Filmography: Darna vs. the Planet Women (1975)

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Basic Information: Directed: Armando Garces; Story: Mars Ravelo; Screenplay: Armando Garces; Cast: Vilma Santos, Rosanna Ortiz, Zandro Zamora, Bentot Jr., Eva Linda, Lita Vasquez, Liza Zobel, Diana Villa; Executive producer: Espiridion Laxa; Original Music: Carding Cruz; Cinematography: Amado De Guzman

Plot Description: She is just a simple woman- a lady gifted with disability that she cannot leave her crutch. Narda/Darna (Vilma Santos) is very much contented with her life – having the company of her little brother and their grandmother not to mention her someone special who already accepts and love her for who she is. She has a greatest dream of helping and touching the lives of many but buried that in her heart given the situation that she has. Who would imagine that she will be chosen as the saviour of the Mother Earth against the dangerous attempt of the aliens from other planet? She was chosen to be strong and powerful “Darna”, a local superhero whose role is to depend the people and stop the plan of invasion from women in another planet. They want to use the earth as the extension of their planet by killing its people especially the experts in all areas such as metal, nuclear, moral and others. Darna has to act and who knows how much she is going to sacrifice with the given MISSION… – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)

Film Achievement:   Vilma Santos’ third successful film as Darna.

Film Review: In this 1975 film (the 3rd in a 4 Darna film franchise), the story of Darna is rebooted as this new installment is NOT a continuation of the 1st and 2nd films. In this revamped version, Narda (Vilma Santos) is a cripple who dreams of accomplishing great things for the betterment of humankind despite her physical limitations. One day, she discovers her suitor (Zandro Zamora) paralyzed after having been attacked by a UFO. Together with her brother Ding (Bentot Jr.), she prays for help and offers to sacrifice herself for the sake of her suitor’s survival. A voice from beyond answers and sends her an enchanted amulet of power. The power of Darna contained within the magic pebble. With her newfound powers, she battles The Planet Women- Alien Amazons who are trying to transport the Earth to their own star system. – Eric Cueto, Mars Ravelo’s Darna (READ MORE)

“Due to the Internet, one day soon I’m sure information on all of the cinematic obscurities of the world will be available to us, but at the moment it’s still wonderful to uncover a country’s hidden pop culture hitherto unnoticed by the rest of the planet. Take Video48, a mind-shattering trip into the uncharted realms of Filipino cinema, featuring a menagerie of stills, posters and articles from films I never even dared to dream existed! I stumbled across home-grown super-heroes such as Mars Revelo’s Darna a few years back, and Eric Cueto’s fansite provided a wealth of information on her cinematic adventures, (whilst also revealing tantalising glimpses of her on-screen contemporaries), but I certainly hadn’t realised the extent to which comic book characters pervaded the Philippine big-screen. Chances are the country was second only to Turkey when it came to cinematic Super-heroes – Darna herself has starred in 14 films and two TV series, which certainly puts Wonder Woman to shame…Sadly most of these fantasy films are unlikely to have survived – the condition of the Vilma Santos’ early Darna movies is supposedly so wretched that a DVD release has been permanently canned, and ancient VHS copies of Darna & the Giants and Darna & the Planet Women are jealously guarded by the few collectors who salvaged them from rental shops. Just as in Turkey, these films were probably considered to be as disposable as the comic books on which they were based – but I for one would go ga-ga for a double bill of this years The Dark Knight with 1973’s Fight Batman Fight (fair enough, my brain might melt out of my ears afterwards, but what a way to go…” – Poptique (READ MORE)

Vilma Santos returns as the Pinoy Wonder Woman in the third of her four Darna films. This time around Narda is a plucky, somewhat disabled village girl who prays for justice and mercy in a world beset by pointless brutality, represented here by a gang of fairly unambitious local bullies. When her boyfriend Ramon (Zandro Zamora) is frozen by a mysterious ray from a UFO her prayers are answered in the form of a magic pebble which enables her to transform into Amazonian superbeauty Darna. She rescues her boyfriend, who is being used by a gang of female aliens, the titular (heh) Planet Women, as a source of information on all the world’s leading authorities on nuclear power, metallurgy, and, er, morality (all of whom live within comfortable abducting distance of Darna’s village in the arse-end of nowhere) so that they, the Planet Women, can kidnap these elite thinkers and use their knowledge to steal the planet Earth and take it to their overpopulated solar system of Arko Eris. – (READ MORE)

