The long and sordid history of tragic wars, looming structures, and ancient rituals in the Philippines makes for the perfect atmosphere for quality horror filmmaking. As Halloween approaches, many of us often revisit the country's finest films in preparation for the family's Undas movie marathon (because there's nothing like a good shriek-fest with your cousins on Halloween). Don't feel like dressing up and going trick-or-treating tonight? Give yourself a little scare as you recall the country's most unnerving horror TV and movie icons.
Pridyider (From Shake, Rattle, & Roll, 1984)
Normally, a hunk of metal you could find at the appliance center would be the furthest thing from bloodcurdling, but this '80s horror classic turns the illusion of domestic peace on its head...and proceeds to chop that head off. In the film, the fridge haunts Lorna (Charito Solis) by showing her visions of mutilated body parts (human sirloin, anyone?), slamming and consuming people alive, and housing severed heads. It didn't help that the fridge would start moaning and groaning whenever the household's teenage daughter, Virgie (Janice de Belen) came into the kitchen—because in this patriarchal society, even refrigerators know how to make women uncomfortable. They should've gotten a refund on that thing as soon as they started seeing apparitions, but we’re guessing the blood stains and leftover human meat would have rendered that warranty void.
Bagua Mirror (From Feng Shui, 2004)
Second on our list of Supposedly Unassuming Household Items That Actually Want to Kill You: an antique bagua mirror, which Joy (Kris Aquino) receives inside a mysterious package. As it turns out, the mirror was previously owned by a Chinese woman with bound feet, left to die by her own family. "Lotus Lady" places a curse on the mirror so that anyone who looks at it would die a brutal death according to their Chinese zodiac sign. Year of the Rabbit? Maybe you could get out of that alive. Year of the Snake? Your chances have dipped slightly. Year of the Tiger? GOOD LUCK!
Manananggal (from Shake, Rattle, and Roll, 1984)
This is Shake, Rattle, & Roll's second appearance here—because it truly was, hands down, high up on our mental list of the scariest shit we've ever seen. What happens when the lady you're trying to get with is actually out to get you and your entire family? Douglas (Herbert Bautista—yes, dati nang may pa-horror si Mayor) is tasked by his grandmother to defeat Anita (Irma Alegre) from reuniting with the other half of her body. As you might already know, a manananggal's lower half, which sort of just chills out somewhere while the upper half is out murdering women and babies, is fatally vulnerable to salt and garlic. So you can think of Douglas as something like an exhausted Masterchef contestant, running around with these ingredients before the time's up. (Developing theory: Is Gordon Ramsay A Manananggal? Stay tuned.)
Chelsea the Doll (from the Patayin Sa Sindak Si Barbara miniseries, 2008)
Hell hath no fury like a woman...who thinks her husband is sleeping with her half-sister. Barbara (Kris Aquino) and Ruth (Jodi Sta. Maria) are half-sisters, with the former constantly making sacrifices so that the latter could feel like a real part of the family. Sweet, sisterly love, right? Wrong. The two women end up falling in love with the same man, Fritz (Albert Martinez), so Barbara self-exiles and becomes a nurse in the States. Even then, the jealous Ruth is consumed by her paranoia and commits suicide. Barbara proceeds to have the worst balikbayan trip of all time as Ruth's ruthless (pun very much intended) spirit possesses her own daughter's doll, Chelsea, and kills their shared family members, one after the other. Annabelle is shookt. The Conjuring is cancelled.
Flower Girl (from Sukob, 2006)
Kids, we've concluded, are scary as hell, whether alive or undead. In this film, Sandy (Kris Aquino) and Diana (Claudine Barretto) throw wedding pamahiin to the wind and decide to get hitched to their respective fiancees, resulting in a series of mysterious deaths at the hands of a flower girl, who makes her presence felt before or after each death. It's all thanks to the Filipino superstition advising siblings not to marry in the same year, or in the same year as an immediate relative's death. Surprise, surprise—Sandy and Diana are half-sisters! (This is a Filipino film after all. Of course they’re related.) Maury should have jumped out at the ending and said, "In the case of these wedding-related deaths...You are the sister!"