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13 Best Filipino Horror Movies of the Last 12 Years   6 comments

Halloween is right around the corner, and though the primary purpose of All Saints Day is to recognize those who are already there up with Him in the heavens, majority of those who await Halloween season are in for the horror stories that come during this period. Horror themed stories, shows, and movies seem to be a hit here in the Philippines, and with Asia being the region that produces the best horror films, the country has produced its fair share of horror themed films.

So for those who are looking for a Halloween themed movie playlist to marathon these next few days, here are thirteen titles that I  consider as the best of the best of the last twelve years and can recommend to you:

Director: Chito S. Roño
Stars: Maricel Soriano, Mika dela Cruz, Derek Ramsay
Story and Screenplay: Chito S. Roño, Aloy Adlawan, Chris Martinez
Release Date: April 11, 2009

While I’m no big fan of the over the top yet unpolished CGI effects in this one, I’m still pretty amused with the storytelling in the first two-thirds of the film. It focused on the different sayings, rituals, and legends from the Southern provinces of the country. I remember our helper telling me that she has experienced some of the scenes featured in the film like the group of black pigs that will suddenly block your way when traveling late at night which supposed to reincarantion of a group of aswangs. Doppelgangers were also present,  in the film, as well as the legends involving seeing a big submarine in a small creek or the simple sundo concept from the dead. If anything, this is the scary part of learning the rich culture of some parts in the country.

Director: Jose Javier Reyes
Stars: Rica Peralejo, Marvin Agustin, Dingdong Dantes
Story and Screenplay: Jose Javier Reyes
Release Date: December 25, 2003

This one is very reminiscent of that Keanu Reeves’s starrer The Gift about a woman’s psychic abilities. In here, Sara (Peralejo) has shown signs of possessing that gift of knowing if something bad will happen. The first sign of it will be a nose bleed which she has experienced way back when she was still a child. What I find creepy about this is that I experience nose bleed in a very frequent manner, so I somehow got paranoid after seeing this one. The film also benefits from having slick effects, cinematography, editing, and sound.


Director: Yam Laranas
Stars: Rhian Ramos, Marvian Agustin, Carmina Villaroel
Story and Screenplay: Yam Laranas, Aloy Adlawan
Release Date: November 30, 2011

The Road is one of those psychological thrillers more than your typical straight out horror film. With that said, it is very engaging and captivating enough to stay all through out the film. While there are particular loopholes within the storytelling of the film, its lavish technical effects make up for it. Also, watch out for Carmina Villaroel’s performance who was so good here and deserved some awards mention for her portrayal in the movie.

Director: Chito S. Roño
Stars: Vilma Santos, Janice de Belen, Pokwang
Story and Screenplay: Chito S. Roño
Release Date: July 25, 2012

The Healing certainly fits the bill of those Chito Roño horror film formula. However, with that said, this one goes deep into the Filipino habit of depending on healers for help. This one poses the man of science vs. man of faith concept that has been one of the age old questions that has every been asked. Also, among all of his past horror flicks, this one is the goriest and fits right up the crazy story that it presented in the movie.


Director: Richard Somes
Stars: Mark Anthony Fernandez, Tanya Garcia, Elizabeth Ororpesa
Story and Screenplay: Joven Tan
Release Date: December 25, 2005

After an eight year hiatus, in 2005, the Filipino film franchise Shake, Rattle, and Roll is back and has become the longest horror trilogy in Philippine cinema. While films in the series has been a hit or miss, there are still few solid gems in it like this one directed by Richard Somes. Lihim ng San Joaquin  is about a young newly-wed couple played by Mark Anthony Fernandez and Tanya Garcia who transfers into this rural town that is known to be inhabited by a manananggal and attracts all the men there and kills them one by one. This is a real breath of fresh air in terms of storytelling and production skills.


