Perfumed Nightmare

Written by Joe D on August 20th, 2007

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I saw this film when it was first released around 1978 or so, I believe it was at Film Forum in New York City. I heard how this Philipino guy just begged, borrowed and did whatever was needed to make it. Werner Herzog gave him some old film stock he had laying around. ( I think Wim Wenders did the same thing for Jim Jarmusch on his chef d’oeuvre Stranger Than Paradise) Francis Coppola released Perfumed Nightmare through his short lived but admirable Zoetrope Films.

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Baby, You Can Drive My Jeepney

The film is told from the point of view of Kidlat Tahimik, a young Philippino cat that drives a jeepney and worships all things American. Especially Rockets , American Space Penises that represent Progress, Power, The Future and specifically Werner Von Braun, the godfather of the USA space race, snatched from Nazi Germany at the end of WWII and chockful of experience from his V2 launches at Peenemunde. Kidlat even forms a Werner Von Braun fan club!

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1st Meeting of The Werner Von Braun Fan Club

But as the film progresses Kidlat grows disillusioned with “progress”, his innocent voice over expresses his doubts and finally he disbands the Fan Club. The film is shot on many different film stocks, Super 8, 16mm, color reversal, whatever Kidlat could get his hands on and it adds a stylistic edge that works for this project. It’s like the jeepney that he drives, these are made from left over jeeps from WWII and the ingenious mechanics transform them into fantastic creations and keep them running with baling wire, chewing gum, anything at hand. Here creativity is used instead of money, to me a sign of a good film, actually a good anything! There’s a circumcision scene that’s hard to watch ( In the Phillipines it’s performed at puberty in a ritualized fashion out in the jungle.)

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That’s gotta hurt!

Kidlat Tahimik is Tagalog for “Quiet Lightning” and that’s what this film is. A guy from out of nowhere creates a film from almost nothing and it rocks the World Cinema Scene.

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