Thursday, October 24, 2013

From the Philippines: Jade Castro's gay hoot, REMINGTON and the CURSE of the ZOMBADINGS

Better be clear about this upfront: The best way to appreciate (or for some, to merely tolerate) this new movie from the Philippines, REMINGTON AND THE CURSE OF THE ZOMBADINGS, is to already have some understanding or appreciation of this country's culture, or to have seen a few Filipino films (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, for instance), or to have an interest in gay culture from countries other than your own. (Another reason: the gorgeous kid with the great body who appears on the poster above.) Any one of these will ensure that the film goes down a bit easier; all four will probably make the movie a must-see. If, however, you lack any interest in the Republic of the Philippines, its movies or gay culture, then this one is probably a best-to-avoid. For the record, I enjoyed it and laughed a good deal, but my spouse (we're gay, by the way) could easily have lived without the experience.

I also admit that a number of Philippine films I've taken in, particularly those with a gay bent, are given to the style of acting you might best describe as wide-eyed and open-mouthed (yes, just like that cute kid --Mart Escudero is the actor who plays the titular Remington-- shown above). A little of this goes a long way, but fortunately Mr. Escudero is playing an ostensibly straight young man who -- due to a curse placed upon him in childhood that only comes to life in his young manhood -- turns him overnight into a raving queen, who then tries to somehow disguise what is going on so that his friends, not to mention his new girlfriend, won't notice. This makes for fairly funny stuff, and were the writer/director Jade Castro (above), along with co-writers Raymond Lee and Michiko Yamamoto and the various cast members able to really spin this all into clever, well-timed jokes with a more professional gloss, the movie might have flown.

As it is, it hops and stops and stutters and starts but never quite takes off the way you'd like. It seems more a big-budgeted home-movie than anything else. But even these have their charms. And so it with Remington and the Curse of the Zombadings. What's a Zombading? The term is never specifically defined, but I would guess it's a gay zombie, Philippine style. Other than that aforementioned curse, the story whisks us away to the small town in which Remington lives where one of the citizens has stolen a student's science fair invention of a raygun (below) that can tell you if your goat is gay. (Yes: Don't ask. But I think this is part of the culture thing. Goats are evidently big in little country towns.)

Anyway, someone has stolen this raygun and is using it to wipe out all the homosexuals in town. Some of the funnier moments come when the raygun is not pointed at the typical over-the-top hairdresser but instead begins to target the more closeted gays. (Does this movie teach us tolerance, as well as the need to be who we are? You bet.) And then, yes, those dead gays return to life as Zombadings (below). And can they dance! I think you may be coming 'round to the kind of silliness this movie conveys. And if you can lose a few critical inhibitions, you might just start giggling, along with some others of us.

Or, you might, like my companion, roll your eyes heavenward, rise from the sofa and say, "Excuse me, dear: I'm going to do the dishes." Yet there are some small-but-tasty moments scattered throughout, especially when Remington can't help himself and begins coming on to his best friend (below). It's soon clear that sexuality and friendship may be a bit more encompassing that certain of these characters had imagined.

As I say, if you're interested in the culture of elsewhere, particularly the gay variety, there are reasons to watch, when Remington and Curse of the Zombadings -- from Ariztical Entertainment, in Filipino and Tagalog with English subtitles and running a little too long at 96 minutes -- opens in New York City (at the Quad Cinema this Friday, October 25) and in Los Angeles (at Laemmle's Noho 7 on November 8). Eventually, too, you'll be able to get it on DVD and/or VOD.

The photos above are from the film itself, 
with the exception of that of Mr. Castro, 
which comes courtesy of

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