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.
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!
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…
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.
HALIMAW SA BANGA
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