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HALIMAW SA BANGA

This 1986 quickie has been called “one of the scariest horror movies in Philippine cinema.” I guess you have to be Filipino to really appreciate this film, because I didn’t find it too frightful.

The Package
     HALIMAW SA BANGA began as the concluding portion of the two-part film HALIMAW, which commenced with a comedic segment called “Komiks.” Yet “Halimaw sa Banga” was always the more popular of HALIMAW’S two parts, and now exists as a standalone film.
     Fun fact: in its complete form HALIMAW won 3rd place in the Best Picture category at a Manila film festival, yet there were no first or second place winners!

The Story
     A large jar, or banga, is excavated from an ancient cave. An attractive woman art collector purchases the banga for display in her backyard, unaware that it’s a conduit for the spirit world.
     Years earlier a witch was hunted down and crucified by superstitious villagers, and the witch’s unquiet spirit now seeks revenge. The banga provides an ideal vessel for that vengeance, and the spirit takes to reaching out of the banga with its clawed hands and yanking people into its depths.
     The artist woman who owns the banga is initially blind to the demoness’ presence, as she’s too preoccupied with her own problems. Eventually, however, she can no longer ignore the unearthly evil in her midst, especially when explosions begin going off around her and the demoness makes a personal appearance…

The Direction
     It’s hard to believe, but this film was once considered the state of the art in Filipino genre moviemaking--and apparently still is in some quarters. To western eyes it exerts an Ed Woodian fascination with its laughably overwrought atmosphere and beyond-cheesy special effects (crudely animated laser beams shot from eyes, etc) that wouldn’t pass muster in an American made student film.
     Yet director Mario O’Hara does demonstrate some horrific flair. The unearthly blue lighting that accompanies the demoness’ every appearance is eerily compelling (if low rent), while the pasty demon woman herself, with her clawed hands and long white hair, is an arresting sight. But still, those things don’t make for the genre masterpiece HALIMAW SA BANGA has been cracked up to be.
 

Vital Statistics

HALIMAW SA BANGA
NCV Films

Director: Mario O’Hara
Producer: Oscar Villamayor
Screenplay: Frank Rivera, Mario O’Hara
Cinematography: Johnny Araojo
Editing: Efren Jarlego
Cast: Marilyn Villamayor, Romnick Sarmenta, Ronel Victor, Lotlot De Leon, Mario O’Hara, Liza Lorena, Maritess Gutierrez, Mary Walter, Tony Angeles, Nora Aunor
 

     

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