Director: Bobi Bonifacio
Stars: Maricel Soriano, Albert Martinez, Meryll Soriano
Story and Screenplay: Juan Miguel Sevilla, Bobi Bonifacio
Release Date: November 3, 2006

Numbalikdiwa has a richly interesting concept, probably one of the cleverest in recent years. The horror is not in your face; it’s more of something that will creep you out when you think about it. Here’s an interesting definition of what numbalikdiwa is as taken from the movie’s official blog site: An ancient, macabre ritual where the dead assumes the body of a living person. Like cannibalism, it involves the ingestion of the deceased’s ground meat andbones as part of the ritual. With the help of the Sasigloho, an ancient tribal deity, the dead assumes the identity of the living and continues to live his/her life accordingly, granting near immortality to the one who practices it. And yes, after seeing the film, I laid off eating any grilled street foods.

Director: Jerrold Tarog
Stars: Kathryn Bernardo, Louise delos Reyes, Sam Concepcion
Story and Screenplay: Maribel Ilag, Jerrold Tarog
Release Date: December 25, 2011

The 13th batch of the SR&R episode is one of its best. The first one, while bordering on fantasy territory, has good production values. The third one is relevant and also excellent. However, the best is the second one entitled Parola. Not only does it brag of a rich storytelling, it is also a perfect throwback to the early heydays of the said franchise. It represents the type of horror that Filipino moviegoers love, and it also contains exemplary production skills to boot. Definitely one of the best the whole series has ever produced.


Director: Chito S. Roño
Stars: Danilo Barrios, Vhong Navarro, Spencer Reyes
Story and Screenplay: Chito S. Roño, Roy Iglesias
Release Date: January 1, 2003

Probably one of the most prominent entries during its Metro Manila Film Festival batch, the follow up to the Spirit Warriors movie franchise is also the better movie between the two. I like how the movie has incorporated an interesting story to tackle referring to the “shortcut” that the spirits go to when they want to go to the world of the mortals. It also included a backstory at the start of the film that was shot perfectly in Vigan. I don’t see this in a lot of horror films list, but its inclusion is definitely merited here.

Director: Yam Laranas
Stars: Richard Gutierrez, Angel Locsin, Iza Calzado
Story and Screenplay: Roy Iglesias, Yam Laranas
Release Date: December 25, 2004

Sigaw is more popularly known as the horror flick that got an international version. But even with that distinction, I still prefer the original version about the bachelor who lives in an old building whose history seems to catch up with the present tenants. I feel that this is one of the underrated horror flicks of the past decade. People seem to catch on its appreciation with the film later on and not during its actual showing. And come on, a bloody Iza Calzado staring at your face? While Iza was every inch beautiful albeit the blood in her face, if that does not give you enough chills, then I don’t know what will.

Director: Richard Somes
Stars: Ronnie Lazaro, Tetchie Agbayani, Joel Torre
Story and Screenplay: Richard Somes, Dwight Gaston
Release Date: December 3, 2008

The Best Picture winner during the 2008 Cinema One Originals, Yanggaw definitely leans on its approach to manage the fight in you. With that said, the concept of a transforming aswang is something that is so popular and rich in this country’s culture, and that alone already deserves a slot in this list. The production design and cinematography, among all things, were also top notch. And lastly, the acting of the three actors (Ronnie Lazaro, Tetchie Agabayani, Joel Torre) is very convincing for that there’s no option left but to be swept along the whole ride.

Director: Jerrold Tarog
Stars: Carla Abellana, Sid Lucero, Nash Aguas
Story and Screenplay: Rona Lean Sales
Release Date: December 3, 2010

Another one from the Shake, Rattle, and Roll franchise, Punerarya follows the story of Diane (Carla Abellana) who home tutors two kids from the street’s funeral parlor. Unbeknownst to her, the family is hiding deep secrets that Diane unfortunately learned. The problem now is how she can escape unscathed from them. There are so many things that’s so commendable in this episode. Tarog’s approach in the direction is the primary reason for this episode to work, though. That, and Carla Abellana’s performance as the heroine  in the film. It definitely is deserving of the title as one of best Shake, Rattle, and Roll episodes of all time.

