Wednesday, March 27, 2013

THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG: Kickstarter Week #2 update!

Dear friends and colleagues,

As you may have heard, I'm currently running a crowdfunding campaign to finish my THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG documentary -

The film has been a labour of love since I started filming in 2006. In short (no pun intended, I swear), it's a guerrilla-shot chronicle of my obsessive quest to find the two-foot-nine James Bond of the Philippines. Funnily enough, THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG is shaping into a film as much about obsession and following one's passions to extremes as it is about its two-foot-nine subject.

With over 100 hours in the can, it's finally time to deliver a 90 minute documentary feature. The $30,000 we're asking for from Kickstarter pledges is to pay for its post-production and, down the track, touring the film internationally. The idea is to fund its completion in the same way it was filmed - guerrilla style - to retain as much control as possible over the project. The finished film will subsequently be released in this country theatrically and on DVD by Monster Pictures in Melbourne (

At two weeks into the eight-week campaign, we are currently more than a third of the way towards our goal, and that's a very encouraging beginning.

However, there's a long way to go, and for that reason I'm asking for a personal favour from each of you.

Could you please visit the link, watch the video, and then forward the link and this blurb to anyone who might be interested. This would include:

- would-be investors, both small and large (and with a huge list of incentives on offer, even a $10 pledge to Kickstarter receives a VIP ticket to its Australian premiere);

- media outlets (newspapers, TV and radio stations, bloggers, social media);

- family and friends;

- and overseas distributors, exhibitors, film festivals etc.

I apologize for imposing on your valuable time, but I really believe you will recognize in this venture the tenacious spirit of independent filmmaking alive and kicking. Needless to say there is a lot riding on this for me, both professionally and personally, and I hope I can inspire you into coming along with me on my adventure of a lifetime.

Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to continuing this conversation here, by private message, or via email at

Warmest regards,

Andrew Leavold (Writer/Director, THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

End Of The Wicked (1999) NEVER BROADCAST

End Of The Wicked
Nigeria 1999 colour
Director Teco Benson           
Cast Hilda Dokubo (Stella), Ramsey Nouah (Emeka), Charles Okafor (Chris), Alex Usifo Omiagbo (Beelzebub), Patience Oseni (Mama Chris), Helen Ukpabio (Pastor)

Is there such a thing as an evil film?

It can be argued that Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph Of The Will, a propeganda film which helped usher in the Nazi Party's rise to power, or The Eternal Jew, an apology piece for the impending Final Solution, are by association imbued with an aura of evil and wickedness.

If such a list exists, I would also add End Of The Wicked from Nigeria as one of the most sinful films of the modern era, a movie implicated in the murder of thousands of children across West Africa. And also tonight's entertainment here on Schlock Treatment.

Helen Ukpabio in mid-protestation
Nigeria's odd hybrid of pentecostal Christianity and deeply-rooted pagan beliefs in black magic or "juju" has evolved into a Medieval world view, in which demons and witches are all around us, and are responsible for all ill-will or bad luck. One of the largest and loudest of these fundamentalist organizations is the Liberty Gospel Church, run by Helen Ukpabio, a determined and influential preacher with a commanding presence, although her appearance in End Of The Wicked would deny it. Her published bio states she was initiated into a Satanic cult at 14 and was groomed to be Lucifer's bride, so when she speaks of demons, you simply must BELIEVE. Over twenty evangelical films are credited to Liberty, since the late Nineties, but none have been more far-reaching and with such catastrophic results as End Of The Wicked.

Central to Helen Ukpabio's evangelist crusade against witchcraft and "wickedness" is the idea that children are the most susceptible to demonic possession. If something bad happens, goes the theory, blame those unable to articulate their innocence. The result is a generation of children bullied into believing they are witches, cast out of villages, or worse: tortured confessions, beatings, mutilations, live burials, burnings and more. The symptoms, according to Ukpabio? Walking or talking in their sleep, persistent crying, poor health. From her book, “Unveiling the Mysteries of Witchcraft,” she states “if a child under the age of 2 screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health, he or she is a servant of Satan.” That Ukpabio's tiny victims are from the more impoverished parts of Nigeria is a given. Whatever the circumstances are of an unhappy and/or impoverished childhood, it sounds like you're damned if you do ANYthing.

