When Hell Broke Loose
Directed by ???
When Hell Broke Loose is a crazy mess of a film involving all sorts of demons and goofy things and at some point a guy fights a giant puppet tiger and even flies out of the tiger’s butt. The story is steeped in religious philosophy and involves forgiveness, but as one of the main characters does some pretty despicable things, it is hard to have any sort of empathy for the character.
Besides the puppet tiger, the main attraction of When Hell Broke Loose is the visits to Chinese Hell. As you may already know, the concept of Hell in China is complicated, with a mix of Buddhism, Taoism, and a lot of local beliefs. Exactly what parts make up hell depends on which mixture you are using. Hell is called Diyu (地狱) and is basically a place where you go to get punished/tortured for your various sins until you achieve atonement and get reincarnated to the next life. The most common depictions of Diyu have 10 courts ruled by the 10 Yama kings, but there are also depictions of 4 or 18 levels. When Hell Broke Loose seems to follow the 18 level route, but as 18 is a simplification of the 134 levels in the Buddhist text Wen Diyu Jing (問地獄經), you can see how this is complicated. Here is an interesting article about a place called Haw Par Villa, sort of a museum/amusement park with statues of the various demons and tortures of the 10 levels of hell. Some of the creatures and tortures depicted show up in this film.
When Hell Broke Loose has a lot of random scenes of people being tortured in Chinese Hell. Not so many it can be sold as a torture porn film, but at least 10-15 minutes of scenes added just to spice up the Monk wandering around Diyu. A few scenes fit in with the movie’s story of redemption and atonement for past sins, but the bulk were just added as gonzo exploitation fare. That gets really nuts when the secret ending of When Hell Broke Loose is revealed! What is the secret ending? You’ll have to read it below!
There is precious little information about When Hell Broke Loose, I can’t find it on any database, nor the director, and the only actors IDed anywhere are Yu Tien Lung and Wen Chiang Lung.
The film opens with like 9000 words onscreen as the camera zooms into the faces of golden Buddhas, but as the words are in Chinese I can only read like 10 of them. So: Something, something, something, something, something, something, 18 gates, something something person, something, many somethings. And now you know the prologue to When Hell Broke Loose! Tell your friends! Call your enemies! Email the guy stuck in traffic next to you on the freeway!
Batbabe: The Dark Nightie
Written by John Bacchus and Michael Raso
Directed by John Bacchus
Seduction Cinema strikes again, putting out two super-hero themed erotic parodies to cash in on the summer of the super-hero, the Iron Man parody The Insatiable IronBabe was the other. We’re focusing on Batbabe: The Dark Nightie this time out, because that’s the one we have a copy of!
One of the least erotic erotic movies I have ever seen, it is basically a parody film with naked chicks and dildos. Although I don’t think anyone was going into this expecting high art, there were probably some late night watchers who were expecting it to be a bit sexy. But Batbabe is not the type of softcore film you would be watching with your girlfriend or wife, it’s more of the film you watch alone, or with a group of guys. It does have plenty of lame jokes, and the entire film is just one long filthy joke. And there is an audience for that, so they get what they want. I believe there is a place in the world for films like Batbabe, and will not disparage the people who would watch it. Heck, we enjoyed Seduction Cinema’s Kinky Kong, but were less impressed with their outings Bikini Girls on Dinosaur Planet, Vampire Vixens, and That 70′s Girl.
One can probably go on a long essay about turning a dark film such as The Dark Knight into a softcore comedy, with the many themes or elements borrowed, missing, or twisted. But this will not be such an essay, because that essay would probably be boring and focus too much on The Dark Knight, a film that’s been analyzed to death by internet message boards.
Alyas Batman en Robin
Directed by Tony Y. Reyes
Written by Joey de Leon and Tony Y. Reyes
The Philippines returns to prove nobody does Batman like they do! Batman continues to be a campy caped crusader, and all the familiar elements are here – the classic villains, evil doing, and saving the day. The stakes may be lower, but there is still wrongs to be righted. And Alyas Batman en Robin showed everymen becoming superheroes long before Mark Millar stole it for Kick-Ass. I’m on to you, Millar!
If you remember the overview of the Filipino Batman films I did at the beginning of the James Batman review, then you’ll remember Alyas Batman en Robin from 1993 is the most recent. So here it is! Part musical, part campy, part guys beating up people, and part a love story, Alyas Batman en Robin tries to be a lot of things. Let’s find out if it succeeds…
But first, the Roll Call!
