Sitting at the southeastern corner of Asia lies the Philippines, which like any other Asian country such as Japan or Thailand, has its own fair share of cinematic horrors. Filipino or “Pinoy” horror is mostly rooted in local folklore and religion, a result of the country’s beliefs and culture before and after it has been invaded and taken over by different nations over the years.
Some of the most prominent characters in Pinoy horror include a man with the head of a horse called a “tikbalang,” a flying vampiric creature that separates its torso from the rest of its body at night to hunt, (known as a “manananggal”) tobacco-smoking giants, (known as “kapres”) and all other sorts of creatures. Here at The Yurei, we have compiled a list of some of the most memorable movie monsters that have terrified Filipinos over the years.
5 – Tiyanak.
A “tiyanak” is a vampiric creature in Philippine mythology that appears in the form of a baby. It is said that when one is in the jungle, it would lure its victims with the sound of a baby crying. Once the poor victim finds the innocent-looking baby and picks it up, it transforms into its true form- a vampiric monster hungry for human flesh.
This creature became even more popular after the release of Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes’ 1988 Filipino horror film of the same name starring one of the Philippines’ popular scream queens before, Janice de Belen. Hence, the creature’s popular nickname- “anak ni Janice” (Janice’s baby).
4 – Zuma
Comics were once one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the Philippines- but have sadly experienced a decline since the advent of Japanese manga and North America’s booming comic book industry. Perhaps the most well-known character in Pinoy comics was Zuma, created by Jim Fernandez in 1974.
Portrayed as a demigod, Zuma was the son of the Aztec serpent god Kukulkan. Known for his unique appearance as a muscular man with bright green skin and glowing red eyes, Zuma has two snakes resting on his shoulders which he uses to kill his victims. Zuma was known to be awakened from his deep slumber in an underground pyramid, and went on a bloody murder spree, killing virgin women and eating their hearts.
Zuma’s story has been adapted into two films- one in 1985 and the other in 1987- and most recently reproduced in a 2013 television series that focused on his daughter, Galema.
3 – The LRT Monster
The “Shake, Rattle and Roll” franchise is probably the longest running horror anthology film series in Asia, with fifteen installments in total. The remainder of this list covers some of the most popular monsters from this franchise, starting with the LRT monster from Shake, Rattle and Roll 8 (2006).
Directed by Michael Tuviera, the story of “LRT” is pretty basic- a group of unsuspecting commuters who rode the last trip of the LRT (Light Rail Transit) become stranded in an abandoned station where they are hunted by a monster without eyes, using its sense of smell and hearing to track down its victims and removing their hearts, because in the Philippines, we love ripping each other’s hearts out.
2 – The Pridyider
The “Shake, Rattle and Roll” franchise is home to some of the weirdest movie monsters you’ll ever see onscreen- a man-eating Christmas tree, a killer bridal gown, a haunted aquarium- but nothing beats a malevolent refrigerator.
Ishmael Bernal (one of Philippine cinema’s greatest directors) directs this episode entitled “Pridyider” (which translates to ‘refrigerator’ in English) from the very first installment of “Shake, Rattle and Roll”, which follows a family that moves into their new home, unaware that it used to be the house of a serial rapist who murdered his victims and hid their chopped body parts in the refrigerator. This episode was one of the series’ most popular stories that it was adapted into a full-length film in 2012 by director Rico Maria Ilarde- also featuring the original “Pridyider” actress Janice de Belen.
This reviewer finds the “Pridyider” to be particularly creepy. A typical appliance found in almost every Filipino household, with a deadly twist is certainly the stuff of nightmares. While the concept may sound silly, imagining a normal-looking inanimate object within the comfort of one’s home turning out to be a murderous monster will certainly make you rethink that midnight snack! Most of these monsters are outside threats, but what if the thing that will kill you is just lying in wait in your own kitchen like a predator patiently waiting for its prey, ready to strike when you least expect it?
1 – Undin.
Considered as the most memorable monster from the “Shake, Rattle and Roll” film series, the Undin is a water-nymph sea creature living in the water. In the episode “Nanay” (mother) of “Shake, Ratlle and Roll III” (1991), the creature wreaks havoc inside a girls’ boarding house when one of them unwittingly steals her eggs during an outing to the lake where the creature resides. Hiding inside a water cooler jug, the creature attacks everyone in the dormitory during a party, killing them by spitting acidic saliva that melts its victims.
For those of you well-versed in Filipino folklore, which creature terrifies you the most? Do you agree with our picks or are there other Pinoy movie monsters that you feel should be on this list? Be sure to let us know in the comments!