A Filipino horror gem unearthed -- and on the loose
Ought to, but Aswang sort of fell through the cracks, despite gaining some attention (not all favorable) as part of the Sundance Film Festival's first-ever midnight sidebar. Theatrical release never came to pass; the U.S. video distributor released it cut, redubbed The Unearthing, and dumped into low-end retail outlets. Fame and fortune did not ensue for the filmmakers, who've separately stayed active in various capacities — editing, producing, even directing a documentary record of Charles Nelson Reilly's one-man stage show — but never again created anything remotely like their crazily intense debut
The Mondo Macabro DVD release, out a few years now, has helped Aswang gain a small cult following, as well as regain its original title. Among factoids revealed in the extras are that most cast members were drafted from longtime Milwaukee avant-garde company Theatre X, though male lead Moses was, incongruously, a regional stage musical star. (Despite his memorably unhinged performance here, he seems to have never made another film.)
The making-of documentary is amusingly contentious, with some participants still discomfited by the paces they were put through, others retroactively doubting the directors' competence, scruples, or whether they even shot particular scenes. They may still not quite know what they got themselves into, but hopefully time will prove it was something perversely great. Aswang does aswangs proud.