Sunday, March 25, 2018

Shake Rattle and Roll Fourteen: The Invasion – review

Director: Chito S. Roño

Released: 2012

Contains spoilers

The Shake Rattle and Roll series of films have been featured here before and are a long running series of horror anthology films from the Philippines. Often it’s been because of a creature from Philippine mythology that could be said to be analogous to a vampire.

In this case we get one of those and a western style vampire in the first segment, Pamana, and something that might have amounted to a ‘Vamp or Not?’ on its own in the second segment, the Lost Command. The final segment, Unwanted, is an alien invasion story.

vampire illustration
So looking at Panama first and we meet Donald (Herbert Bautista, Shake Rattle and Roll). Donald was a seminary but left that for a woman who has now left him and taken his daughter to the US – this was a depth of characterisation that was perhaps unnecessary but welcome. He and a few cousins, Benedict (Eri Neeman, Shake Rattle and Roll X), the awful Myra (Janice de Belen, Tiyanak & Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles) and Faye (Arlene Muhlach, Shake Rattle & Roll XV), are summoned to an uncles house as he has died and they are his last relatives. The Uncle was a filmmaker, who made horror films until he was ripped off and became a recluse.

tiyanak illustration
The will stipulates that they will get a large sum of money each, but after a month, if anyone dies in the meantime their money will be split between the survivors. In the meantime, they also have been given a large boxed illustration of four of the Uncle’s creations – they are to take one each. The creations are Rosalda (Snooky Serna), a ghost who must eternally play a piano or someone will die, Filomena (Dimples Romana), a creature that can turn into a hog but also uses her long, animate hair to kill her victims, a Tiyanak (Alex Bolado), which we have met before in the guise of a vampiric baby but in this case it was more like a miniature man with a gourd on his head, and finally Konde Nado (Fabio Ide), a vampire searching for Rosing, his lost love.

rising from coffin
Benedict throws the Filomena picture in the garbage as he leaves the house and Myra isn’t far behind, ordering her stepson, the very put upon Filemon (Gerald Pesigan), to throw the Konde Nado picture away as they return home. Only Donald, who knew his Uncle’s films, seems at all happy with his Rosalda picture. That night Benedict is attacked and killed by Filomena and Myra finds a coffin in her kitchen, from which Konde Nado emerges claiming that she is Rosing. He attacks her (presumably wishing to bite and turn her) but she manages to stake him with a US flag. He turns to smoke and then emerges from it as a bat.

tiyanak on the prowl
Myra has taken the opportunity to exit the house rapidly with Filemon and her daughter Gladys (Anna Vicente, Aswang & Shake Rattle and Roll 12) in tow, and then heads over to Faye and Donald. When they discover that Benedict is dead they head over to the Uncle’s house but the place seems deserted – the man that told them of the will’s stipulations is dead – and they become locked in. The creations reappear, including the tiyanak who comes after Faye. Only Rosalda seems benign, suggesting to Donald where he might find a clue to what is going on.

Fabio Ide as Konde Nado
Suffice it to say that there was a fifth creation, Buboy (Rain Prince Allan Quite), a devil boy with immense powers. He has created and is controlling the other creatures. Will they get out? I’m not saying… The second segment, the Lost Command, follows a platoon of special forces soldiers (the unruliest bunch, you could imagine actually) in the forest on a mission. Ultimately, they are looking for a group that some have suggested are monsters but could also be simply terrorists. In the material I have found about the film they are referred to as zombies – they are not zombies.

Ronnie Lazaro as a creature
So what are they? They are referred to as Aswang at one point – though we have to remember that the word is not only a species of monster but also an overarching genus of all the Filipino monsters. They look very zombiefied – though some apparently can look human and change/transform. They are superhumanly fast and strong and they are recruiting. Tainted food can turn someone, but so can a bite. They seem impervious to standard bullets (if you can hit them).

another creature
What we do get is a suggestion that virgin flesh tastes best but that, for full transformation, any human flesh must be consumed. However, when the focal character of the main segment, Sgt. Martin Barrientos (Dennis Trillo), is told this by head creature Col Palma (Roi Vinzon) he is also essentially told that blood is the primary element (rather than flesh) as blood is mentioned specifically. Barrientos is helped to escape by another creature (Ronnie Lazaro, Yanggaw & Shake Rattle & Roll 2K5), who throws Barrientos into a river as there seems to be something about the creatures not being able to cross water (although they must have done to attack the soldiers at the head of the segment).

the creatures
So, certainly zompires at the very least – they have intellect, increased physical prowess, and hunger for flesh (but specifically blood is mentioned). Running water appears to be apotropaic. I’d say they are enough to be classed as vampires. The question, however, is how good is the film? Shake Rattle & Roll can descend into silliness sometimes, and the shrill dislike between Myra and Faye in the first segment was a perfect example of this – too much melodrama slapped over a horror framework. That said I liked the premise. The Lost Command suffered from a lack of vehicle direction – the soldiers seemed without discipline (until turned, so maybe that was the point), the mission was vague and the monsters’ purpose so hidden as to be occult. However, I do have a soft spot for the series. 4 out of 10 is probably too generous but is bolstered by said soft spot and is for the two vampire segments.

The imdb page is here.

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