Which brings us to End Of The Wicked, a foaming-at-the-mouth diatribe against the presence of demons and witches in our midst. Watching the procession of the damned is Beelzebub himself, white faced with a vivid crimson Van Dyke, sitting on his Evil Throne surrounded by shape-shifting crones. "Dance the seduction dance!" he booms, trying to get the party started. "The most sexy dance on Earth!" The ignomies pile up - in the Torture Department a damned man's eyeballs pop out of his head and swing on the end of stalks. One witch has possessed the wife of another doomed villager, then shapeshifts into his mother, grows a ten inch penis and rapes the sleeping wife. The village children too are taken from their beds and dragged to Beelzebub's throne to do his bidding - See? It's all the proof you need that children are EVIL!!! But still, Beelzebub is never satisfied, and like the CEO of Qantas, keeps screaming "We must increase our wickedness!"

We've played several Nigerian Godsploitation films before on Schlock Treatment, so regular viewers will be prepared. For the Nollywood novice: only God will save you from the yelled dialogue in quasi-English, the garish home computer effects, and the hateful breath of fundamentalist Christianity fogging up every minute of its litany of horrors. At the centre of End Of The Wicked is Ukpabio herself, wielding her Sword of Righteousness against the infant armies of Beelzebub in one hand and clutching a mountain of "Get Out Of Hell Free" cards in the other. Back in the real world, each time Ukpabio is investigated she cries religious persecution or plays the racism card. But the statistics speak for themselves - from the late Nineties, there are believed to be over 2000 deaths in Nigeria alone, and many more in other parts of Africa. Liberty is not the only church to squarely lay the blame; exorcising witch children is big business, and despite laws prohibiting the torture and execution of Witch Children, the African landscape remains dotted with 21st Century Matthew Hopkins, the smoke from charred infants swirling around their feet. And with that imagine firmly implanted in your brains, I sentence you to the Torture Department to watch End Of The Wicked.

Commando (1988) NEVER BROADCAST

India 1988 colour
Directors Rajesh Singh, Yash Chouhan, B. Subhash Writer B. Subhash
Cast Mithun Chakraborty (Chandu), Mandakini (Asha Malhotra), Shakti Kapoor (Inspector General), Danny Denzongpa (Ninja), Amrish Puri (Marcelloni), Bob Christo (Assassin)

Ah, the Eighties, the Golden Age of cheesy action flicks. Rambo avengers, M16s. Red ninjas, white ninjas. Musical numbers.

Yes, we've unearthed for your viewing pleasure a Bollywood Ninja film, courtesy of the team who brought you Disco Dancer and the Gunmaster G9 series of Disco James Bonds, and starring the King of Curry Puffs himself, Disco Dancer Mithun Chakraborty. It's Commando ("Commandooooooooooo!") from 1988, and if any mad masala takes its cues from the Cannon Films' ninja cycle, the music from Star Wars and The Good The Bad And The Ugly, steals the name of a Schwarzeneggar film, and restages the entirety of the 1968 Clint Eastwood war film Where Eagles Dare, you know you're in for a wild cable car ride.

Commando opens with ten year old Chandu training with his soldier father to a musical montage. Sometimes son, the message goes, you must sacrifice yourself for your country's greater cause. "Commandooooooooooo………." Fate swiftly shows its hand - Father takes a bullet for Indira Gandhi, the Indian prime minister who had been assassinated in real life just four years prior to the film's release. Father is soon smoking on a funeral pyre, leaving behind one mad, babbling wife and a smouldering son who grows up fiercely patriotic, militaristic, and intent on getting revenge.

The headstrong adult Chandu is posted at a munitions factory, and despite being set up for the death of his comrades, he wins over the platoon and the heart of the factory's owner Asha (the stunning Mandakini, also in Mithun's Dance Dance), prompting more musical numbers from the Disco Dancer hit factory of Bappi Lahiri. He soon discovers, however, his employer is the same supplier his father's killer buys his guns from. And what a villain - Masaloni is some kind of Euro-Pakistani crypto-facist who hides in a mountain lair across the border, surrounds himself with a cabal international terrorists (read: white neo-colonialists), and has his own ninja school for the express purpose of bringing down the Indian way of life. At stake is more than national security as Chandu braves wave after wave of ninja assassins to bring down Masaloni, save his sweetheart and avenge his family's honour. 

