Film Review: Biktima (1974)

FILMS - BIKTIMA

Release Date: June 23, 1974 (Philippines)

The Plot: – In a strange turn of events, Dolores (Vilma Santos) moves in to live with her grandfather, who has sole custody of her ever since her mother was imprisoned for the murder of Dolores’ father. Mystery unfolds as Dolores stays with her grandfather when members of the household are murdered one by one. Will Dolores escape the chaos unraveling around her or will she be the next victim? – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)

The Reviews: – Hired by Don Rafael Valdez (Joe Sison), Attorney Andrade (Leopoldo Salcedo) finally convinced Dolores (Vilma Santos) to live with her rich grandfather, Don Rafael. This is despite the warning of her aunt, Tiya Dadeng (Patria Plata) and the warning of her mother, Lourdes (Perla Bautista) who is in prison. She was framed-up and wrongfully convicted of her father’s death. When Dolores came to her grandfather’s mansion, one by one, people are starting to die. This includes her grandfather’s young wife (Elizabeth Vaughn); Monica Valdez (Celia Rodriguez); Magda (Divina Valencia); the gardener (Yoyoy Villame); and Marita (Helen Gamboa). By the time the last victim died, the surprise killer was expose, the killer was Dolores. She tried to revenge her mother’s imprisonment and her father’s death. It was also revealed that her aunt’s husband (Bert Le Roy Jr.) was the one who killed her father. Her father tried to rape their grandfather’s nurse, Marita (Helen Gamboa), she fought hard and stabbed her father. Bert Leroy Jr. framed-up Dolores’ mother who was the first person on the scene of the crime. In exchange for his silence he blackmailed Marita with sexual favors. Marita didn’t know that Dolores’ father was still alive but Leroy finished the job by stabbing him more.

Written by Jose Flores Sibal with writing credit from the film’s lead star, Vilma Santos, Biktima was surprisingly watchable. Compared to other Vilma Santos films that Nilo Saez directed like Kampanerang Kuba, he did a convincing job in ironing out the many characters of the film (maybe except for Divina Valencia’s role who was one of the first to die). This is perhaps due to the excellent cast. The one who stands out more were Celia Rodriguez and Helen Gamboa. Both gave subdued performances. Edgar Mortiz’ role as assistant investigator was just to appeal to the loyal festival followers of Vi and Bot. By this time, it was clear that Vilma’s career are heading upward while Mortiz was heading to a different path. The ending of the film, showing a bald Vilma Santos in preparation for her demise was the film’s dramatic highlight.

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Filmography: Now And Forever (1973)

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Basic Information: Directed: Ishmael Bernal; Cast: Vilma Santos, Edgar Mortiz, Tommy Abuel, Mercy Pantamaria, Lorli Villanueva, Ernie Zarate, Buth Josue, Jaime Asensio, Ed Villapol, Tony Carrion, Carmen Jiongco, Chito Guerero, Chanda Romero, Elizabeth Vaughn, Randy Robledo; Executive producer: Espiridion Laxa; Cinematography: Benjamin Lobo

Plot Description: No Available Data

Film Achievement: Total Number of Bernal directed films = 8 (Broken Marriage, Dalawang Pugad Isang Ibon, Good Morning Sunshine, Ikaw ay Akin, Inspiration, Now and Forever, Pahiram ng Isang Umaga, Relasyon)

Film Review: “…By late 1969, movie producers had been tapping a Vilma Santos-Edgar Mortiz love team. Edgar was a Tawag ng Tanghalan winner. They started to be together in the movies, My Darling Eddie (1969) and The Jukebox King (1969)…In 1970, the love team of Vilma Santos and Edgar “Bobot” Mortiz was officially launched in the movie Young Love, together with the another popular love team during that time, Nora Aunor and Tirso Cruz III. The Vi and Bot love team went on to do 14 more movies in 1970—The Young Idols, Songs and Lovers, Sweethearts, Sixteen, Love Letters, Love is for the Two of Us, Mga Batang Bangketa, My Pledge of Love, Renee Rose, Baby Vi, Because You Are Mine, Edgar Loves Vilma, From the Bottom of My Heart, and I Love You Honey. All did well at the box-office…” – Rommel R. Llanes (READ MORE)

