every year, i try to watch as many mmff movies as i can. and i always prioritize SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL, the horror franchise that’s been invading christmases since… well, since 2005. or maybe 2004. i’m hazy on the details. have i been successful? no.
but one thing i’ve noticed in the three SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL movies i have seen (in recent years), there’s always one episode that’s outstanding and well made. of, course that’s not discounting the other episodes which were also good. in the first one i saw since the franchise’s reboot, it was “YAYA” with iza calzado and nash aguas. but it had a strong contender with “LRT” that starred keempee de leon, manilyn reynes, eugene domingo and a slew of forgettable young stars.
i wasn’t able to watch the franchise the year after that, but two years ago i attended the premiere night for SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL X–the tenth movie in the franchise. the strongest contender then was “NIEVES: ENGKANTO SLAYER” which starred marian rivera as the title character, and comedian pekto as her husband that all engkantadas (female elves) wanted for themselves. that year, it’s strongest contender was “CLASS PICTURE” which starred jean garcia as a catholic school girl’s worst nightmare: the nun from hell. though, since “NIEVES” is mostly comedy, i guess the best episode should be “CLASS PICTURE.”
this year, i had high hopes for SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL XII. i don’t know why, but i did. i guess it was because i’ve been enjoying watching the movies that i thought this year, they may have three mind-blowing episodes, instead of just two like they always do. now, i’m not saying the episodes these year were not as good as the previous years (i don’t think nothing can beat an evil christmas tree for the worst monster ever), but well– you be the judge.
here’s a breakdown of the three episodes:
“MAMANYIKA” capitalizes on the creepy doll device. most everyone knows about the CHILD’S PLAY franchise, but one of the scariest doll story i’ve read about was in an episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. yes, i said “read” not “seen.” i still haven’t found a copy of it–but i’m sure it’s somewhere out here in the internet.
back to the story, “MAMANYIKA” is about a little girl who finds a doll at a cemetery. having lost her mother, she decides to take it home with her and pretend that it’s her mommy. when it starts talking and telling her “mama loves you,” it’s as if the little girl had found herself a new mother.
the problem is, the doll doesn’t like sharing the girl’s affections. and, logic says, no one likes a doll that comes to life. so that’s the main dilemma of this episode.
i chalked this off as filler, hoping the following episode would be better.
it was, in a way.
“ISLA,” the second episode is about a mysterious young man who lives by himself in an island. by choice. according to him, he will stay in the island until he completes his promise–which he doesn’t reveal.
and then we have three happy-go-lucky friends who decides to take their vacation at the island. and they start talking about soul mates and destinies–and the female lead decides to go traipsing in the woods alone. smart move.
female lead decides to try finding out who her soul mate–who, of course, turns out to be the mysterious young man. but something also decides in making her the new queen of the under realm. and at this point, i figure that this episode was just an exercise in futility.
the premise of the episode was sound actually. the reason why my synopsis of the events are so lackluster is because i really disliked how the episode was made. it’s the classic story of persephone and hades, with an added filipino flavor. but when the only one likable character in the cast is the male lead’s sounding board–there must be something wrong with the casting, right?
near the end of the episode, i found myself cheering for the monster to kill off the main characters.
by the end of the second story, i found myself wondering what happened to the franchise. it was getting better. i mean, sure it was getting the effect it wanted: people were screaming inside the theater. but it was just cheap scares! that is, until “PUNERARYA” started.
it’s true what they say about saving the best for last. “PUNERARYA,” in my opinion, is one of the most well-written and well-made horror stories ever. and i think it now holds top position in my top five SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL episodes.
“PUNERARYA” centers on a teacher who takes on the job of being tutor to two special children. the children’s father is the owner of a funeral parlor, and the family lives just behind their business. everything seems a little weird inside the family home and the funeral parlor, but the teacher thinks she’ll get used to it.
that is, until she discovers that her youngest charge is being maltreated. when he is forbidden to tell her more about the abuse he’s getting, he decides to tell her the family’s secret through hide-and-seek. but what the teacher discovers about the family is something she might not be able to handle. and it’s not something the family would like anyone else to find out about.
nothing is what it seems in this last episode of SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL XII. this is the kind of film you get when you have a very well-written story, and you partner it with an amazing production team. everything is planted. nothing is forgotten.
you will be screaming your lungs out.
“PUNERARYA” alone is worth the admission price.