Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Basag ang pula (1984)

... aka: Crazy
... aka: Insane

Directed by:
Ben Yalung

After passing by a strangely silent man sitting by a fire, attorney Abad (Vic Silayan) picks up his teenage daughter Diane (Dang Cecilio). It's late at night when the two head down a deserted stretch of road and run out of gas. The father gets out to try to look for help and doesn't return. Diane is then terrorized by a psycho with blood all over his hands who first attempts to get into the car and then produces the father's severed head before killing her (off-screen). The killer - Fernando (Ace Vergel) - is next seen in the slums collecting rats in a cage by the sewer, which he then takes back home to torture and kill. Unfortunately, a real rat is shown actually being tortured (singed / set on fire repeatedly with some kind of hot iron). Fernando then flashes back to his traumatic childhood with his horrible mother (Lucita Soriano), who frequently locked him up in a closet where rats crawled on him and then repeatedly smacked him in the face when he caught her with one of her lovers.

Later that night, Fernando spies on a couple necking in their car and decides to punish them. He jerks the boy out of the window and stabs him to death but the girl escapes and runs down the highway in her bra until she finds a police car. A foot chase through the woods ensues but Fernando manages to lose the cop. Now with a bunch of police out patrolling the streets looking for him, Fernando ducks inside a parked school bus. Just seconds after he stabs the driver to death a bunch of schoolgirls from St. Anne's Academy start showing up. It turns out the bus is there to take them to a secluded vacation retreat to celebrate their upcoming graduation. The police, led by Lt. Miranda (George Estregan), swing by to warn them that there's a sex maniac on the loose, but the girls don't seem to care all that much. They're heading out of town, anyway, right?

After getting rid of the body in the bus and finding himself some non-bloody clothes, Fernando impersonates the driver so he can flee the city. He takes the girls, along with uptight headmistress Nida Rivera (Armida Siguion-Reyna) and her younger assistant, teacher Patria (Liza Lorena), to their rented lodge in picturesque Baguio City. There, they'll indulge in swimming, aimlessly wandering around in the woods, giggling, extremely corny "getting to know yourself better" activities, even worse "how to be an upstanding young woman" seminars and, of course, dying. Unfortunately there's a huge block of time after the bus driver is killed where no one dies at all and the killer is barely even in the film.

To try to make up for that, they keep cutting back to Manila to boring scenes where the police try to get an ID on the suspect and bits where we learn a teensy bit more about some of the girls. One of them - Chiqui (Snooky Serna) - happens to be a dead ringer for Fernando's late girlfriend (who was gang raped and murdered by some thugs) and thus ends up receiving a bunch of unwanted attention from the nut. And then there's Elizabeth (Debraliz Valasote), who is chubby and thus loud and obnoxious and thus constantly used as annoying comic relief, along with the obese, mentally-retarded handyman Diego (Bomber Moran), who speaks only in moans and grunts. In a surprisingly sleazy subplot, young Leni (Angela Perez) is having a secret sexual liaison with the butch, stern old headmistress. Well, OK, but when are these people going to start dying?

An hour into the movie and forty minutes since his last kill, Fernando catches one of the girls - Paz (Maritess Samson) - having awkward standing-up-facing-each-other sex in the woods with her boyfriend. After he leaves, Fernando grabs her and slits her throat. Immediately after, the horny resort owner, who was previously rejected by Fernando, tries to seduce him a second time and ends up with a knife in her back. The girls use the cheapest looking Ouija board ever (made with a white sheet of paper, a marker and a drinking glass) and manage to contact a spirit who claims to be Paz and tells them she was murdered. Nonetheless, a couple of girls go out during a thunderstorm to look for their missing friend and one of gets slashed to death. Paz's boyfriend Joseph (Ricky Davao) returns only to get stabbed to death in his car while listening to the Rocky (?!) theme music. Others are stalked and killed, sometimes accompanied by a "London Bridge Is Falling Down" instrumental.

There's lots of wandering around looking for people and calling out names, dancing and pot smoking around the campfire and a bizarre scene of the headmistress attempting to hypnotize Chiqui so she can have her way with her but instead getting stabbed in the face after the killer sneaks into bed in Chiqui's place. Sound trashy? Well it kind of is but this isn't trashy like other countries trashy films. Despite there being a psycho killer running amok, rapists, a perverted lesbian, sex, a high body count and a gaggle of nubile teen girls running around, there's no nudity, next to no real gore and little variety to the kills. Most of the murders don't even show any blood. And none of that bodes too well for what is basically just a run of the mill slasher flick... especially one that runs 118 minutes! Shame too because the first 30 minutes are pretty decent, especially the opening sequence.

Vergel, who is pretty effective under the circumstances, was nominated for Best Actor at the FAMAS Awards (the Filipino version of the Oscars) for his role. Never English dubbed or subtitled, this is mostly in Tagalog but with some words and sometimes entire lines spoken in English. Either way, it's not difficult to follow. The only available prints I found are both very washed out but I doubt a better quality version would really help matters much here.

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