One steadfast rule with Hindi films is that they dare not break their caveat with the audience. The romantic plot, with its endless twists of fate and musical interludes, is as important as the action narrative and is given equal screen time. In a sense, Bollywood gives you more than two movies in one - a comedy, a melodrama, a martial arts film and a musical. Trust me, at two and half hours we've been spared, as Commando could have been much, MUCH longer. Keeping up interest is the way the film plays with populist Indian notions of Pakistani aggression and global conspiracies; Pakistan is never mentioned directly, only as a "neighbouring country" (very diplomatic). I also love the scattered, hair-brained way Commando buys into the whole Eighties Sho Kosugi ninja franchise - not that any royalties were paid for any borrowed merchandise - and introduces India's own Kosugi, Danny Denzongpa, an Indian from the Himalayan state of Sikkim (hence his trademark Asiatic features).

Oh, and another word to the wary and soon to be weary: the subtitles vanish half an hour before the end. Not that they're needed; by then it's just one exploding bus after another. Thank you Mr Disco Dancer, you've done it again, introducing us to the world of Bollywood Ninjas with Commandooooooooooooo!

Avenging Woman Warrior 2 (1991) NEVER BROADCAST

Avenging Warrior Woman 2
Mexico 1991 colour
aka La Guerrera Vengadora 2
Director Raul Fernández Jr Writers Raúl Fernández Jr, Rolando Fernández, Carlos Valdemar
Cast Rosa Gloria Chagoyan, Rolando Fernandez, Edna Bolkan, Jorge Vargas, Tun Tun, Carlo East

In the Seventies, Mexican pulp cinema took a turn down a dirt road and left the masked mexican wrestlers and silver-suited alien women behind. Dubbed "Narco Cinema", the films were cheaper, nastier tales torn from tabloid headlines: of cocaine barons and vigilantes, of police raids on crack dens and Robin Hoods of the drug-ravaged wastelands. One early Narco classic was Lola La Traiera, or "Lola The Trucker", from 1983, in which the daughter of a trucker gunned down by a drug cartel takes her revenge. Lola had long legs, big hair, big wheels, and that smoking Latino sensuality, and turned former soap actress Rosa Gloria Chagoyan into a bona fide ass-kicking icon of South-of-ze-Border action films. Lola reportedly became the biggest grossing Mexican film to date, and started a trucker craze which, not surprisingly included several more Lola sequels starring Rosa Gloria.

Lola wasn't her only successful franchise. Avenging Warrior Woman from 1988 struck a similar chord with Mexican audiences, featuring Rosa Gloria as Ana Rosa, a kind of Charles Bronson/Sidney Poiter hybrid: high school teacher by day, weapon-toting vigilante by night, and aided by her omnipresent dwarf butler Reintegro, or "Refund". In the first film she takes on another drug cartel and wins, leaving their boss in a wheelchair; in the second film our heroine has amped up the odds and her weapon's store, and in a triumph of cinematic chutzpah, thwarts a bank robbery on her motorbike equipped with triple-barrelled machine guns. Voom! Right through a plate glass window, white jumpsuit dazzling and barrels a-blazing.

Of course, not everyone believes she's a hero, but luckily her boyfriend works for the police department and can keep her identity a secret. As mild-mannered high school teacher she takes a pregnant student under her wing, only to find her butchered by the cartel's assassins on her lounge room floor. "She was pregnaaaaaaaaant!" Rosa Gloria enunciates with all the chops her soap opera background has provided. "Bastards! Killers!"

She then goes deep undercover to find El Pregno's killers. The cartel then kidnaps a nosy Senator's daughter and has the police department in a frenzy, but not Avenging Warrior Woman, who smells the work of her now-chairbound nemesis. She has her enormous arsenal - I repeat, enormous arsenal - to draw upon, which includes a seemingly endless supply of guns, grenades, and explosive arrows from a laser-guided crossbow. And let's not forget her secret weapon Refund, who's often more of a liability - take for example the moment he slides down a chute into a French restaurant's kitchen, and is chased around the floor mistaken for a flour-covered rat - but he does come in useful doing the cooking and cleaning, or whenever she needs a small step-ladder.
Avenging Warrior Woman 2 has everything you could want in an 80s or 90s action movie - ludicrous stunts, bullet storms, outrageous violencia, and loud dumb explosivos, and oh, that pair of dancer's legs reportedly insured for a million bucks, wrapped around a motorbike while chased by a helicopter. Viva the glorious Rosa Gloria in Avenging Warrior Woman 2.

Ghost Of Guts Eater (1973) NEVER BROADCAST

Ghost Of Guts Eater
Thailand 1973 colour
aka Krasue Sao
Director S. "Nawaraj"/Naowaratch
Cast Sombat Methanee (Muang), Pisamai Vilaisakoi (Bua Klee)

Welcome to the lurid universe of pulpy Thai horrors, and our rarer-than-rare krasue film Ghost Of Guts Eater.

