Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Shake Rattle and Roll X – review

Directed by: Topel Lee & Mike Tuviera

Release date: 2008

Contains spoilers

The Shake Rattle and Roll series are a long running series of films in the Philippines. This entry to the series is made up of three films, no portmanteau section, two directed by Mike Tuviera and one by Topel Lee. What is somewhat unusual is the length of the segments, each coming in at 40-45 minutes. The film is in Filipino and Tagalog, flipping into English on occasion.

The second story, Class Picture, is the Lee directed effort, a tale of missing students and creepy nuns. The third tale, Nieves, is more fantasy than horror and is about engkantos, a Filipino elven creature. It is the first section, Emergency, that concerns us.

The film is based on the Filipino vampire type the aswang. It starts with a woman (Mylene Dizon), clearly pregnant, running through the forests. It seems, at first, that she is pursued by a man/creature (Wendell Ramos). Meanwhile Jay (J.C. de Vera) is a paramedic driving his ambulance. His friend Dennis (Janus del Prado) has come along for the ride. The woman stumbles into the road and, though he breaks, it appears he has hit her – though that wouldn’t explain the deep lacerations in her face. He takes her to hospital but the man is clearly tracking them.

In the hospital we meet Doctor Sarah Escano (Roxanne Guinoo). A patient is going on about someone who is going to kill them all and that she escaped. The woman is brought in and they cannot get a needle into her flesh. The patient sees her and gets a whip from his pocket. He whips the woman and the weal on her arm smokes, but he is pulled away and suffers a cardiac arrest. It is clear that Jay and Sarah had a relationship.

The woman is taken for an ultrasound, to check on her baby. The ultrasound causes some sort of noise that causes everyone pain whilst the baby looks directly to monitor (as it were) with shining eyes. The baby literally drops from the mother and is dead. Sarah touches its mouth and cuts her finger on the sharp teeth. As the baby is taken to the morgue and the mother is taken for X-Rays, Sarah goes to the toilet and is sick – she is pregnant herself.

Sarah sees the hospital administrator for advice. The x-rays of the woman are odd and the blood has separated in ways human blood should not. The mother awakens however and goes to get her baby. We see her at one point walking a corridor and her reflection has wild writhing hair. She meets her aswang husband and he calls their brethren from the forests. Humanity has killed his child and they will pay.

From then on in we are in a survival horror with overtones of the standard zombie outbreak, except that we are dealing with aswangs. We discover that saline burns the aswang, because of the salt, and they not only have long tongues but can use them to entrap their prey and pull them to where they want them. It isn’t clear what the whip is made of but it is effective when it comes to injuring them.

The father and mother are hunting down Jay and Sarah, as she blames Jay for the death of her baby (though one suspects the patient who we see whipping her mercilessly, during a flashback to the events in the forest, had more to do with the death). At one point Jay manages to electrocute the two but they are only stunned. They have a true form, that they eventually take, which is a major disappointment as the skin effect is rather rubbish (it’s clearly a costume).

As well as being injured by saline, they are hurt and warded by holy items. Thus Dennis helps get a priest, Fr. Miguel (Cris Daluz), to the water storage so he can bless him. In a story spoiling reveal, this leads to the blessed water being released through sprinklers and killing the aswangs that way. It is death by sprinkler but not as cheesy (as it is blessed water) as the equivalent scene was in Satanic Rites of Dracula.

Unfortunately there is some bad acting in here and it was unnecessary as we didn’t need that much characterisation – and certainly not the Sarah and Jay romance. The idea of the aswang was fun enough and raises the film, despite some of the cheese. Ignore the meaningless drama and concentrate on folks trapped by an exotic form of vampire in a hospital. 4 out of 10 for the vampire section only.

The imdb page is here.

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