I’ve been hunting for this movie since October now. Throughout that time, I have very much enjoyed mispronouncing the title as “Ass-wang” – like if Wang Chung had their own vampire beast . But thankfully, the movie also goes by the exceedingly generic The Unearthing, which I guess we can only dream of the archaeological thriller that could have been.
I think the title is technically pronounced more like “os-wong”, which is infinitely less fun. Crude (fun) names aside, this is a movie that actually has some cred to it, which is nice for a change. Aswang premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994, which makes it just that much more sassier and special than Black Cadillac could never dream of being.
Everybody have fun tonight!
Everybody ass-wang tonight.
While I may be scraping at the bottom of the barrel for cash, I did splurge a bit and bought Aswang on DVD. Though it’s a German release (Das ultimative Böse which pretty much just means ‘The Ultimate Evil’), so I’m not really sure if there ever was a UK release for this. Possibly not. Moments like these that I really hate country codes. I’m surprised this little movie has been lost along the wayside. It’s rather difficult to find much about it on the Interwebs. I really couldn’t find to much about anyone connected to the film. The original story was written by Frank L Anderson, who was born in the Philippines and later moved Wisconsin. Most of the actors are from Kenosha. Well, according to IMDB anyway.
Anyway, the movie, right?
Aswang begins with some a girl, Katrina, and her boyfriend discussing their unborn baby. She ignores his pleads to go to a clinic and instead goes into an office where she and a couple sign a rather complicated agreement. Katrina has decided to pose as “Janine” for the Null family. She’ll be acting as Peter’s wife, who won’t see any of his orchard fortune if he isn’t married. His mother is in a wheelchair and seemingly normal until we see her clucking to her pet chicken, but if we’re all being honest with ourselves, isn’t that what any good Midwestern mother do?
Turns out Peter’s twin sister Claire is also a bit off her rockers. She lives unseen in the run-down house in the back garden, but has been under the care of Cupid, the attentive housekeeper. She’s quite attentive, actually as she insists of giving Katrina a drink at the dinner table and is insulted when she tries to turn it down. After knocking back a few, Katrina begins to dance which upsets the mother enough to bring her into a small attack. But everyone seems cheerful enough like some sinister Folgers commercial.
But clearly none of this is good for the baby. “Cider” plus creepy dreams and a really strange family? Poor Katrina, you’re totally fucked.
Meanwhile, Dr Harper is digging through the woods with his dog when they come across a disgusting, rancid skull. He’s later caught trespassing by Janine and Peter. Finding the doctor on the land really seems to be rather protective of his property. But he says he’s been finding scores of those weird skull/nest/cocoon bits all over the area. Seemingly forgiving the small misunderstanding, Dr Harper is invited over for dinner where he is shown Peter’s large collect of art from the Philippines, including a painting of the Aswang.
Dr Harper heads back to his little shack his, uh, shacked up in where he reads up about the Aswang. He discovers that it is Filipino vampire that eats on fetuses. Most die, but some can also turn into a Aswang. But he has little time to do anything with this revelation because he and his dog are quickly axed off. Sorry, fed on by mummie dearest.
We get to see some great worm-tongue, proboscis bit in action by the Aswang. The, I dunno, “slurpy bit” tries to attack Kat in the night, but she actually puts up a pretty damn good fight for a pregnant lady. After seeing Peter arrive to assist his mother, Kat realises that she’s gotten herself into some crazy shit.
Unfortunately, she’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. Instead of trying to get away, she goes to look for “Claire” for assistance. She sees that the small home is covered in blood and dead bodies, but tries to save Dr Harper’s life instead of just getting the hell out of that place. This is pretty standard for horror fare, but I also feel like those mothering instincts should kick in sometime right about now. To be fair, they do as soon as she starts getting chased by a woman with a chainsaw. It’s as good a time as any.
While Kat is busy tripping over graves in the woods and running down long country roads, Peter is mourning loss of Claire, but at least he doesn’t lose sight of the prize: Kat’s unborn baby. She’s eventually brought back by an idiotic policeman and goes straight back into the arms of the Null Nuts. At this point I’m kind of rooting for the Nulls because I’m interested mostly in what the effects will look like.
The ending is actually pretty great and there’s no way in hell I’m going to ruin it by telling you who is the victor in all of this. But it did make me go “Whoa. YES!” So I guess that’s a bit of a victory. Aswang is will worth checking out yourself. If you love screaming at the screen and fearing for character’s lives, watch this bad boy.
I actually really liked Aswang. The story is pretty messed up, there’s lots of gore and a really beautiful setting. Even the acting didn’t suck! HOORAY! I would have liked to have seen more development in the beginning of the film, like how Katrina got herself stuck in this situation to begin with. If you’re not paying enough attention at all, it can be easy to miss what the plan is supposed to be, exactly. Though the film is good on making a rather unsettling atmosphere, it just should have taken it’s time a bit more. I can’t believe I’ve written that for a WWW movie, but I wish this movie was longer.
But what I was mostly disappointed by was the lack of Wang Chung in the soundtrack. And that, I’m afraid, is something that just can’t be forgiven.
I’d walk a million miles
To eat your babe tonight
So if you like my deal
I’ll make you my fake wife
The vampire in me is strong
My mom is just like me
We’re kill you soon
Enjoy that cider, please
SLURP IT UP!
SLURP IT UP!
You’ll chase through the town
SLURP IT UP!
EVERYBODY HAVE FUN TONIGHT!
Everybody Ass-Wang tonight!
EVERYBODY SLURP BLOOD NIGHT!
Everybody Ass-Wang tonight!