BASEMENT (Topel Lee, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Basement:

1. Why were some of the actors not using their own voices? And why were they overacting like there’s no tomorrow?

2. The movie could easily be summed up as “a bunch of morons trapped in a mall with an aswang”. Are you laughing already?

3. The performances here were horrible. Everyone wanted to be the worst actor and they all won. Special credit to Sarah Lahbati and Teejay Marquez.

4. I simply lost it when the lower half of the manananggal wearing black Soen panties started prancing around.

5. One character had a handful of salt and ran after Ms. Soen. By the time she caught up with it, the salt was gone. It… melted?!

6. The lead character challenged the manananggal to a duel and brought out a… fire extinguisher!! Whee!

7. The only thing scary here was that I paid Php180 for this crap. What a waste!

Don’t expect hugs from a scared date. She’ll probably slap you instead for making her watch this.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published February 15, 2014.)

AMOROSA: THE REVENGE (Topel Lee, 2012)

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Bad, bad movie.

I pity Angel Aquino for subjecting herself to such an awful screenplay. I just hope she got a big paycheck for this.

The movie had one too many plot twists to distract you from the lack of a strong plot. It basically starred a ghost that seemed to pop up for no reason other than to scare the lead (by the end, you’d be questioning why she was doing that in the first place).

The Sophie’s Choice bit was idiotic and characters just kept making stupid decisions. One even developed amnesia after getting stabbed in the stomach.

I spent most of the time laughing instead.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published September 9, 2012.)

BLOODY CRAYONS (Topel Lee, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Bloody Crayons:

1. During the height of Scream fever in the late ’90s, Viva Films attempted to create (read: blatantly ripped-off) a Pinoy version of that popular slasher flick and came up with the terrible Sumigaw Ka…Hanggang Gusto Mo. It was directed by Eric Quizon who had the audacity to cast himself as the movie’s killer and also included the entire cast of T.G.I.S. (kids today would never know the kilig brought by the Wacks and Peachy love team), plus other GMA Artist Center artists question mark.

In one scene, the killer (probably a fan of Mara del Valle) was running after Gladys Reyes who actually tried to escape by climbing up a fireplace. She ended up getting roasted, of course (silly girl, not even Becky would go up a chimeneya to run away from Ms. Minchin).

It was the kind of So Bad, It’s Horrible type of movie that you would only want to see once in your life due to severe trauma, but couldn’t resist to mock whenever it would get shown on cable. It was also the reason why a number of my friends that I forced to watch with me ended up swearing off ever watching Pinoy films in cinemas. I hope you could forgive me, FDCP.

2. Bloody Crayons would probably be the millennial equivalent of that trashy movie, only this time produced by Star Cinema and starred a number of Star Magic starlets. Most of the previous horror films directed by Topel Lee had obvious influences from popular Asian counterparts and this one was no exception (albeit more of Hollywood movies from the opening film-within-a-film sequence used in the Scream series down to the other ones reminiscent of the Final Destination series, Identity, Cabin in the Woods, Don’t Breathe, and countless others of the same genre).

I hadn’t read the Wattpad novel that this was based on so I really wasn’t sure if the lack of originality was from the actual material or the treatment itself. (I was also confused by the separate original story credit given to its three writers when this was clearly an adaptation.)

3. The horror genre had always been the waterloo of our best local directors so I really wasn’t expecting much from this slasher flick. Unfortunately, it still lacked the fun and excitement of seeing mostly annoying characters get killed one by one. Really, all I hoped for was that the cast would be killed according to their acting prowess (naturally starting with the most bano ones), but that obviously didn’t happen with Ronnie Alonte and Elmo Magalona as two of the three remaining survivors.

I actually couldn’t decide who gave the worse performance since both of them could easily replace Aljur Abrenica as the real-life Machete. Ronnie still sounded like a talking robot jakono while Elmo acted like he was a hypnotized victim of the Budol-Budol Gang (except in one kitchen scene where he delivered his lines like he was having a seizure, complete with flailing hand movements). Seriously, mas gusto ko pa si Elmo nung nagpagulong-gulong siya sa burol with Julie Ann San Jose in Just One Summer.

