A virtual mind trip of surreal imagery and sight gags filtered through a late 70’s era Manila aesthetic, OMENG SATANASIA, starring the Filipino “King of Comedy” Dolphy, represented not only a minefield of 70’s inappropriateness and fashion, but a precious time capsule of an era’s collective humor, conflict, and outlook.
In the second Golden Age of Philippine Cinema, the 1970’s to the early 80’s, filmmakers Ishmael Bernal, Lino Brocka, Mike de León, Peque Gallaga and others created dark and socio-realistic dramas with weight and complexity that garnered international attention, and in some ways OMENG SATANASIA was a comic and somewhat experimental manifestation of that immensely creative and complicated time.
In a 65 plus year career that started as a dancer on stage during the Japanese occupation to eventually earning title of the “King of Comedy” of the Philippines, Dolphy (Rodolfo Vera Quizon) had one of the longest and most successful careers in Philippine film, television, stage, and music. He has received countless awards, starred in hundreds of films, a television sitcom that lasted 17 years, followed by another for 11 years, and eventually being awarded the Order of the Golden Heart by then president of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III in 2010. Dolphy passed away in 2012 firmly leaving an indelible mark on Philippine entertainment and popular culture. Amongst all of his works, before or after, OMENG SATANASIA is singular in its delirious mix of physical comedy, verbal jabs, and melodrama as it spins a Faustian yarn with camp and satire. It’s kitchen sink style filmmaking that was synonymous with RVQ Production films at the time and OMENG has all of it, including a satanic dance number, singing angels, perilous escapes, bawdy humor, and a rough and tumble fight scene. The film is a perfect canvas to display Dolphy’s artistic and comedic mastery. All of it conducted with great exuberance by then first time director, Frank Gray Jr. Gray does not hold back with visuals that may allude to Hieronymus Bosch paintings or Fellini’s Satyricon, with a little John Waters thrown in. The film is dusted with references to classic hollywood cinema and European avant garde films. The script by Jett C. Espiritu takes satirical aim at film industry archetypes and cliches, makes gleeful 1977 pop culture references, as well as formulating a parody of Dolphy’s own public persona.
Painstakingly restored from the Fujicolor 35mm print in the ABS-CBN Film Archives, OMENG SATANASIA is truly a unique and delightful oddity from the history of Philippine cinema and a fitting reminder of the comic and dramatic range of one of its key figures. —Joel Quizon
Co-presented with Community Partners: FilmAm Creative
Director: Jr. Frank Gray
Writer: Jet C. Espiritu, Roy Vera Cruz, Conde Ubaldo
Head of Film Restoration: Leo Katigbak
Manager of Film Restoration Operations: Jane Tenorio
Manager of Film Archives: Julie Galino
Cast: Dolphy, Babalu, Azenith Briones