Directed and screenplay by Artemio Marquez
Story by Pepito Vera Perez
James Batman is both a comic parody and wonderful homage to both the 1960s Batman TV series and the James Bond films. Legendary Filipino comedian Dolphy plays both title characters, as they team up to take down the ultimate terrorist organization, who has set its sights on conquering the world (typical!) Because this film is somewhat rare, you’re gonna get a long infodump in the beginning, and a long review as well. And if you don’t like to read, there will be a bajillion pictures and even a movie clip!
The Philippines have a long history of making Batman films that are completely unauthorized (along with a whole slew of other superheroes.) James Batman isn’t even the first Batman! 1965′s Alyas Batman at Robin has that distinction. It featured Bob Soler as Batman, Lou Salvador Jr. as Robin, and actress Nova Villa. James Batman was next in 1966. 1967 gave us Batman Fights Dracula in color, featuring Jing Abalos as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Ramon D’Salva, and Vivian Lorrain. (Batman seems to fight vampires a lot).
There was a trilogy of Batwoman and Robin films that began in 1972 with Batwoman and Robin. They starred female action star Virginia (aka Virginia Gaerlan aka Virginia Aristorenas) from Revenge of Lady Fighter as Batwoman, her real life son Robin Aristorenas played Robin, and Jun Aristorenas/Junar (Virginia’s husband) produced and directed. Tony Cayado took over directing duties for the sequel Batwoman and Robin Meet the Queen of the Vampires, but by 1973′s Johnny Joker, Jun Aristorenas was directing again and even starred as Johnny Joker. Virginia and Robin were back as well, along with Merle Fernandez as Catwoman, Freddie Webb as Spider Web, and Palito as Lastikman.
UPDATE: 2 stills from Johnny Joker can be found here. Warning! The stills will make you more angry the film is lost!
Fight Batman Fight! is a 1973 joint starring Victor Wood as Batman, Lotis Key as Catwoman, Rod Navarro as Joker, Pinky Montilla as Bat Girl, and Roderick Paulate as Robin. It also has an awesome-looking cardboard box robot. The final Batman flick is 1991′s Alyas Batman en Robin, which you will find out more about soon. Sadly, of all these wonderful films, only James Batman and Alyas Batman en Robin still exist in a watchable form. It is possible that there are vhs tapes of these surviving somewhere, but the original prints are long gone and most of the masters were destroyed at some point during the various political uprisings along with countless other films.
James Batman stars Dolphy, one of the most famous comedians from the Philippines ever. Born in 1928 as Rodolfo Vera Quizon, he began his career during the Japanese occupation at the age of 17 doing stage work. Two years later he made his film debut, playing mostly bit roles. After some exposure in radio, he began headlining films in 1952, and also began his long time partnership with fellow comedian Panchito (who would do his own Batman movie turn as Paenguin in Alyas Batman en Robin.) He has continued to work for decades, even gaining modern fame for his 2001 film Markova: Comfort Gay. Never married, Dolphy has 17 children from his five long term relationships, including several who have also entered show business. His spoof films covered almost every possible genre and most popular film series at the time. They include Tansan the Mighty (1962), Dolpinger (1965), Scarface at Al Capone: Espiya sa Ginto (1965), Alias Popeye (1966), Captain Barbell Boom! (1973), Da Best in da West (1984), and dozens more. Sadly, many of his films are considered lost, but thanks to sheer volume there are a lot still around.
Batman and Robin are presented just as campy as the TV series lays them out to be. But the jokes have to go further for this film, so we get random sight gags such as a machine that delivers food in the Batcave obviously being a guy in a box thanks to the all-too-human hand that comes out of it (is that Alfred???) and let’s not forget the random scene where Robin shows off how if you put a light bulb in his mouth it glows. Yeah. Music guy Caroling Cruz is not afraid to just rip the Batman theme directly, further cementing this as a bizarre fever dream episode of the series.
El Attaba Gazaz
aka Glass Threshold
Directed by Niazi Mustafa
Egyptian comedy films date back to at least 1919′s Madam Lolita, with popular early comedians in the silent era being Ali al-Kassar and Nagib al-Rihani. Both had roots in the local improv theater scene (called al-masrah al-murtajal) and most of the story was just goofball antics around a loose plot. Rihani was fond of stories involving class displacement, Salama Fi Khayr (Salama is Fine) featured an errand boy mistaken for a sultan. Rihani died in 1949, and by the late 1940s Egyptian comedy had shifted to musical comedies.
