Shake, Rattle and Roll (1984) by Ishmael Bernal, Emmanuel Horlaza, Peque Gallaga

A series of horror stories cobbled together by Philippino 'Masters of Horror'


While the country had certainly experimented with the format before, it wasn't until 1984 came around that the Philippines really got a handle on the Anthology format. Already perfected in Britain through the stellar works of Amicus Studios as well as the US with George A. Romero's masterclass in "CreepShow," three big directors in the genre ,Ishmael Bernal ("City After Dark"), Emmanuel Horlaza ("Dugo ng Vampira") and Peque Gallaga ("Tiyanak") created a massive hit in their homeland that started a franchise that extended into one of the longest-running series in the genre as a whole.

The first story, "Baso", isn't necessarily the fastest-paced entry for an anthology opener but was enjoyable nonetheless. Arriving at a friends' house, friends Johnny (Joel Torre), Paolo (Rey Abellana) and Girlie (Arlene Murloch) decide to pass the time playing a game known as Spirit of the glass, which puts them in contact with a trio of spirits. Realizing a doomed love triangle is repeating itself, they try to stop the actions that originally killed the group from harming each other. The fact that it plays with familiar tropes here by featuring the localized version of the Ouija Board makes an identifiable connection to dive into the rest of the story. As the wild sequence displays all the usual attributes from the area around them being affected to the game, as it is obviously manipulated by outside forces with the pieces shown moving about, this here is a fine start to the romantic payoff. The story isn't that interesting or impressive during the flashback moments that show the original characters before the possession, as the Independence War-set scenes add no horror to the proceedings. However, it picks up again in the finale to offer some nice visuals through their brawl across the different time-zones. The replication of their events is quite a cliche but is not all too bad of a sequence the way it plays out, which makes this a nice introduction piece.


The second story, "Pridyider", was a really enjoyable segment. Moving into a new house, Lorna (Charito Solis) and her daughter Virgie (Janice de Belen) find a series of strange events and happenings around the central refrigerator that leads them to believe the object is cursed. As the device starts haunting the family in increasingly deadly manners, they try to stop its evil influence from affecting the family. Although the premise might not really support it, there's some absolutely chilling atmosphere derived from the titular device, which manages to include a host of shocking flash-jumps to the contents within. From bloodied appendages appearing on the shelves to raspy demonic growling emanating inside and even having the controls move around on their own, this segment generates a fine atmosphere that's all the more chilling once the events start picking up. Taking the time to establish the machines' use and importance to the family, that familiarity and prominence give way to several chilling attacks that are quite frightening coming from an immobile refrigerator. Despite that, this has a languid pace through the investigation scenes that make this longer than it needs to be which is what holds it back slightly.


The last story, Manananggal, ends this one on an incredibly high note. Traveling to his girlfriends' house, Douglas (Herbert Bautista) hopes to win Anita (Irma Alegre) over, but, inadvertently, stumbles onto the fact that she's a vicious, winged creature preying on the community. Getting back to the safety of his house, he and the rest of the family must fend off the creatures' attacks. When this one works, it's due to the exploitation of the forest setting as there are some utterly chilling and creepy settings that really sell the isolation of their location. The forest around them is rife with thick, densely layered underbrush that's impossible to look deep, which means the scenes of the unearthly roaring and screeches throughout here are just utterly terrifying. Hearing those noises emanate from the deep recesses of the jungle is a truly terrifying setup and the reveal works nicely with that. The last half, which is a series of attacks by the deformed creature, has some great moments as it's tearing into the house, forcing them to defend themselves and there are some fine attacks here with that. The only real issue is the opening song Douglas tries to sing to win her over, which is a real momentum-killer to start this off with a downbeat intro


Overall, this emerges as one of the finest and most underrated anthologies in the scene. It's got minor flaws in each entry, but there's so much to like in the films as a whole that this one is assuredly recommended viewing for anyone looking to tackle an obscure and worthwhile anthology. Those not fond of the format should at least tackle one of the segments to decide to investigate further.


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Asian Film Vault: Shake, Rattle and Roll (1984) by Ishmael Bernal, Emmanuel Horlaza, Peque Gallaga
Shake, Rattle and Roll (1984) by Ishmael Bernal, Emmanuel Horlaza, Peque Gallaga
A series of horror stories cobbled together by Philippino 'Masters of Horror'
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