Sunday, February 13, 2011

Heroes Of Blaxploitation: Cirio H. Santiago & Eddie Romero

Day Thirteen:

Black Action from The Philippines!

Cirio H. Santiago (1936-2008)
is the most famous director of exploitation to come out of the Philippines. In his prolific career he churned out around 75 films, even creating his own film studio called Premiere Studios. His 70's exploitation career started with producing several women in prison pictures shot in the Philippines like: The Big Doll House (1971), Women In Cages (1972), The Hot Box (1972) and The Big Bird Cage (1972. He directed Fly Me in 1973, which was about Stewardesses with who battle kung-fu baddies, of course.

Though he directed different kinds of films throughout the 70's His first real forray into Blaxploitation began with Savage (1973) starring the great James Iglehart. His most well known entry in the genre was the super fun T.N.T Jackson (1974) starring Jeannie Bell. Next was the Blaxploitation/Kung-fu mash-up Bamboo Gods An Iron Men (1974) and then the chicks in action flick Ebony, Ivory & Jade (1976) with the "ebony" part played by sexy playboy playmate Rosanne Katon. His other contributions to the genre include the entertaining The Muthers (1976) and Fighting Mad (AKA: Death Force (1978).

Even after the fade of the Blaxploitation genre, Cirio H. Santiago went full steam ahead and directed all kinds of exploitation and action flicks, entertaining and inspiring audiences and filmmakers to come. Cirio H. Santiago is a directing god.

And whilst I'm at it, why not give some love to Filipino filmmaker Eddie Romero (b.1924).

Eddie Romero is a well regarded director in his home country who has made all kinds of films that range from the artful to the extreme like his widely successful blood trilogy (Mad Doctor Of Blood Island, Brides Of Blood, Beast Of Blood). He turned to exploitation films after that success, and while he didn't direct much in the way of Blaxploitation, his efforts were certainly effective.
Eddie was a producer of The Big Doll House (1971) alongside Cirio H. Santiago and then in 1973 directed the excellent Black Mama, White Mama starring Pam Grier, Margaret Markov and Sid Haig. Black Mama is an entertaining riff on the Defiant Ones theme and one of my favorite films of the genre. Eddie directed Pam Grier once again in the horror flick The Twilight People (1973), then brought us the exploitation goodness of The Woman Hunt (1973) with Charlene Jones and later went on to make Savage Sisters (1974) with the foxy Glorida Hendry Cheri Caffaro and Rosanna Ortiz.

Eddie had since directed quite a few more films in his native Philippines as well as serving as a producer on Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. He also has the distinction of being in the Film Academy Of Motion Arts & Science hall of fame for having won 5 awards for best screenplay over his career. Eddie, like Cirio, has done his home country very proud.

Bonus Filipino Black action flick Directed by Efron C. Pinon:

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino with his Filipino director idols


Direct to Video Connoisseur said...

I love Cirio H. Santiago. You could do a series on women in prison films, or Vietnam War films, or post-apocalyptic future films, and he'd be featured there too. He was a total dude.

Karl Brezdin said...

Out of Cirio's blaxploitation stuff, I've only seen Fighting Mad and Bamboo Gods and Iron Men. I really loved the former but couldn't get past the clunky comedy in the latter. Either way, James Iglehart should've been HUGE after that run of movies. Guy had a great look, good timing, and some genuine charisma.

Cinema Du Meep said...

DTV Con-- That man did it all!

Karl-- Love James Iglehart. Totally agree.

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