“…Noong Dekada ’70, ang mga young stars ay kailangang marunong kumanta dahil yun ang uso kaya naman nagtayo ng sariling recording company ang nasirang manager ni Vi na si William Leary dahil ayaw niyang pahuhuli sa uso ang kanyang alaga. Ilan sa mga naging recording artists ng WILEARS RECORDS bukod kay Vi ay sina Edgar Mortiz, Ed Finlan, Sahlee Quizon, Hilda Koronel at Esperanza Fabon. According to Vi, kapag nagrerecord siya ng kanta ay nakatalikod siya sa dingding ng recording company at si Bobot ang umaalalay sa kanya. Ang SIXTEEN, na sinulat ni Danny Subido ang unang recording na ginawa ni Vi at ito ay flipsided by It’s So Wonderful To Be In Love. Ang SIXTEEN ay agad naging gold record at dahil dito ay gumawa ng pelikula ang Tagalog Ilang Ilang Productions, ang home studio ni Vi at ito ay ginawa nilang pamagat katambal si Edgar Mortiz. Hindi nyo naitatanong, muntik nang manalo si Vi bilang most promising singer sa AWIT AWARDS noong early ’70s…” – Alfons. Valencia (READ MORE)

“…The loveteam of Edgar Mortiz and Vilma Santos endured a stiff competition from teeny bopper love team of Nora Aunor and Tirso Cruz III and came up with equal success with string of hit films during the musical era of the 70s. Together they did forgettable but commercial hits and also some hints of the years to come to Vilma Santos’ long career. The most notable one: Dama De Noche. Total Number of films with Vilma Santos – 25 (Young Love, Teenage Jamboree, Songs and Lovers, Renee Rose, My Pledge of Love, Mga Batang Bangketa, Love Is for the Two of Us, I Love You Honey, From the Bottom of My Heart, Baby Vi, Love Letters, The Wonderful World of Music, The Sensations, The Young Idols, Sweethearts, Sixteen, Leron-Leron Sinta, Edgar Love Vilma, Don’t Ever Say Goodbye, Dama de Noche, Anak ng Aswang, Because You Are Mine, Kampanerang Kuba, Kasalanan Kaya, Karugtong ang Kahapon…” – RV (READ MORE)

“…The following year, Santos made fourteen films, mostly forgettable musicals. It was also a year where her benefactor started to positioned her as more of a film actress than a singing film star. The results was successful experiments that showcased her comedic ability (Ang Kundoktora), screaming action stunts (Takbo Vilma Dali) and dramatic capability (Dama De Noche). Her followers was delighted when she earned her first acting recognition the next year receiving the FAMAS best actress via Dama De Noche. Most of her films in 1972 were directed by Emmanuel Borlaza however, she was able to do one film with Ishmael Bernal, “Inspiration” with the late Jay Ilagan, one of her regular film partner. According to Bernal, the film wasn’t as successful as what he expected, as the film flopped. Aside from Inspiration, Bernal did two other films, El Vibora (starring Vic Vargas and Boots Anson Roa) and Till Death Do Us Part (starring the young Hilda Koronel and Victor Laurel). 1973 turned out to be a banner year for Vilma Santos as she emerged on top with box office hits one film after another. Nine films altogether that featured her in different genres (comedy – “Tsismosang Tindera;” fantasy – “Maria Cinderella,” “Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe” and ”Ophelia at Paris;” action/fantasy – “Wonder Vi,” “Lipad, Darna, Lipad,” and “Darna and the Giants;” horror – “Anak ng Aswang” and teenybopper – “Carinosa” and “Now and Forever”). While Vilma was productive Bernal, like the past two years did only two films, one was the comedy fantasy starring television host and comedian Ariel Ureta in a spin off of Superman, “Zoom, Zoom, Superman!” and “Now and Forever” the film that reunited him with Jay Ilagan and Vilma…” – RV (READ MORE)

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Filmography: Ang Hiwaga Ni Maria Cinderella (1973)

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Basic Information: Directed: Emmanuel H. Borlaza; Cast: Vilma Santos, Jay Ilagan, Blanca Gomez, Geena Zablan, Janet Clemente, Ike Lozada, German Moreno, Jannie Frias, Jingle, Winnie Santos, Maricel, Jonjon Salvador, Mary Rose Junco, Jerry Jackson, Dondon Nakar, Florence Aguilar, Romeo Miranda, Max Alvarado, Matimtiman Cruz, Joseph Sytangco, Elizabeth Vaughn; Original Music: Tito Arevalo; Cinematography: Tommy Marcelino

Plot Description:   Filipino version of Cinderella.

