Covering cinema from the highest of the highbrow to the lowest of the low-grade.
Monday, April 4, 2016
Retro Review: SILK (1986)
(US/Philippines - 1986)
This late 1980s video store fixture from Filipino exploitation icon Cirio H. Santiago is pretty crummy overall, but it's got plenty to entertain fans of bad movies. The plot--involving drug smuggling and stolen identities of dead Hawaiians--is hopelessly convoluted and not in a cool, BIG SLEEP kind of way. American actress Cec Verrell is Jenny "Silk" Sleighton, a badass Honolulu cop who plays by her own rules. Silk and her partners Yashi (Joe Mari Avellana) and Brown (Fred Bailey, who also wrote the screenplay) are taking on the drug ring of crime lord Austin (Peter Shilton) while dodging two assassins (including an overacting Nick Nicholson) in the employ of someone not what he's pretending to be. Silk also makes time for dalliances with her captain (Bill McLaughlin), though there's no nudity (bizarre for a B-movie released by Roger Corman) and Santiago seems to show little if any interest in the T&A potential. There's a lot of violence, gunplay, explosions, and chases, including one through a shopping mall with a theater that's showing Antonio Margheriti's THE ARK OF THE SUN GOD. Manila does a thoroughly unconvincing job of playing Honolulu, but even it gives a better performance that the lifeless, zombie-like Verrell. She's a terrible actress but can handle action sequences, even if she seems hindered by the cumbersome wardrobe with which she's been provided. There's one instant classic dummy death, ridiculous fake Hawaii license plates on all the cars (but hey, at least they made an effort!), and a rockin' would-be Pat Benatar theme song ("Don't push your luck too far/Silk's gonna getcha no matter where you are/You'll never get away/From Siiiiiiillllk!") and the supporting cast is a veritable Who's Who of Filipino exploitation all-stars: Avellana, Bailey, Nicholson, Henry Strzalkowski, Mike Monty, Joseph Zucchero, David Light, Don Gordon Bell, Berto Spoor, Eric Hahn, and the ubiquitous Vic Diaz.
Verrell next appeared in Santiago's EYE OF THE EAGLE and the Roddy Piper cult favorite HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN. Not surprisingly, she never became a star but did a ton of TV guest spots throughout the '80s and '90s (L.A. LAW, HUNTER, CHEERS, MATLOCK, THE X-FILES, WINGS, NYPD BLUE, MURDER SHE WROTE, ER) before retiring from acting in 2001. SILK was apparently successful enough somewhere to justify SILK 2 in 1989, also directed by Santiago but with Monique Gabrielle taking over the role of Silk. SILK is total garbage, cheaply made and horribly acted, not exactly essential Santiago but enjoyable viewing if you're familiar with his movies and know what to expect going in. (Unrated, 83 mins)