Saturday, August 28

Don't You Dare Blink

wagkukurap.jpg taken from website

Wag Kukurap, GMA 7's new scare show hosted by Dingdong Dantes, portrays the supernatural and horror stories based on people's real life experiences. The opening scene of each episode of the twinbill declares that it is "halaw sa karanasan ni x/y movie star."

Episode one was about Sex Bomb girl Jacque Esteves' hair raising vacation in her grandmother's house, the proverbial "bahay ni lola." Jacque's visit was punctuated by appearances of severed hands bound by chains under the dinner table. If it continued, she would have died from sheer hunger and maybe bulimia. So poor Jacque couldn't sleep and clamored for dear lola to look over her while she slept.

The lola was played by Lola Oba from Surf's Lumen ads, and she promptly abandoned the poor girl the moment she closed her eyes. Suddenly, heavy breathing could be heard from underneath the bed. It could have been (1) a stalled airconditioner, (2) baradong tubo, or (3) a ghost with asthma and very poor breathing skills. Jacque screams when she saw #3, ghost turns face to her, perhaps to ask for help so it could breathe, but no, she screams her lungs out. At least we know that Jacque Esteves has very healthy lungs. Lola Oba is roused from sleep, joins her apo in the screamfest, and she reaches for the rosary and they pray.

Now praying is the all purpose solution when haunted by asthmatic ghosts,when you're stuck in traffic, and when stupefied by the stupidity of airline people in another country. It might not work all the time, considering the sheer amount of prayers that must be received at any one moment. But it's well known that if you are clutching a rosary while uttering either Our Father or Hail Mary, it could work. The previously production designed dark room will light up, sky and smoke will clear up and clouds will disappear, there will be bright light and you are saved from evil forces.

The same thing happened to Jacque and her lola. Supposedly, the spirits are roused into activity whenever somebody new enters the scene. Lola Oba has attempted countless of times
to sell the house, but the prospects would be scared shitless and thus eventually purchase condo units in places where ghosts appear as elevator passengers. But that's another story.

The second half of the twinbill focuses on Wilma Doesnt's tiktik experience. Local lore says that pregnant women are especially vulnerable to beings who snack on unborn babies. Tiktiks can morph into black dogs, cats and can also turn into winged creatures. Tiktiks rarely give out interviews, but the tiktik featured on the show declared that provinces
are not the only places where they live, there are also urban tiktiks, as everyone knows that cities are dense and
have a lot of pregnant women.

But usually urban women cannot be bothered with tiktiks. Eight months pregnant, Wilma accepts an invitation to lounge in a far flung resort where it turns out she and her friend were the only guests. The second Wilma gets off the SUV she drove herself, two huge black dogs surround her, and they disappear when we are introduced to the resort manager who enquires about Wilma's husband. She doesn't have one, and then I was dreading that the manager would morph into a moralist and drives her away. But no, they are welcomed and proceed to lounge by the pool at noontime, when the sun's directly over their heads. The resort has a resident masseuse
named Aleli who caresses Wilma's arm with enough desire to fuel a mass railway transit.

The actress who played Aleli reminded me so much of Ana Capri, it could have been Ana Capri sleepwalking through the role. If you would recall, Ana Capri also played a tiktik in
local tv not too far ago. In ABS-CBN's Nginiig has her and Gardo Versoza as furrow browed tiktiks who can't help but eat their human neighbors. It is my belief that Ana Capri can tackle any role given her with class even if said role is tacky.

At any rate, the girl who played Aleli looked like a two bit bold starlet who thinks she's on a lesbian porn shoot. Later that night, Aleli presents herself to Wilma and friend and offers her "services" so that the pregnant woman could "relax." She leads Wilma away from her friend. Wilma relaxes on the bed while Aleli the masahista oils her up. Aleli tells her that pregnant women emit a strong, desirable scent that attracts a lot of, er, beings. Aleli touches Wilma's swollen belly, drooling at its pillowcase bumpiness. wilma starts to dose off and seeing Aleli then makes her move. The real horror is about to begin.

Aleli joins Wilma on the bed and mounts her. She lowers her face on Wilma's belly and a sturdy and long tongue starts to descend from her mouth. Argh! It looked like she was going to rape the pregnant woman. But her intentions are thwarted
when Wilma's best friend enters the room and finds them in that compromising position. Aleli and W'sBF face it off and Aleli gets stunned because W'sBF is wearing a necklace with a crucifix pendant. She runs out and we hear the batting of huge wings. Wilma snaps out of her reverie and W'sBF tells her about Aleli's evil plans. They hear the flutter of wings coming nearer and then the resort manager comes to the rescue.

They make a run for the SUV. He carries a torch and thrusts it at the camera. We assume it is Aleli flying but it's actually the camera man perched on a crane and shooting the entire scene. It was actually pretty cool.

At this point, they are beside the car and they cannot find the key. Now here's the thing, when you are escaping huge flying beings and you are pressed for time, please do remember to bring the key with you. Do not count on the pregnant woman to bring stuff with her all the time. Also remember that there will always be resort managers who will pop up when you need them.

In the end, Wilma Doesnt escapes the tiktik attack and goes on to have a healthy baby. We never hear whatever became of Aleli, but it helps to know that one shouldn't really be too friendly with resort masseuses anywhere.

Wag Kukurap ups its hair raising qualities by using real stories from real people. The interviews pop in and out of the scenes, sometimes used in voiceovers. Dingdong Dantes functions as a recapper, like all people who host a reality based drama. As to be expected, the production design is geared towards scaring people--thus, the dark sets, shadows falling over everything. There are fast cuts and extreme close ups of faces of the religious statue with tears down its face, or the raindrops outside the huge capiz windows. There are stingers, like the unnamed woman with a bad hair day standing by the window in Jacque's lola's house. All in all, the usual thing.

The show is also the first directorial job of Jun Lana, writer of Sa Pusod ng Dagat, Jose Rizal, and Sagad sa Init, among other things. He hasn't come up with a film for a couple of years now, and if memory serves me right, the last one was Ara Mina's Two Timer by Mel Chionglo.

Wag Kukurap* is GMA's latest contribution in the horror genre after the short lived Sa Dako Pa Roon hosted by Jaime Licauco, and after it cancelled the long running Kakabakaba which became Kakabakaba Adventures, which in turn is a cross between Goosebumps and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Pinoy pop media has a tradition of scary shows (Marina and Sing Galing are both scary, though not in that particular notion of horror) which can be traced to Gabi ng Lagim, a radio show from an earlier era which used coconut husks thumping on the floor to scare its listeners, and then there's Pinoy Thriller and Regal Shocker in the 80s. The fascination with horror extends to the movies, and the definitive Pinoy hair raiser is Shake, Rattle and Roll. Tales of manananggals and dwendes, witawits and possessions, and even hauntings caused by failed abortions were staples. But more on the Pinoy fascination with scary things later.

*Really, the title may be confused with the Master Showman tagline "Walang Tulugan," you might as well say "Walaaang Kurapaaan!" But then again, that's just me.

Note: The woman who played Aleli the tiktik in Wag Kukurap's pilot episode is a bold starlet named Hanni Miller. She doesn't really have that much recall, and the grand total of 2 films she was in were really sort of negligible. Except perhaps for Silang Mga Rampadora, which was outrageously bad it can be funny in a murderous sort of way.

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