Another important name in Egyptian comedy is Ismail Yasin, who made his film debut in 1939. His exaggerated physical comedy propelled him to fame, and by the 1950s his name was used in the titles of the films he starred in, such as Ismail Yasin in the Army (1955) or Ismail Yasin in the Wax Museum (1955). Some of his films were outright copies of Abbot and Costello (Haram Alek aka Ismail Yasin Meets Frankenstein (1954)) and he starred in what is arguably the first Egyptian scifi film, A Trip to the Moon Many of Yasin’s works were scripted by his mentor, Abo El Seoud El Ebiary, who was said to have written over 500 films, examples being al-Zawja Raqam 13 aka Wife No. 13 (1962) and Mirati Mudir ‘Am aka My Wife is a General Director (1966),
1963′s A’ilat Zizi (Zizi’s Family) is a standard generic romantic comedy featuring an actress trying to convince a director to get her a role in his film. She doesn’t get the part, but does win his heart. And that would probably be the tagline in America. Fatin Abd al-Wahhab directed, and it starred Suad Husni and Fouad el-Mohandes, who is important because he stars in this film. Also starring in this film is el-Mohandes’s then-wife, Shwikar, and they worked together in many comedic films covering several genres including westerns and gangster films.
By the 1970s, Egyptian cinema was on a decline due to increased government control, and comedic films became one of the few ways to speak out. But that is a tale for another movie review’s infodump. Some of the artists and movie names above you might see spelled different ways thanks to the liberal translation methods of Arabic to English.
Fouad el-Mohandes (فؤاد المهندس aka Fuad al-Muhandis) was born September 7, 1924. After making a name in the theater world, he entered motion pictures in 1954. His most famous role is in Futin Abd Al Wahhab’s Aa’ilat Zizi (Zizi’s Family), then el-Mohandes went on to star in a series of films with his second wife, Shwikar, including Akhtar Ragul Fil Aalam (The Most Dangerous Man In The World), Ard El Nifaq (Land of Hypocrisy), and Sayedaty Al Jamila (My Fair Lady). Yes, that is an Arabic My Fair Lady. By the 1970s, el-Mohandes had returned to supporting roles, and he focused more on the theater. He formed his own troupe in Zamalek called the Fouad El-Mohandes Theater. He died in September 2006 at age 82
Shwikar (شويكار aka Shweikar or Showekar) was born November 24, 1936 and began acting in the Egyptian city of Alexandria before being discovered and working in Cairo. After beginning in dramamtic roles, she eventually moved to more comedic roles and teamed with her second husband Fouad el-Mohandes for a series of films in the 1960s.
El Attaba Gazaz is the beginning of our Batmania! series, where we look at Batman-ish films from around the world. Why is El Attaba Gazaz in this series? Because one of the characters dresses up as a Batman inspired character during a musical number, and there is more Batman costume hijinks later in the film. Sadly, it isn’t a masked hero film, but it is as close as we can get from Egypt. When I first found out about this film, I freaked the heck out trying to find out what its name was, as the name wasn’t apparent. After some prime rib Googling, I figured out the title and ordered a disk off of eBay. It arrived, complete with a bonus greasy thumbprint on the DVD. And the store misspelled my name so badly I did not think it would be humanly possible to get it so wrong. But they also somehow turned part of it into “Imam” so now I am a religious leader in the world of Islam. So expect some random jihads by the end of the week.
El Attaba Gazaz is filled with the standard spy film joke tropes…communication devices in all sorts of random objects, secret doors, disguises, fake deaths, identical strangers, night clubs, hypnosis, goons with hooks for hands, goons with eyepatches, and turncoats. Technically, the film looks ambitious and manages to keep some of its more bigger scope images in the context of musical numbers, giving the film a charming edge. But the boom mike fairly obvious is many scenes. And the cheap Egyptian DVD doesn’t have subtitles, but here at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles. The character names are guesses based on my limited Arabic speaking ability.
Egyptian films feature songs, in case you were wondering. Like a lot of older foreign films, much action takes place in nightclubs. This can been seen in American films in the 30s-40s, but by the 1950s television had taken over the land and America had become the land of couch potatoes. The potatoization of Egypt and Turkey happened at some time in the 1970s, thus the large amount of nightclubs still in movies in the late 1960s.