ASWANG **** USA 1994 82 mins (Unrated Version)
Within the mostly tame and unimaginative world of early 1990s American horror, ASWANG is an odd and gruesome stand-out. Seen at the start entering into a peculiar pact for a weird couple, the heavily pregnant heroine should have fled from her husband’s remote Filipino ancestral home as soon as the housekeeper (named Cupid) listens to her pregnant belly and gleefully exclaims “Nearly ripe”. Built upon the Filipino legend of the “Aswang”, a unique vampire that feeds on the unborn, this tiny-budgeted indie borrows some of the visual tics and atmosphere of THE EVIL DEAD but concentrates on the kind of sexually charged, surrealistic imagery more commonly found in Japanese horror movies. (With more than a hint of influence from Cronenberg and BABY BLOOD). It escalates into a series of disorientating scenes of physical horror involving tentacle violation, penetration, a violent chainsaw / hoe duel and lots of phallic, slimy 80’s style practical FX. Less interesting is the husband character turning into a kind of Jack Torrance-lite and a generic 80’s-style “shock” ending, but much of the movie is strikingly original and, before INSIDE, it probably features horror’s most tormented pregnant woman.
Review by Steven West