Director: Enrico Santos
Stars: Jodi Sta. Maria, Barbie Sabino, Gianna Cutler
Story and Screenplay: Joel Mercado
Release Date: July 14, 2010

Paa is the second episode in the five-parter Cinco (Duh. LOL). This one tackles a revengeful ghost of a young kid who visits the mother of her classmate. It was then revealed in the end what the connection of the mother (played perfectly by Jodi Sta. Maria) was to the untamed ghost. I think that this episode in particular is very underrated. The direction and approach was top notch, and the short length time of the episode worked well in its favor. The editing was also sharp, and Jodi Sta. Maria was more than capable in the lead role. My favorite scene perhaps was the end part with the montage, where everything was revealed. This is one of the few films that gets better and stands the test of time.

Director: Chito S. Roño
Stars: Kris Aquino, Lotlot de Leon, Jay Manalo
Story and Screenplay: Chito S. Roño, Roy Iglesias
Release Date: September 15, 2004

But of course, what’s a horror film list without Feng Shui? Chito Roño’s flick that showed how the fate of people depend on the Chinese ornament called bagua, and how one’s luck and demise are affected by it. Whether your creeped out by the “May uwi si Nanay… si Nanay… sa bahay” chant, the connection of one’s horoscope to the cause of your death, the scene where Alice (de Leon) comes across an image of the Lotus Feet holding a bloody and dead version of herself, or just by Kris Aquino’s kunot noo approach to show that she’s scared, there are no other reasons why this won’t be the top horror film of the last 12 years. 

How about you? What are some of your favorite local horror films? Do you feel there’s something that’s missing on the list? Or do you think there’s an undeserving entry here? Pipe them in below the Comments section.

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Best Actors of the New Generation   3 comments

The concept of who is the best for a particular field is a very subjective one. Each taste differs from another one. The current lead acting winners at the Gawad Urian last week gave me a thought that we are slowly shifting to younger actors to handle lead roles in both mainstream and independent films. With that, I came up with a list of the best young actors of the current generation. The main and single criteria that I used here is that the actors need to be under the age of 35 and below. Their filmographies, performances, and other relevant factors were considered as well. However, like what I mentioned, each opinion is subjective, so I’m sharing this with you and you can agree with me or take it with a grain of salt.

First, here are names that were close but failed to make the cut: Wendell Ramos, Vhong Navarro, Ketchup Eusebio, and Paulo Avelino.

So now, let’s begin with the actual countdown:

16. ZANJOE MARUDO
Age:
29
Notable Performances:
Altar, Sa’yo Lamang, Wedding Tayo Wedding Hindi

Zanjoe Marudo is probably one of the underrated contemporary actors we have. While he is usually relegated to supporting roles and leading man roles, he simply makes the best out of what’s given to him. It also does not hurt that he’s one of the actors that works well in the comedy genre while not totally being ignorant in dramatic roles. As a matter of fact, he has starred in straight comedies (Kimmy Dora), straight dramas (Sa’yo Lamang), straight thrillers (Altar), as well as rom-coms (You Got Me), and horror-comedy (Cinco episode: Puso). It seems that his handler aims for a pretty much versatile résumé.

15. JOEM BASCON
Age:
25
Notable Performances:
Noy, Ka Oryang, Batanes

Started out in the business as part of the teenage show Let’s Go, Joem Bascon was first launched as simply a Piolo Pascual look a-like. Years later, he emerged as one of the go to young character actors with his hunky looks and strong features as add-ons to his undeniable talent. He also went on to win a Supporting Actor Urian in 2010 for his performance as a wheelchaired drug dealer in the politically themed movie Noy. While Joem’s current projects is the ABSCBN drama Walang Hanggan, he still takes indie movie roles every now and then such as his recent turn in Ka Oryang.

