Filipinos have their fair share of creepy and scary folktales and urban legends that have inspired countless feelings of dread. The "Panahon ng Hapon" (Japanese colonial era), decapitated friars, and Aswang feature prominently in our ghost stories.
Our scariest horror films used these inspirations to capture our imaginations and tap into our most primal fears. Somehow, these films made us afraid of the refrigerator because of the chopped body parts that could be hidden inside. They chilled our spines when we’re alone inside the bathroom because an Undin (lake creature) might come out of the toilet. And yes they made us scared of the banga (vase), bagua (lucky charm), baso, and other household items.
Brace yourself as M2.0 Communications presents you ten of the most hair-raising and scariest Filipino horror films of all time.
In no particular order:
1. Patayin Mo Sa Sindak si Barbara (1974 & 1995)
A truly classic horror film, its title became a household word for anything horror. With Susan Roces in the leading role and directed by Celso Ad Castillo, the movie has been frightening moviegoers since 1974. The plot revolves around the love triangle of Barbara, her sister Ruth, and a lover. Barbara was haunted by the ghost of Ruth who killed herself out of jealousy when she discovered her husband was leering at Barbara.
The film became popular and a remake was produced in 1995 by Chito S. Roño with Lorna Tolentino as Barbara and Dawn Zulueta as Ruth.
2. Sukob (2006)
Another horror film involving two sisters, but here married to different husbands, was directed by Chito S. Roño. The story tackles the Filipino superstition that no two siblings should marry in the same year, lest they suffer from a curse. The curse was only broken when Sandy (Kris Aquino) died after falling from the belfry where Diana (Claudine Barretto) got married.
The ghostly flower girl who haunts the two sisters is one of the scariest figures in recent Filipino horror films.
3. Feng Shui (2004)
The prominence of Chinese influences in the Philippines and the ubiquitous bagua made this film very relatable to Filipino viewers. The movie proved to be iconic as it became popular for its many spooky details, which included the lotus feet ghost all in white, the creepy song "May Uwi si Nanay sa Bahay", and the characteristic deaths of people that matched the Chinese zodiac.
4. Sigaw (2004)
The almost derelict and grunge-looking tenement in the film proves very effective in scaring you off your feet. The plot revolves around the creepy apartment where Richard Gutierrez and Angel Locsin are haunted by the ghost of a battered woman, played by Iza Calzado, together with her daughter.
It’s an amazing blend of horror, suspense, and thriller. One of the scariest scenes is when Richard was taken aback by the ghostly little girl crawling towards him.
The film saw an international remake in 2008 by an American screenplay writer and was entitled The Echo.
5. Halimaw sa Banga (1986)
Hailed as the mother of all Pinoy monsters, Halimaw sa Banga is a hall-of-famer in Filipino Horror Films. This movie is the second part of the two-part film "Halimaw”. It delves into the story of an ancient jar that houses a witch who savages the body of anyone who looks inside it.
The pale and all-white look of the Halimaw who peeps from the jar became a nightmare for many Filipinos. And thanks to that witch, many Filipinos became afraid of heirloom jars that many of us have in our home.
6. Itim (1976)
This film made an extensive use of Catholic imagery that made it really creepy and haunting. And when combined with pagan traditions and seances, “Itim” became extra spooky.
Quark Henaras, a filmmaker, remarked that this motion picture is “one of the most disturbing in Philippine cinema.”
7. Numbalikdiwa (2006)
If your choice of horror is a lot of gore and blood, this movie is definitely for you. The film is about an ancient ritual in which people eat the dead to receive the dead man's soul. Interestingly, this horror flick tells a peculiar love story between souls undaunted by life or death.
8. Tiyanak (1988)
This must be the scariest “baby-horror” movie of all time. Tiyanak is the story of Julie (played by Janice de Belen), a childless wife who suffered multiple miscarriages and was desperate to have a child. She claimed and took care of an abandoned baby that her sister found. Unfortunately, they later found out that this baby transforms into a vampire-like monster child who preys on and kills humans.
9. The Killer Pridyider (1984)
From the 1984 Shake Rattle and Roll film, one of the episodes that many weren’t able to forget is the Pridyider, a malevolent killer refrigerator that tried to suck in the body of the young Janice de Belen. Good thing her mother, Charito Solis saved her by unplugging the thing!
10. Yanggaw (2008)
This indie-horror film reinterprets the classic story of an Aswang. The film dominated the awards in Cinema One Originals 2008 Festival including the Best Director, Best Actor, Audience Choice Award, and a lot more!
Yanggaw means “infection” in Ilonggo. The movie tells the story of a farmer's daughter named Amor who got sick and insidiously became an aswang. She is her normal self during the day but disappears at night to eat on animal or human flesh. Her family tried to chain her but they couldn’t stand seeing her that way. They let her go as she promised not to devour her own family.
What happened to Amor? Find out yourself!
For sure, there are many other great horror films that you would want to include in this list. Feel free to share them by commenting below.