B movie-inspired fictionby Lysley Tenorio / June 20, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
Lysley Tenorio is a Filipino-American writer and the author of Monstress, which has been long-listed for the 2012 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. “I’m drawn to stories and events from history, any strange intersection between the Philippines and the western world,” Tenorio says. “‘Monstress,” the title story of my book, is based on the making of The Horror of the Blood Monsters, a 1970 B-movie, which was literally two films spliced together—a Filipino caveman movie and an American sci-fi flick. For all the whimsy of this scenario, it’s also made me wonder about the people involved—how foolish and desperate and hopeful they must have been, to believe in such an impossible thing.”
In 1966, the President of CocoLoco Pictures broke the news to us in English: “As the Americanos say, it is time to listen to the music. Your movies are shit.” He unrolled a poster for The Squid Children of Cebu, our latest picture for the studio. Our names were written in drippy, bloody letters: A Checkers Rosario Film was printed above the title, and my credit was at the bottom. Reva Gogo, it said, as the Squid Mother.
In its first week in release, Squid Children played in just one theater in all of Manila, the midnight show at the Primero. “A place for peasants and whores” the president said, tearing the movie poster in half. Then, speaking in Tagalog, he fired us.
From CocoLoco we walked home, and when we passed The Oasis, one of the English-only movie theaters that had been sprouting up all over Manila, Checkers threw a stone at Doris Day’s face: Send Me No Flowers was playing, and above the box office Doris Day and Rock Hudson traded sexy glances and knowing smiles. “All that overacting,” he said, “all that corny shit!” But those were the movies I longed for Checkers to make, where men fall in love with women, and tearful partings are only preludes to tearful reunions. Real life—that’s what I wanted to play, but my only roles were Bat-Winged Pygmy Queen, Werewolf Girl, Squid Mother—all those monstrous girls Checkers dreamed up just for me.