14. SAM MILBY
Age: 
28
Notable Performances: 
Third World Happy, Forever and a Day, My Big Love

Sam Milby, who was once a housemate in the country’s biggest reality show, turned out to be one of the best actors of his generation. Whether it’s his work as the lovable chubby guy Macky in My Big Love or an academe member in Babe I Love You, Sam has this certain movie star charisma that is difficult to resist. Beyond that though is the depth in his recent performances that require more emotional tugs such as the son who experiences a life changing realization in Third World Happy or his serious competitive businessman in Forever and a Day, It is very easy to predict that there’s still a long way ahead waiting for Milby’s star to shine even brighter.

13. JIRO MANIO
Age:
 20
Notable Performances: Magnifico, La Vida Rosa, Foster Child

At a very young age, Jiro Manio has already given some of the finest performances in recent Philippine cinema. His turn as the lovable child Magnifico won raves not only here in the country but in other parts of the world as well. Before that, he used to sweep Child Acting categories for his performances in other movies such as Bagong Buwan, Mila, and La Vida Rosa. While his succeeding movies ranged from excellent (Foster Child), to good (Tanging Ina) to bad (Bahay Kubo) to unfathomable (Manay Po series), his capabilities as an actor will never ever be denied.

12. JASON ABALOS
Age:
27
Notable Performances: Endo, Thelma, Adela

For his age, Jason Abalos seems to exude this level of confidence and maturity of men older than him. That was most evident in his Urian winning performance “Endo” when partnered with more mature actress Ina Feleo. He also got a chance to be paired with the country’s top young actress Judy Ann Santos in a TV anthology. While Jason is very much active in his television career (he never runs out of series whether it’s in daytime or primetime), it will be better to see Jason Abalos do movies and take the center stage once again.

11. MARVIN AGUSTIN
Age:
 33
Notable Performances: Tanging Yaman, Kutob, Patikul

Marvin Agustin was once a member of the elite club of loveteams in Philippine entertainment in the late 90s. His early works were usually pairings with loveteam Jolina Magdangal. However, the decade 2000 showed the best of Marvin Agustin when he started to move on to projects that tend to result to critical and commercial acclaim such as “Tanging Yaman” and “Trip”. And even before Dingdong Dantes showed the psychopath role in Segunda Mano last year, Marvin already did the same performance in Jose Javier Reyes’ Kutob in 2005. While he veered away from leading man materials in films, Marvin still stars in notable ones such as his nominated performance in last year’s indie film “Patikul.”

10. YUL SERVO
Age:
 
33
Notable Performances: Batang Westside, Laman, Naglalayag

While he was never introduced as a matinee or teenage idol, Yul Servo has made a name for himself via Lav Diaz’s Batang Westside in 2001. This 33 year old Moreno chinito actor has then made his mark in the industry when he starred in Maryo J delos Reyes’s Laman in 2002 and Albert Martinez’s Rosario last year. He also played the leading man of the one and only Superstar Nora Aunor in Naglalayag which gave him lots of nominations during that year’s awards season. Servo has acted and starred with the likes of Joel Torre, Nora Aunor, Jaclyn Jose, Albert Martinez, and Elizabeth Oropesa in his decade long career, and if that’s not impressive, then I don’t know what is.

09. DENNIS TRILLO
Age:
 
31
Notable Performances: Aishite Imasu, Blue Moon, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Dennis Trillo gave one of the most memorable breakthrough performances in Philippine movie history when he starred as a cross-dressing man to whom a high Japanese officer fell in love with in the middle of war. This performance gave Trillo two Star Awards, a Luna, and a FAMAS. His next performances such as the gradpa’s son in Blue Moon, the syndicate leader in Mano Po 6, and the gym instructor torn between a mother and her daughter in Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow merited awards consideration as well.

08. PAOLO CONTIS
Age:
28
Notable Performances: Pagsasamang Kay Ganda: Noon at Ngayon, Banal, Listonero

One of the most successful Ang TV alumnus, Paolo Contis managed to smoothly translate his career from sidekicks and ensemble members to actual stars and lead actors of the films he starred in. While he currently works as a co-host of GMA’s Manny Manny Prizes, his film performances such as the gay son in Noon at Ngayon and his Star Awards Best Actor winning performance in Banal were some of the reasons why Contis is ahead to some of his contemporaries in terms of achievements.

