pretty much the same movie with new gadgets and a lot more kung fu fights. He’s got a little motorcycle, and fights a female karate master in her dojo. That will get its own review someday. It’s actually better in some ways because the dubbing isn’t insulting to Weng Weng. I also found another film called Wild Wild Weng, which despite sounding like a porno is another fun action flick that I need to watch sometime soon. when I do, you know you’ll hear about it here.
Sadly, the big little star died in 1992. He’d been in movies since the 60’s and is still listed as the shortest person in a leading role. It looks like fellow blogger Andrew Leavold is working on a documentary called The Search for Weng Weng that is coming out this year, and his blog has more information on the action star than I could ever hope to find. I’ll be keeping an eye on his blog and hopefully will be able to see the movie.

RIP Weng Weng, you will live long in our memories.