“…Darna may be easily dismissed by many as a cheap Pinoy knockoff of Superman or Wonder Woman, but there’s much more to her. Since her first appearance in the burgeoning komik industry in 1947, she captured the imagination of the komik-reading underclasses: Narda is an innocent country lass who has superpowers thrust upon her transforming her into the costumed Darna to protect the world, the Philippines, her village, her family, and most of all, her younger brother Ding. It’s wish fulfilment for girls, pure cheesecake for boys, and after sixty years – her first film appearance was in 1950, the last TV series three years ago – Darna is still a much-revered staple of Philippines pop culture. Vilma took over the role in 1973 in a crazed, Mad Magazine style satiric reimagining called Lipad, Darna, Lipad, and over four appearances in the next seven years, would arguably become the actress most associated with the role. Darna vs The Planet Women from 1975 is the most fun and certainly most colourful of Vilma’s stint, thought strangely enough it’s as if the previous Darna adventures had never occurred, or had slipped into a Black Hole where most of the Philippines’ lost cinema must also exist. Instead we are reintroduced to Narda, unremarkable country lass with a heart of gold and serious limp. Her two great loves, it seems, are chubby little brother Ding, and her awkward beau Ramon. An altercation with the local goons ends with a flying saucer suddenly appearing over a field, and Ramon is beamed aboard. It’s a ship piloted by Elektra (Rosanna Ortiz), blue leader of a pack of painted space floozies clad in primary colour wigs, shower caps and AM radios strapped to them. Narda feels bad about losing her guy to a space sorority, but a kindly voice tells her to stop worrying, and plonks a magic stone in her lap. On the cry of “Darna!”, Narda transforms from unglamorous barrio girl – unassuming, with very little makeup – into gaudy statue of pure womanhood. No wonder poor Ding’s eyeballs are almost dropping to the ground like marbles. The Planet Women, it seems, are here to study human behaviour- whether they like it or not – and are intent on kidnapping the world’s leading scientists. Not so, says Darna, who flies into their space ship to play the jealous girlfriend bit. She gets back Ramon, but it won’t be the last time the Planet Women gain control over the weak-willed boob. It’s a real battle of minds: desperate kung-fu kicking Star Slappers against the self-righteous Darna in an escalating series of face-offs and showdowns for the ultimate prize – the fate of the Universe itself…” – Andrew Leavold (READ MORE)

“…Darna Vs. The Planet Women is the third film in the franchise where Santos was the superhero. The first two were Lipad! Darna! Lipad! and Darna And The Giants. Currently, I have three of the four Santos as Darna films, which includes the Darna At Ding film minus the Lipad! Darna! Lipad! movie. And the funny thing about this is that I am not even a Darna fan. Maybe I just enjoy the nostalgia and novelty behind it. Though I reasonably enjoy the acting in the seventies. Fairly slow and predictable but can still be digested without the help of any liquid. With the seventies having the bombardment of local films, a movie like this can tell that this was actually immortalized and currently sold to the public meaning a few or a lot of people could’ve clamored for such film, though this point greatly contradicts to my earlier statement, my apologies. But I am sticking to my own disagreement. It would’ve been nice if this film garnered cult status. You can really see the similarities of the villains of this film versus the villains in Zsazsa Zaturnnah. It feels that the creator of Zaturnnah took something from this fantasy film and eventually understands that he or she could’ve paid homage to this movie. Such film is a definite for the Darna fan and anyone who adores screaming drag queen outfits and such…” – Pinoy Film Zealot (READ MORE)

Most Popular Darna “…Ding, ang bato!” yells Narda, the adolescent country lass, to her younger brother. Ding obligingly hands over a shiny pebble which Narda swallows to turn herself into the vivacious super-vixen, Darna. Mars Ravelo’s superheroine, clad in crimson bikinis and knee-high stiletto boots, may perhaps be the most famous local fantasy character given life on the silver screen. Though not actually considered a career-defining role, portraying Darna is, nonetheless, highly-coveted. Darna has been portrayed by no less than nine actress in 12 feature films. Rosa del Rosario first wore the scarlet two piece in May 1951. She reprised the role after three months. Liza Moreno, Eva Montes and Gina Pareno followed her. The inter-galactic pebble found its way to Vilma Santos’ throat in 1973 via the flick “Lipad, Darna, Lipad!” Santos, now a two-term mayor of Lipa City in Batangas, is probably the most popular Darna, with a total of four movies in a span of seven years. Some of these were made known to younger generations through afternoon airings on television in the late ’80s. Maybe RPN 9 should do that again so that even younger generations can marvel at Darna’s greatness, albeit antiquated, in such movies as “Darna and the Giants” and “Darna vs. the Planet Women…” – Armin Adina, Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 06, 2003 (READ MORE)

Darna is Not a ‘Rip-off” of Wonder Woman – “…Because of the character’s immense popularity, several other studios would license the character and produce more Darna movies throughout the next several decades. After Rosa Del Rosario, Vilma Santos (who first played Darna in 1973’s “Lipad, Darna, Lipad”) would be the most well known and the most in demand to play the character. She starred in a total of 4 Darna movies. Her 4th and final one being in 1980. For years after that, no more Darna movies were produced…” – Raffy Arcega, Comic Book Movie (READ MORE)

Intergalactic Warrior – “…There were comic-inspired franchises that never travelled beyond their own borders, such as the Darna series from the Philippines in the 1970s – she was an intergalactic warrior disguised as an earthling – and which helped actress Vilma Santos turn the fame she achieved into a political career that still sees her serving as governor of Batangas province…” – Matt Scott, South China Morning Post, 20 April, 2014 (READ MORE)