Monday, March 30, 2015

Honourable Mention: The ABCs of Death 2

The 2014 released second instalment of the clever anthology series, which started with the ABCs of Death, this followed the same premise of 26 directors each with a letter of the alphabet, a small budget and creative freedom. The result is less disturbing than some of the segments in the first film but still with moments that are head-scratchingly bizarre.

A couple of outstanding sections are the segments Z is for Zygote, C is for Capital Punishment and J is for Jesus. There was a quirky cameo from Goth singer Voltaire in the Larry Fessenden directed N is for Nexus and there were zombies in some segments. However it is the section I is for Invincible that we are looking at here at TMtV.

the "kids"
This is an aswang piece, though the A word is not actually mentioned in film, and was directed by Erik Matti, who is no stranger to the aswang having acted in the film Yanggaw and directed TikTik: the Aswang Chronicles. The latter film was absolutely thick was various aswang lore and this short has an unusual piece of traditional aswang lore in it.

Killing Mama
The film starts with four adult children, Caloy (Jun Urbano), Quinito (Tommy Abuel), Conchita (Arlene Muhlach) and Carmela (Yayo Aguila), trying to kill their Mama (Sherry Lara). To this effect they are shooting and stabbing the old woman who is tied to a chair and they are doing this because they want to inherit her estate. The old woman, however, just isn’t dying.

flaming Mama
She says that if they want the inheritance they must eat *this*, this being an ornate stone on her tongue. None of the children want the stone and argue about who should take it. Meanwhile Mama bemoans the fact that she is 120 years old and insists that they take the stone and let her die. In response they set her on fire.

The fire does not kill her but it does destroy her bonds and so she totters towards her children. The response is to remove her head with a cleaver and yet the head still lives. One of the children picks up the head and starts to berate it and the head spits the stone out and into her mouth – allowing the old woman to finally die. So, how exactly is this aswang?

the inheritance
The stone clearly represents her aswang nature or trait and the story itself reminded me of one of the folk tales in Maximo D. Ramos’ the Aswang Complex in Philippine Folklore, from which I’ll quote: “The uncle with whom he had lived was an aswang. His body was dead but he still breathed. This was because no one would receive the aswang trait. When his nephew agreed to inherit the trait, his uncle died.” Very much that is what we have within the story (though the daughter is forced to take the trait rather than agrees).

So, some nice aswang folklore lurking within the film. The imdb page is here.

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