Twelve Things about Shake, Rattle & Roll X
12. The only reason this movie is getting its own Twelve Things post when I've let better movies go unblogged is that it crossed that wonderful line between So Bad and So Bad It's Good. =P That's a harder, rarer feat than most people think!
11. Like all movies in the Shake, Rattle & Roll franchise, this tenth offering is an "omnibus" of three short-ish stories that are sometimes Horor and sometimes just Horror-ish. And sometimes the Horror-ish ones are the most fun.
10. In the first story, Emergency, the (presumably city-bred) staff of a country hospital finds itself in the crosshairs of a conflict between a strange human-like race from the forests and some of the locals. It's a skirmish that lasts exactly one evening, which is probably why the filmmakers seemed to think that they didn't need to fill in the blanks with any backstory.
Now, I don't like convoluted exposition any more than your average intelligent Horror fan, but the only story worse than the most forced explanation of supernatural phenomenon you can think of is: "A studio head realises that a dozen of its talents need a project for the end of the year and puts them all in the ensemble cast of the same mediocre project . . ."
9. I suppose it's worth adding that one of those talents and I used to ride home on the same school bus. =P It's always nice to be able to see someone you know (or once knew) in real life in a movie, even if it's So Bad or So Bad It's Good--and Emergency gets an extra point for that.
8. It can also get some credit for setting the birth of a demonic baby at Christmas time . . . and for one of the most creative strategic partnerships of holy water and technology I've ever seen in a Horror movie. LOL!
7. The second story, Class Picture, features a group of teenagers who are spending the night at school in order to finish a special exhibit for the school's anniversary. It's a collage of class pictures from every year in the school's history . . . and as you might have already guessed, one of the pictures is cursed.
6. This could have been so cool. I loved the effect of the girls in modern clothes seeing their reflections wearing the school's old uniform--which they recognise from the old cursed photo. They have only a split second to adjust to the shock before they realise they have been sucked into a former teacher's mad revenge fantasy.
So it makes sense that I started screaming, "Don't look in the mirrors! Avoid all shiny surfaces!!!" . . . but no sense at all that someone would write, "Don't stare at me," in blood on the school wall. Since the teacher can't get at anyone until they've stared long enough at her in the photo, why would she warn them not to do this???
5. Oh, speaking of screaming (which I happen to do really well) . . . There are people who think screaming is screaming is screaming, but the truth isn't so simple. There are scared screams, angry screams, warning screams, suffering screams . . . basically a scream for every possible human emotion and even some of the higher, more abstract thoughts. But you'd never know that from the completely generic screaming of the young actresses in Class Picture.
You know those mentors in singing competitions who always say that you should tell a story with your voice? Well, that holds true whether your voice is singing or screaming.
4. I have saved the best for last . . . Nieves is about a small barrio's beloved "Engkanto Slayer," who is probably exactly what Buffy Summers would be like if she grew up on a poor Philippine farm. Equal parts comedy, satire, romance and fantasy, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason for the marketing of this story as a Horror movie. But I'm not complaining.
The photographer made her arms look gimpy
but I hope you get the general idea.
3. Nieves is simply a wonderful character: funny, irreverent, affectionate and tough--and played to perfection by Marian Rivera. Engkanto slaying wasn't a great calling for her; it was just a skill she had to learn after she and her husband fell in love and jealous rivals from the supernatural kingdom kept trying to break them up.
Not that he is some hottie or anything . . . One of the funnier twists in the story is that Nieves's husband Adonis (LOL!) is as plain and simple-minded as she is stunning and quick. The only thing that baffles the fairies more than the mystery of why Nieves would pick him over one of them is the mystery of why the fairy queen Acacia would be desperately in love with Adonis as well.
But now I'm telling the story better than the filmmakers did.
I just hate it when that happens.
It's so damning, you know?
I just hate it when that happens.
It's so damning, you know?
2. But as usual, there is no logic behind the plot. Particularly brainless is the twist in which the pushy teen girl who convinced a retired Nieves to train her to be the next Engkanto Slayer is revealed to be Not Quite What She Seems. Not only could we have taken out this storyline and improved the movie, but we could have also taken out the entire character and improved the movie.
But this might have to do with the original vision of the writers . . . Nieves was supposed to be a feature film in its own right until it was killed and resurrected as a Shake, Rattle & Roll segment. The longer version would probably have made more sense. But the shorter version we have here is still good enough to be the one thing that keeps the rest of this movie afloat.
1. For a closing thought, how about some notes on Philippine Horror tropes? Nieves puts a post-modern twist on traditional engkanto stories that still scare people to sleep in the barrios . . . Emergency blends the same folklore with the more modern threat of insurgents in the hills . . . and Class Picture reminds us that old Catholic school buildings and the old-school nuns who built them have always been scary--so scary that it's probably best to give a fictional haunted building and a fictional evil nun names that sound Catholic (San Selino and Sister Belonia) but really aren't. Just in case, you know, real names might end up offending some spirits with no sense of humour.
Image Sources: a) Shake, Rattle & Roll X DVD, b) Nieves the Engkanto Slayer