“Aswang” is one weird movie, make no mistake about that. The basic plot is that a young, unwed pregnant girl, Katrina (Tina Ona Paukstelis) is made an offer by a wealthy man and his wife to buy her baby. However, something happens to the wife and the next thing you know, Katrina is married to Peter Null (Norman Moses) and being taken to his lavish but remote estate in Wisconsin to “meet his mother” (if EVER there were sinister words in a movie…). Mrs. Null (Flora Coker) is a semi-invalid, toting around an oxygen tank and breathing apparatus like Frank in “Blue Velvet” and has a Filipino maid named Cupid (Mildred Nierras) to see to her every need. And BOY, does “Mother” have needs! See, Mom is an Aswang, a Filipino vampire that feeds on the unborn and has some unusual physical…attributes with which to accomplish this. There are some squirm-inducing aspects to this indie film including an early, fairly graphic sex scene which was necessary for…well, you’ll see, as well as Mother’s attempt on Katrina’s unborn child with her…physical attribute. And there’s also Peter’s crazy sister Claire (Jamie Jacobs Anderson) who is kept locked in a nearby rundown cabin – and Katrina has been strictly forbidden to stray near that area (always a bad idea to “strictly forbid” the heroine in a horror movie to do anything as the opposite is always the outcome). The story is pretty original – I’ll give it that – and the acting is adequate, especially Tina Paukstelis who has a memorable scene involving a gory escape from handcuffs, as are the SFX. This is just not a movie that is going to appeal to everyone, given the subject matter. It has some gruesome moments involving power tools and gardening implements and the ending has a neat twist not everyone will see coming.
Plus, there is a subplot involving a neighboring professor, Dr. Harper (John Kishline), staying in a cabin VERY reminiscent of the one in “Evil Dead” (and there is even some “Evil Dead”-like photography when Dr. Harper is returning to his cabin after dining with the Nulls) who keeps finding desiccated fetus cadavers buried all over the place and when Peter discovers the good professor nosing around… well, as he puts it, “We Nulls take care of our own” and the way they do it ain’t pretty as Dr. Harper puts in a later, grosser appearance after sister Claire pays him a visit.
The DVD is loaded with tons of extras for such a small indie film – two commentaries, a “lost scene” narration, audition tapes, the theatrical trailer, a 30-minute “Making of” documentary and a stills gallery.
“Aswang” was an Official Selection at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994 and Joe Bob Briggs himself sums up the film nicely by saying, “This movie is nasty.” You have been warned.