Film Achievement:   “…Jay Ilagan and Vilma Santos did twelve films with commercial success except for one, their most critically acclaimed film, Sister Stella L. Total Number of films with Vilma Santos – 12 (Inspiration, Ang Konduktora, Tsismosang Tindera, Ang Hiwaga ni Mariang Cinderella, Tatlong Mukha ni Rosa Vilma, Paano Ba Ang Mangarap, Sister Stella L, Coed, Leron Leron Sinta, Ito Ang Pilipino, Remembrance, Karugtong Ng Kahapon)…” – RV (READ MORE)

“…Borlaza gave Vilma Santos her very first best actress, winning the 1972 FAMAS for via Dama De Noche. He is also credited in narrowing the popularity gap between her and the musical era’s darling of the 70s, Nora Aunor. Total Number of Films in our list of VSR’s Top 50 films = 4 (#10 Lipad Darna Lipad 1973, #32 Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe 1973, #48 Darna and the Giants 1973, #49 Dama De Noche 1972)…” – RV (READ MORE)

Film Review: “……Besides teaming up with Edgar Mortiz during her teen years, Vilma Santos also starred and appeared in many movies opposite other leading men…Jay Ilagan — Inspiration (1972), Ang Konduktora (1972), Tatlong Mukha ni Rosa Vilma (1972), Tsismosang Tindera (1973), Ang Hiwaga ni Maria Cinderella (1973)…” – Simon Santos (READ MORE)

“…His films lack the arthouse style and social relevance that critics loves most in a Brocka or Bernal films but who cares about the critics when the paying public loves them. And the producers demand his service, from Doc Perez of Sampaguita Pictures, Atty. Esperidion Laxa of Tagalog Ilang Ilang Productions and later on, Vic Del Rosario of Viva Films and Lily Monteverde of Regal Films. Clearly, his films exists with one purpose, to entertain the masses not to depress or remind them with the country’s sad fate of economy or the below poverty line lives of many. The success of the Vilma-Borlaza films gave Vilma Santos versatility and preparation to a more serious acting career. It also narrowed the popularity gap between her and the musical era’s darling of the 70s, Nora Aunor. These are perhaps, the most significant contributions of Emmanuel Borlaza to Vilma’s career. Vilma who was considered only second to Nora couldn’t matched her singing talent and so, Borlaza countered this lack of singing with films that showcased Vilma’s acting versatility…” – RV (READ MORE)

Filmography: Dyesebel At Ang Mahiwagang Kabibe (1973)

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Basic Information: Directed, screenplay: Emmanuel H. Borlaza; Story: Mars Ravelo; Cast: Vilma Santos, Romeo Miranda, Divina Valencia, Mina Aragon, Rossana Marquez, Chanda Romero, Joseph Sytangco, Elizabeth Vaughn, Patria Plata, Lito Calzado, Ricky Valencia, Greg Lozano, Chris Santos, Dave Esguerra, Romy Luartes, Doming Viray, SOS Daredevils; Original Music: Tito Arevalo; Cinematography: Benjamin L. Lobo; Editing: Gervacio Santos; Art Direction: Honorato Dela Paz; Sound: Angel Avellana

Plot Description: A Mars Ravelo classic about a young mermaid named Dyesebel who lives in an undersea kingdom with other mermaids. They are outcasts, not wanted on earth, believing their presence is bad luck. But when she falls in love with a human being, she vows to do everything yto have legs and become a part of her earthly love’s world… even if it means risking her life. – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)

One of the most popular and best-loved creatures of local folk mythology, Dyesebel is reincarnated in the person of winsome superstar Vilma Santos. The mermaid is driven from the deep sea literally into the arms of a mortal ashore, the good-looking and moreno Fredo, played by singer, Romeo Miranda, whose fascination for her turns to love. Against all odds, their love for each other is put to a series of tests as they face a shocked and disbelieving human society and the dangers and intrigues in dry land. A funny, sad, suspenseful, wonderful and infinitely entertaining movie. Also starring Ike Lozada, Mina Aragon, German Moreno, and Divina Valencia. Produced by Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions under the direction of Emmanuel H. Borlaza. – Trigon Video

Film Achievement: 2nd Top Grosser of the 8th Manila Film Festival; Best Sound Recording – Angel Avellana

For the record: – “…FPJ Productions’ Ang Agila at ang Araw with a total gross receipt of P561,128 was adjudged the top grosser of the festival. Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions’ Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe, the first day top grosser came in close second with P499,463. Roda Productions’ Nueva Vizcaya was third with P461,405…” – VIdeo48 (READ MORE)