07. BARON GEISLER
Age: 
30
Notable Performances: Jologs, Jay, Manila Kingpin: Asiong Salonga Story

                                                                                                        Baron Geisler’s personal issues usually meddle with people’s perception of him as a celebrity but never when it comes to his works. As an actor, Geisler is one of the most versatile out there. As for starters, he played Vilma Santos’ goody two shoes in Anak that gave him several awards nominations. Next, he made an impact as the gay survivor who was almost killed in the ensemble driven film Jologs. While most of his succeeding performances were villainous turns in Nandito Ako Nagmamahal Sa’yo, Baler, and Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story, his most compelling performance to date was when he play the title role of the gay report Jay in 2009.

06. CARLO AQUINO
Age: 
26
Notable Performances: Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa, Minsan May Isang Puso, Sa Aking Pagkakagising sa Kamulatan

Carlo Aquino shared the screen with veterans such as Vilma Santos, Albert Martinez, Ricky Davao, and Jaclyn Jose. It’s difficult to make level yourself up with them but Carlo does it with so much ease that he even gets nominations and trophies even at a young age. When he got older, he suffered some career lie low due to the awkward transition of every celebrity child star to adulthood. However, that did not stop him from giving bravura performances one after the other may it be in leading roles such as Sa Aking Pagkagising sa Kamulatan in 2005 and Torotot in 2008 or supporting turns such as Baler and Tanging Ina franchise.

05. PIOLO PASCUAL
Age:
35
Notable Performances: Dekada ’70, Milan, Manila

Probably the most famous eligible bachelor in the local entertainment industry, Piolo Pascual is by no means just a guy with good looks. Time and again, he has already proven that he is an all around guy that made waves whether it is in recording, television, and now, producing industry as well. But of course, when we mention Piolo Pascual the actor, his effective and intense performances in his films such as his FAMAS winning stint in Milan, Star Awards winning performances in Don’t Give Up On Us and Paano Kita Iibigin are some of what folks will remember. Awards aficionados though will always remember how Piolo Pascual was the last person who achieved grandslam status by winning all major supporting actor awards from the MMFF, PMPC, FAP, FAMAS, and Urian for his turn as son Jules Bartolome in Star Cinema’s Dekada 70.

04. JERICHO ROSALES
Age:
32
Notable Performances: Tanging Yaman, Santa Santita, Pacquiao: The Movie

From one Hunk to another, Jericho Rosales has really come a long way from his Mr. Pogi days. This former fish vendor achieved so many from being a primetime royalty to a member of The Hunks to recording artist and to an award winning actor. While most criticisms re: Echo always root from his English accent, no one can deny his approach to move roles given to him. His supporting performances in Tanging Yaman, Bagong Buwan, Noon at Ngayon up to his lead ones such as Baler, Pacquiao: the Movie, and Santa Santita are living proofs of his effectiveness as one of the best actors of his generation.

03. COCO MARTIN
Age:
30
Notable Performances: Serbis, Kinatay, Noy

Dubbed as the Prince of Philippine Indie Movies, Coco martin must feel a lot of pressure in his shoulders to be named as such. However, that cool and effortless demeanor he exudes when he portrays his roles is a big testament on why he is achieving success both in mainstream and independent industry. That characteristic is most prevalent in his performances wherein he was a masseur (Masahista), a conflicted young husband (Kinatay), and a desperate reporter (Noy). Lately, Coco is busy fulfilling his television star status, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one waiting for his next big screen output.

