Monday, October 23, 2017

Super Inday and the Golden Bibe – review

Director: Michael Tuviera

Release date: 2010

Contains spoilers

So the word Bibe in Tagalog means duck – we’ll get to that in a second. The reason for looking at this film, in the first instance, was that it featured a tiyanak. However the role is minor within the film, almost a fleeting visitation, and I was just going to go for an Honourable Mention. But then it turned out that our main antagonist is also an energy vampire of sorts.

The film itself is a comedy, quite juvenile in tone but with elements perhaps making it unsuitable for too young an audience. It is certainly an oddity, when viewed through Western eyes, and is a uniquely Filipino take on the superhero. It is also a remake or reimagining of a 1988 film of the same name.

Monster face
So, the film starts with two young children in the forest playing. They see a young girl (Elijah Alejo) sleeping under a tree in a laundry tub. When they approach her she awakens and asks if they know the way to heaven. They make signs showing that they think she’s a tad touched and she turns on them showing her monster face. They leg it. Now the girl is perhaps a little older than the way we have seen the tiyanak portrayed in other vehicles – and this has a plot necessity as a baby wouldn’t be able to speak and interact. Later, in a macabre little twist, we hear that the laundry tub was what the mother of the tiyanak (who has no name) used to bury her.

the golden egg
The tiyanak sees a shooting star heading straight for the earth and hides behind her tub. The thing crashes and is an egg that hatches and reveals a duck (of the title) that transforms into Goldie (John Lapus, Shake, rattle & Roll X, Shake, Rattle and Roll 12 & Shake Rattle & Roll XV). Goldie introduces himself as an angel who has been naughty and cast down from heaven – he has a mission to fulfil before he can return. He turns back into a duck and goes for a rest.

Marian Rivera as Inday
A girl emerges from the water in a slow-mo, hair flicking montage. She is Inday (Marian Rivera, also Shake Rattle & Roll X). The reason this is done is less exploitative and more for comedy value as later we see Goldie emerge in exactly the same way spoofing the entrance into the film of the main protagonist. Inday comes across as quite sassy and goes to her home, only to find her mother collapsed. Mom uses her dying breath to tell Inday that she isn’t her real mother. Her mother (Cherry Pie Picache) and her were maids at a mansion and her mother left when pregnant. A year later Inday was abandoned at the gates of the mansion and she has brought the girl up as her own. She dies.

Super Inday
Goldie reveals to the tiyanak that the mission is to pass on superhero powers to Inday – but she has to pass a series of tests she doesn’t know she is taking. Meanwhile another superhero, Amazing J (Jake Cuenca), is waging a war against giant possessed toys and zombie like henchmen who are stealing children. Inday herself want to go to Manila to try and find her natural mother and gets a job at the mansion where her mother worked.

energy vampirism
I want spoil the main story but I did say that the main antagonist (Mylene Dizon, also Shake Rattle & Roll X) is an energy vampire. We see her a wizened old hag who has a child on the sacrificial altar she has set up and draws the energy from the child making herself young again. We later discover that she has been around since 1898 and her spectral allies are quick to point out that each child will only bring about a temporary blooming of her own youth.

John Lapus as Goldie
As for our tiyanak, well other than an occasional monster face she does nothing monstrous or vampiric – then again, she is resolved to get to heaven. She is called a Child of Janice at one point. The film is silly but Marian Rivera is so personable that she carries the thing along and takes the audience with her. It does stray into unsatisfying maudlin for one section but if the horror films of the Philippines can often have over-the-top comedy characters then they have nothing on John Lapus in this, who is great fun. However, the film throws in the proverbial kitchen sink and perhaps it should have focused a little more. 3.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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