Film Review: “…On Darna and Dyesebel. “Darna (she did four Darna movies) and Dyesebel were very difficult to do. I wore body stockings underneath the Darna costumes. Just before I was presented to the press in my Darna costume, Douglas Quijano, Alfie Lorenzo and William Leary convinced me that the body stockings didn’t look good and there was nothing to be afraid of because, I had good skin. I took off the stockings and since then I wore the Darna costume without them. Dyesebel was harrowing. It took 10 people to help me into the costume and out of it. If I needed to go to the toilet, they created a hole on the costume to make my life bearable. When I did these movies, we weren’t as wired as we are today. In Darna, I was tied and lifted to simulate flying. It was physically punishing…” – Boy Abunda, The Philippine Star, July 31, 2009 (READ MORE)

In the 1973 Dyesebel movie, Dyesebel lives in an undersea kingdom of mermaids far from the land of humans because the humans believe that the mermaids are the cause of misfortune. Dyesebel fell in love with a male human being. In order to be with the man that she likes, she swore to find a way to be transformed into a female human being. In the movie, “Si Dyesebel at Ang Mahiwagang Kabibe,” the role of Dyesebel was played by Vilma Santos and Fredo was played by Romeo Miranda. – Jun B (READ MORE)

“…1973’s Dyesebel (aka Si Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe, or “Dyesebel and the Magic Conch”) is what would today be referred to as a reboot, with beloved Filipino star Vilma Santos taking over in the title role. Mars Ravelo would make 1973 a very busy year for Santos, as she had also made her debut as Darna that year, in Lipad, Darna, Lipad!, and would go on to complete a second Darna feature before the year was out. As did the Darna pictures, this Dyesebel benefits greatly from the undeniable raw charm of Santos, who, in place of Edna Luna’s ethereal glamour, provides a likeable and approachable portrayal of the mermaid heroine as a loveable and trouble prone naïf. This new Dyesebel, directed by Emmanuel H. Borlazza, takes even further than its predecessor the idea of the mermaids as something feared and reviled by the human world. This is illustrated in a scene where a group of them comes ashore only to be met by a maniacal, sword-and-pitchfork wielding mob. A graphically violent fight follows, with much blood spilled and many a fin brutally slashed (I think that would count as “HMV” for “Human on Mermaid Violence”, for those keeping track.) In addition to this bracing infusion of gore, Dyesebel also welcomes us to the 1970s with a generous display of boobs (none of them Santos’s) and an absurdly confident rolling out of bush league special effects. Among these last are a giant seahorse upon which Dyesebel and Fredo (Romeo Miranda) ride during a romantic interlude and an adorable giant octopus from which Dyesebel is saved by a helpful swarm of puppet electric eels…” – Todd, Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill! (READ MORE)

“…The mermaid character, presumably inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen classic fairy tale The Little Mermaid, was conceived by Mars Ravelo, serialized in Pilipino Komiks in 1952-53 and illustrated by Elpidio Torres. It has nothing to do at all with the 1938 Hollywood classic Jezebel (starring Bette Davis) except that the titles are soundalike. The first Dyesebel movie was made by Manuel Vista Production/Premiere Productions in 1953, with Edna Luna in the title role, directed by Gerardo de Leon. The leading man was Jaime dela Rosa as Fredo. If memory serves, Hollywood has so far done only two mermaid movies, Splash, with Darryl Hannah in the title role and Tom Hanks as co-star and an animated feature. Other actresses who have played Dyesebel include: Eva Montes in Anak ni Dyesebel (1964); Vilma Santos (1973); Alma Moreno in Sisid, Dyesebel, Sisid (1978); Alice Dixson (1990); and Charlene Gonzalez (1996). On TV, Marian Rivera played it, with Dingdong Dantes as leading man. In the ABS-CBN version, Dawn Zulueta will play Dyesebel’s mother with Sam Milby and Gerald Anderson as leading men. The Fredo character has been played by Romeo Miranda (with Vilma), Matt Ranillo III (Alma), Richard Gomez (with Alice) and Matthew Mendoza (with Charlene)…” – Ricky Lo, The Philippine Star, 10 Jan 2014 (READ MORE)

“…Aside from the three most popular characters from the pages of “Komiks,” Ravelo is also behind the superheroes Lastikman, Dragonna, Flash Bomba, Tiny Tony, Trudis Liit, Kapitan Boom, and Jack and Jill, among others. Since her 1947 comicbook debut, Darna has been played by over 15 different actresses in TV and films, with Vilma Santos’ 1970s portrayal considered to be the most iconic take…” – ABS-CBN News, 12 Jan 2014 (READ MORE)