02. SID LUCERO
Age:
31
Notable Performances: Selda, Independecia, Muli

Given that he is the son of one of the country’s best actors, it is easy to figure out that 31 year old actor Sid Lucero will really do well in this field. But while we are expecting good stuff from him, we’re still surprised to find out that not only did he bring the good stuff, he even brought the great stuff in his performances. With Sid, what you see is not necessarily what you get. Behind his machismo overload demeanor comes a vulnerable and effective portrayal of different types of people such as his performances in the movies Selda, Donsol, and Muli. Sid is also one of the only six actors (and the youngest at that) to receive multiple Best Actor awards at the Gawad Urian Awards. Yes, you can close your mouth now.

01. JOHN LLOYD CRUZ
Age:
28
Notable Performances: One More Chance, In My Life, My Amnesia Girl

Finally, the one I consider as the best actor, in my opinion, of his generation, John Lloyd Cruz is one of the best risk takers among his contemporaries. He started out showing potential already when he won Best Actor at the 2000 Star Awards for TV beating the likes of Eddie Garcia and Richard Gomez. His movie star status started out doing love teams one after the other, but it wasn’t until his performance of Popoy in 2006 cult classic One More Chance that relegated him into the most charismatic actor in recent years. Whether it’s with Bea Alonzo, Sarah Geronimo, Toni Gonzaga, and Angel Locsin, all of John Lloyd’s movies never fail to hit stride with the watchers. Oh, and he is always at the top of his acting game. Have I mentioned the big slap he gave Vilma Santos after shouting at her face? That’s some pretty big balls out there, and John Lloyd always I’m sure is the country’s best among his peers.

There you have it. Who do you think was left out? Did you agree with my John Lloyd pick? Are you looking for Rainier Castillo? Pipe them in at the Comments section. 🙂

REVIEW: Moron 5 and the Crying Lady   5 comments

GOOD NEWS: Wenn Deramas did not direct the last Tanging Ina movie.

BAD NEWS: He came up with this, instead.

The latest offering of Viva Films is heavily inspired from the Indian movie 3 Idiots. Only this time, it’s thrice the idiocy and ridiculousness without the heart and emotional impact. Five childhood friends named Michael Angelo Marcos (Mart Escudero), Isaac Estrada (Billy Crawford), Albert Macapagal (Luis Manzano), Mozart Twister Aquino (DJ Durano), and Aristotle Ramos (Marvin Agustin) were imprisoned after being  accused of killing the father of another childhood classmate, Becky Pamintuan (John Lapuz). Truth is, they were just framed up by Pamintuan as a revenge for accidentally revealing that Becky is a former man who underwent an operation to marry the Japanese he likes.

In true Deramas fashion, this movie offered nothing new. Were there funny moments?  Yes, there’s one that involves a monologue by John Lapuz near the end of the movie. Other than that, it is a chop suey of past scenes from different Deramas movies. Most of the jokes were recycled and old fashioned, and not even the actors can rise above this terrible material. In another true Deramas fashion, you’ll feel as if the leads were exposed by requiring them to do underwear scenes while gyrating their bodies just like in Praybeyt Benjamin and Petrang Kabayo. The movie tried to make it interesting with the special twist in Becky’s character; however, it wasn’t enough to save this movie from the cliche one after the other.

Luis Manzano works in this role particularly because it does not require him to do much but to adlib and give his cutesy looks to the camera. Billy Crawford was just his usual giddy self. Marvin Agustin is probably acting his storyline if Ina Montecillo gave his eldest son to his aunt. DJ Durano is just too old to play a high school student… no scratch that. He’s too old to play even a repeater of high school. I find myself engaged the most with Martin Escudero, even though it’s a given that he’s already the best actor among he group. While it may seem that he’s somewhat awkward at the beginning, you can see how he gels with the rest of the group as the film progressed. John Lapuz wasn’t given much to do, although he sold the most out of it every time he appears on screen.

While there are films that are simply made to entertain the hell out of us, Moron 5 and the Crying Lady doesn’t belong on that list. It also does not belong to those genius comedy mainstream films. All in all, it’s a simple yet costly reminder on what not to do if you try to write and direct a comedy film.

Grade: D