LIFE EVERLASTING (1971) is a haunting film from Mar S. Torres.
Rosemarie Sonora, the mother of Sheryl Cruz (and the sister of Susan Roces), plays a dual role, the dead Nilda and the very much alive Cynthia. Ricky Belmonte, Sonora's real-life husband (from 1970-1986), plays Dante Rivera (I wonder whether actor Dante Rivero found this character name, his namesake, amusing or irritating), who falls in love with the corpse and confuses the pretty Cynthia for the ghost who appears to him in his dreaming and waking states.
The other characters (Pepito Rodriguez, Marifi, Alicia Alonso, a very young Rudy Fernandez, etc.) do nothing much except fret over and discuss Dante's seeming craziness. The ghostly scenes where Nilda actually has conversations with Dante is truly one for the books, evoking the creepy atmosphere of an earlier film, MARUJA (1967), which starred Sonora's sister Susan Roces. I don't know how often ghost movies were made during the three golden ages of Filipino cinema, but it was a treat for me to catch this small gem on TV. Ricky Belmonte (December 24, 1947 – October 3, 2001) is in his prime here.
Some earlier horror movies that were stylishly directed and truly scared the moviegoer include the very early ANG MULTO SA LIBINGAN (1931), with Jose Padilla, Jr; ANG SAWA SA LUMANG SIMBORYO (1952) with Jose Padilla, Jr, Anita Linda and Rita Gomez; MULTO SA OPERA (1954), with Leopoldo Salcedo, Nina Navarro and Elvira Reyes; HIWAGA SA BALETE DRIVE (1954) with Oscar Moreno and Rosita Noble; KULAY DUGO ANG GABI (1964) with Amalia Fuentes as a thirsty bloodsucking femme fatale; and DALAWANG DAIGDIG NA CARLOTA (1970), again with Amalia Fuentes in dual roles. The moody cinematography and eerie music of these classic horror films, directed on a low budget but with panache and elán, are a class of their own, and LIFE EVERLASTING fits right into this class. Ms Sonora makes for a lovely ghost!
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