4. Wait, a young wannabe director obsessed with shooting a horror movie near a body of water? Oh, Dawson Leery!!

5. I still couldn’t fathom why there had to be a sequence where the entire gang decided to go for a swim at the beach and they took their clothes off one at a time while the camera voyeuristically lingered on their young bodies (slow motion shots of topless, abs-less guys and granny bathing suit-wearing girls, really?!).

I could almost hear the director saying, “Pasensiya na kayo sa acting ni Ronnie. Eto additional three seconds ng pusod nya para di kayo masyadong lugi.” Next time please leave this type of sexploitation to the experts (yes, Seiko Films of course!).

6. Speaking of acting, I really liked the performances of Jane Oineza and Maris Racal. I wish they could be given more to do in future Star Cinema movies other than the typical best friend or sister roles.

On the other hand, could somebody please tell Yves Flores not to imitate Jake Cuenca’s “akting na akting” delivery? People laughed hysterically in the scene where he was screaming “Bro, anong nangyari sa’yo??” to a corpse with huge stab marks on its neck. Was he gunning for the PMPC Star Award for Best New Movie Actor?

7. If you’d seen a lot of horror movies (or read a lot of R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike) with fake twists and red herrings (this one reminded me of The Last Act), it really wasn’t too hard to guess the identity of the killer. All it took was just a single head shot to ruin the surprise.

8. I was really interested to know more about the Bloody Crayons game since it looked fun to play during a barkada night out. Sadly, I couldn’t see any group including it in any of their parties any time soon since the rules were just too complex (relative to Truth or Dare). Who would even remember what each color stood for when all of you would be presumably drunk on Red Horse?

Also, was it just my oily skin or do crayons really not work as markers on the face? Did they use craypas instead? So this should have been Bloody Craypas?

9. Where was this movie shot? (I noticed one of the characters was carrying a Bohol bag so…) The place looked gorgeous. At least maganda ang cinematography.

10. One character’s words of wisdom to another standing on a cliff: “Mag-ingat ka ha. Pag mahulog ka dyan, baka di ka na makabalik.”

Wehhh, di nga??

11. I wasn’t sure if I laughed the loudest when the group used a rattan chair as a battering ram, or when a character was miraculously saved from a gunshot by his dog tag, or when Umagang Kay Ganda suddenly played during the final sequence.

12. BBC One recently adapted Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None into a mini-series. Better actors, better production values, better use of your time.

13. Hanggang sa horror movie may hugot pa rin ang hindi maka-move on na killer? Tengene lungs.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL 8 (2006)

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13TH FLOOR (Rahyan Carlos) – The hokey back story couldn’t support this more (unintentionally) comical, less scary episode of the 8th installment. It was the kind of movie that was able to drag down veteran theater actors like Robert Sena and Isay Alvarez into Roxanne Guinoo’s level of acting. The scares happened really early and yet the Scooby Doo gang continued to stay in that haunted condo. If I see flying hotdogs on a cabbage or spirits of dead children, my first instinct would be to run as far away as possible. I guess these people really just wanted to be scared to death.

Rating: 1/5

YAYA (Topel Lee) – The biggest hurdle of this trilogy has always been the runtime for each episode. Forty minutes is just too short to tell a good horror tale and if you focus on atmosphere and special effects, you end up rushing the story. Iza Calzado makes a great manananggal but the material doesn’t give her much to do. Sheryl Cruz’s awfulness definitely doesn’t help. I had more fun watching Kris Aquino get terrorized by THE Lilia Cuntapay in the far superior Yaya episode of the 3rd installment.

Rating: 2/5

LRT (Michael Tuviera) – This episode offered the most scares among the three although it seemed to be in such a hurry to kill off its big cast (among them, the usually noteworthy Eugene Domingo and SRR staple Manilyn Reynes). We weren’t given enough time to care for these characters and since some were completely unlikable, I ended up waiting for them to be killed. The killer’s look came straight out of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village that I’m surprised he didn’t sue. Can we ask for more originality next time, please?

Rating: 2/5