This is a film that definitely needs some context. The krasue is a peculiar South East Asian variation of the vampire myth, believed to be Hindu or Buddhist in origin, and takes the form of a curse or case of demonic possession. The difference is that head detaches itself from the body and flies off looking for food, carrying with it the oesophagus, stomach and intestines. In Indonesia it's known as the Leak, in Cambodia the Ap, Phi-Kasu in Laos and in Malay as the Penanggalan. As with western vampires the krasue hunts for blood or flesh at night - although in Asia it favours new born babies and their placenta. The flying head may also be trapped by thorns, and must return to its resting place - or in the krasue's case the neck! - before cock crows.

"Witch With Flying Head" films are a staple of Asian horror, particularly in Thai cinema, and Ghost Of Guts Eater from 1973 is the earliest surviving example. Ghost... doesn't waste any time opening, maybe not kicking but certainly screaming, with a flying witch on the loose in the chicken house of a tiny Thai hamlet. Yes, there it is: the detached head with guts a'flying, surrounded by what looks like a flashing police light, making it a somewhat easy target for the villagers trying to whack it like an unstable pinata. Fatally wounded, the head rejoins the witch's body, but not before she passes the curse to her only relative, her glamorous granddaughter Bua Klee, via her precious ring.

Time passes, and Bua Klee marries sweetheart Boon Muang (that's Thai superstar Sombat Metanee). They settle into domestic bliss, except for Grandmother Chim's voice from beyond the grave reminding her she's hungry for blood. Suddenly - the new blushing bride completely loses her head. One aborted trip to a couple's placenta chest later, the village accuse her of witchcraft, and the couple plus best friend move to his Uncle Moedy's village to start a new life. And at this point, my friends, things get really weird.

On one level, Ghost Of Guts Eater is a touching melodrama, and a neat slice of rural life. There are soap operatics, some gentle humour, and is for all intents good solid populist pulp, showing a sophisticated level of filmmaking technique. Then there are the love potions, jealous screaming harpies, giants guarding treasure, a half-naked wizard with a messiah complex, and a second flying head from a rival witch. Picture this: one flying head biting the other on the intestines. "She bit me in the ass!" the second head complains without a trace of irony or potty humour. If this doesn't make your head spin off your own neck, then you're already dead. I swear, it's movie moments like this I feel glad to be alive.

If you're new to this South East Asian madness, I welcome you to our humble abode. Sit comfortably cross-legged on the bamboo mat and pour yourself a steaming bowl of Ghost Of Guts Eater.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Schlock Treatment returns in January 2012

SCHLOCK TREATMENT returns to Briz 31 in January for a brand new thirteen week, programmed and hosted by Trash Video's Andrew Leavold.

We can promise you: the Brazilian Planet Of The Apes, the Turkish Exorcist, the North Korean Godzilla, Puerto Rican Sixties sleaze, Bollywood ninjas, more Nigerian godsploitation, demented German and Taiwanese kiddie matinees, Thai flying-heads-with-guts-attached, dwarves, zombies, outrageous gore and more!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Little Boy Blue, Tiny Terrestrial (1991)

Little Boy Blue, Tiny Terrestrial

Philippines 1991 colour

Director Eddie Reyes Writers Joey de Leon, Tony Y. Reyes

Cast Atong Redillas (Ato), Jay-Are Reyes (Empoy), Jen-Jen Otico (Neneng), Luz Fernandez (Lola Panchang), Joaquin Fajardo (Crocodile Danding), Joey de Leon (Professor Presto), Rene Requiestas (Stallone), Richie D’Horsie (Kuya Freddie)

We here at Schlock Treatment like to dig deep. Deeeeeep. So when Little Boy Blue suddenly appeared on the radar out of nowhere, believe me it’s an obscure one: a childish Catholic-laced E.T. ripoff from the Philippines, featuring a large blueberry that’s been molested by a Teletubby. Painful, infuriating, and at times like trying to stop a runaway bus with your teeth, it is nevertheless lovably dumb and, as far as lovably dumb Pinoy parodies go, one of the dumbest.

