ASWANG~ 1994, Wrye Martin and Barry Poltermann
The story of Aswang is a tale as old as time. A young woman, burdened with an unwanted pregnancy, is propositioned by a wealthy man who looks suspiciously like Shooter McGavin; “come out to my big mansion in the middle of no where and pretend to be my wife and then give me your baby, because my damn mom is dying and if I can’t produce an heir I don’t get any of them fat Aswang dollars.” Win win? No, never trust anyone who looks like Shooter McGavin. Our gal agrees, though, and travels to an isolated country home thinking this was your boiler plate, run of the mill baby sale, when in fact Shooter and his family are a bunch of shady aswangs looking to chow down on her unborn child. Record scratch!
But just what is an aswang? It’s some form of weird Filipino ghoul that, among other things, eats babies, while still en utero, via a long, gross tongue (Asia has the best monsters.) Clearly, the horror movie potential here is just through the roof, and there have actually been a few aswang movies, but at present this is the only one I’ve seen that was actually made for English speaking audiences. Obviously you’re looking for Aswang 101, and unless you speak Tagolog and have an all region DVD player, this is a good place to start.
Aswang, being a film about a unique kind of monster, vaults back and forth between creature feature and slasher when appropriate, but the entire time it maintains an interesting and creepy body horror type vibe, kind of like what you would have seen if David Cronenberg had directed a slasher concurrently with The Brood. It’s kinda creepy, kinda gross, kinda funny, there’s a little blood here and there, and the concept feels fresh and interesting to we Westerners who didn’t grow up under constant threat from nocturnal baby eaters our entire lives. Check your privilege, guys.
So, Aswang is a lot of fun, I like it quite a bit. It could be gorier, it could be more gross, or more scary, but it’s a very well done low budget horror picture with some interesting new ideas. More importantly, this is probably the greatest Shooter McGavin related horror movie available on home video right now, and that means something to me. I hope it means something to you, too.