Despite the enormous popularity of the first film, it took a full six years before a return installment emerged in the Filipino omnibus series ‘Shake Rattle and Roll.’ Abandoning the concept of the separate directors for each installment as the entire affair was done by the team of Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes, but holding true to the same three-part setup, this one offered the most conclusive proof of where the series would go in the future.
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We’re presented with three short horror segments here. In ‘Multo,’ a man and his new bride head out to the countryside for their honeymoon and stop off at a relative’s house who lives alone in a small shack in the woods. As they set about trying to honor their intended honeymoon, it becomes more and more obvious he’s become possessed by a vengeful spirit threatening to kill her. For the most part, this segment was rather fun is somewhat slow to get going. As the beginning concerns their attempts to reestablish a familial relationship with their grandmother who owns the house, this one starts off rather blandly until it gets to the point where the possession becomes obvious, which is pretty early in the segment. Given the quick nature of its happening, the segment gets plenty to enjoy about not only preparing her for what’s to come but explaining the cause of the possession through the superstitious trinkets or the behavior signalling his change. As these are aided by a nice selection of visual tricks showing the spirit hovering around the body as well as the shockingly graphic sequences showing a victim being cut up in a hospital lab that sets the possession in motion, it manages to have a lot to like despite the slow-going nature of the short.
In segment two, ‘Kulam,’ a rebellious teenager starts working at a busy hospital looking after some of the patients alongside the regular nurses on duty. When she’s given the chance to see the inner workings of the hospital going back to retrieve a lost skateboard, she uncovers the dangerous secret about the staff at the hospital. This was an incredibly disappointing segment that really could’ve been a lot more fun. A lot of this is due to the early setup here with the melodrama involved in the central sequence of the fired nurse as the comical nature of her seducing and riding the injured patient. Rather than being scary, these scenes are just laughably bad and the supposed catfight to win his affections is just an embarrassment to all involved and just makes for a confusing tone. Since the central idea, about the dangerous inner workings of the staff is far more horror-based, this comedy comes off with a strikingly disparate tone. Those horrific sequences are rather enjoyable, with the inclusion of voodoo-controlled dolls, supernatural curses and eventually zombies running around, this inherently silly slapstick just seems wholly out-of-place and not necessary for the segment. This could’ve been fine as a straightforward, serious segment but suffers strongly because of this silly changing tone.
The final segment, ‘Aswang,’ features a young woman returning to her jungle village where she is initially perturbed about their sudden interest in partaking in a strange series of rituals. As she spends more time in the village, the more she learns about the truth behind their beliefs and tries to leave once she’s aware of the danger. This is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the franchise with plenty to like about it. The general concept at play here, about the village suddenly undergoing the strange series of rituals and behaviors, including the strange dinner celebrations eating only meat or drawing strange symbols on the ground, gets this segment started off on a great note by offering a creepy setup all around her. Once it starts repeating these scenes of her being looked at ominously by the strangers in the village, the creepiness starts to unfurl rather nicely, including encounters in the woods with people chained up in boxes or finding her drink spiked just when the villagers arrive to abduct them for a special ceremony. As that plays out in the middle of the jungle, seeing the witch doctor and the rest of the tribe engaging in the occult rituals that are shown in order to placate the creature threatening them, offers some rather chilling imagery of their ceremonial spaces. That leads into the stellar if somewhat overlong confrontations with the rest of the tribe chasing her throughout the jungle which is a lot of fun. Despite the less-than-stellar make-up effects which are somewhat goofy-looking, the high-energy series of chases after a fine setup make this a winning piece overall.
While there are a few minor issues with each segment, overall the far more enjoyable aspects of each entry manage to overwhelm this one into being a highly enjoyable entry in the series. Give this a chance if you’re into the other entries of the franchise, have an affinity for anthology films or are genuinely curious about this, while those that aren’t any of these should heed caution overall.