A squat stopper-shaped spaceship is spotted over Batangas, practically over the heads of three pre-teen cousins living in a simple nearby barrio. After their extended prayers – this is a devout Catholic family, you’ll need to remember - the kids beg their grandmother Panchang to tell stories of aliens – unbeknownst to them, at the same time the strange craft lands in the jungle. Aliens, says Panchang, descend from the heavens to punish the wicked. Just like Jesus, or, come to think of it, like Santa Claus. Back in the jungle the spaceship opens and out bounces a round rubber blue thing covered in squid suckers, and it takes refuge in the kids’ barn. The two young boys, Ato and the twitchy Empoy, are woken by strange sounds and uncover the creature scoffing the family corn. And what a creature it is: a head somewhere between a Gremlin and bloated Yoda atop a furry scrotum and Big Bird feet. And blue: all fluro blue, and emitting sounds like a mid-butchered veal (“Nyip! Nyip! Nyip!”). They argue over what to call it. “Do you remember the film ‘Extra Terrestrial?’” asks Ato. Tiny Terrestrial, they agree, or TT for short. “You’re just jealous,” they yell at their female cousin Neneng, the Drew Barrymore of this bizarre parallel universe, “that we have a TT [“titi” being Tagalog slang for penis] and you don’t.” They also settle on Little Boy Blue, and Neneng bonds with the gentle creature by pressing her finger lightly against TT’s rubber prong. It’s a touching scene in more ways than one, aiming for the emotion of Spielberg’s original but marred somewhat by TT’s high pitched bleating.

Of course you can’t have an ET clone without the meddling adult scientists, and at alien research group PAGNANASA’s headquarters, pretty young scientist Dr Delgado (and by young, I mean seventeen or eighteen) runs TT’s craft through a battery of tests. She believes the ship has emerged from inner space, not outer, and may be a relic from the lost city of Atlantis, thus proving the ranting renegade Dr Galileo’s theories correct. In Little Boy Blue there’s much discussion about Plato, and how the destruction of Atlantis is comparable to the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah. Huh? Don’t worry, it makes more sense soon… Dr Delgado’s limp-wristed boss Zarate orders her to head a team to capture the alien and perform further experiments. Her final analysis: TT is “gentle and very easy to love”. In another section of the scientific community the insane Galileo pays a goon squad headed by “Crocodile” Danding to kidnap Little Boy Blue and show the world just how sane he really is. Try to find the creature, however – TT spends much of his Earth time running around the village draped in a sheet or at the nearsighted Grandma Panchang’s house learning how Jesus is “God to all peoples”. Before you can say “Hail Mary” he’s kissing rosary beads and crossing himself, and in the film’s most uncomfortable moment, has a religious epiphany whilst comparing his own suffering to a wooden Jesus on a crucifix. You can imagine when he returns triumphantly to his home planet, like a round blue Conquistador, there are going to be conversions a-plenty.

A lame-duck Sunday School pantomime, or a Spielberg spoof that landed eight years too late? I’m having money each way. For all its inherent absurdity and ecumenical leanings, Little Boy Blue is a feeble-minded effort, a throwaway project clearly written on the hoof by the team who brought you the (ahem) superior Alyas Batman En Robin. I’d say it’s an easy bet that Joey de Leon and Tony Reyes don’t even remember flipping this cheap quickie off; at the time, writer/director Reyes and comedian Joey were the busiest creative unit in Filipino comedy, clocking in at around ten features each per year, and considered the top box office draw of 1989. Not everything they touch turned to gold, however, but they certainly give it the old Quezon City try, and for marquee value Joey phones in a cameo as PAGNANASA’s Professor Presto (he’s been peering at Venus – not the planet but his new secretary, fnyar fnyar). The usual suspects are rounded up and given their regulation two minutes of screen time: toothless and heartbroken Rene Requiestas is a barrio bum named Stallone who sees little blue monsters even before his first sip of Tanduay, and TVJ’s regular sidekick Richie D’Horsie strums a tasteful song about dying of cancer.

The film’s major flaws are its leaden pacing courtesy of director Eddie Reyes (son? Brother? Of Tony), its sledgehammer morality, and discomforting attempts at toilet humour aimed at an older demographic than its intended audience of under-tens. None of this is meant as harsh criticism, of course, and the gaping wounds are an essential part of its charm. When I use words like “unbearable”, I mean it with a father’s love for his hopelessly naïve and sugar-addicted infant. For me, I don’t know who’s more unbearable, and I love them equally and unconditionally – the child actor playing Empoy (another of the ubiquitous Reyes, this time Jay-Are), who delivers every line like he’s sleepwalking and trying to create static electricity by brushing both ears, or TT himself, the nyipping testicle betraying not a single emotion from under its rubber mat. His one discernable word – “Bye!” – comes not a moment too soon, and I for one wish Little Boy Blue so long, bon voyage, and thanks for the screaming.