Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Billy Zane & Joel Torre Take on the Aswangs in "Surviving Evil"

It was a bit surprised to find this title, Terence Daw's "Surviving Evil" which follows the adventures of a documentary team as they head on to the jungles of a mysterious island - "Mayaman Island, in the Visayas seas" to film the famed Isarog Tribe. Sure, they've heard of the folk tales about the "aswangs" - described as vampire-like creatures who feed on human flesh and drink human blood. They live on trees; they fear fire, and cannot go underground. Their method of reproduction by incorporating their souls with the fetus in pregnant women.

Billy Zane stars is the documentary show's star Seb. On board this journey are Seb's crew: camera man Dex (Colin Moss), his lady producer, a P.A./gf (Christina Cole), an entomologist Cecilia/Chill (Natalie Jackson Mendoza) and a local tour guide Joey (Joel Torre) - who has an ulterior motive, other than providing professional tourist service!

This is far from being a masterful work, but what drew me in is the reference to the Philippines' rich folk lores involving aswangs and balete trees. But what bewildered me was where they filmed the movie: not in the Philippines! The jungle scenes were shot in Durban, South Africa and Epping Forest (misspelled "Forrest" at the credits). Pinay-Australian Natalie Jackson Mendoza registers beautifully (like she did in the British suspense film, "The Descent"). At one scene, she was asked to sing a local song - "Bakya Mo, Neneng" - while sitting in front of a bonfire! And how she marveled everyone with her bell-like voice. Truly a Pinay artist, everyone should hear this very short number! Atta girl, Natalie! In another scene (where she walked along the shore with pretty boy Colin), she comments about her university degree, "Not all Filipinas are maids or nannies, contrary to popular belief!" Two points from me! Some of us are walking princesses! LOL

Joel Torre had to fly to London and Durban to film his scenes. Lucky guy! The good news is, his role was a substantial character. He provides the side story (rendering the whole narrative a bit murky, since it strays away from where its audience should have focused their attention on). Besides, aren't we tired of the lure of the Yamashita Treasures? Bury it forever or let's leave that to the brain-impaired, sex-starved boys of "Santuaryo".

Well, we were prepared for the eventual carnage to take place, but you'd be surprised to learn who survived. Give me a holler and I'll whisper. ;->

Billy Zane is Sebastian Beazley.

Natalie Mendoza sings "Bakya Mo, Neneng" with her Lea Salonga voice. The closing credit features a song called "Alone Again" which was composed (with Eliot Kennedy) and sang. Would have made a great "Mary Jane Parker" in the musical "Spider-Man".


Colin Moss is a popular media personality in South Africa where he was based (in Durban). He "presented" (that's "hosting" to us mortals) several seasons of a reality talent show called "Idols" (seasons 2,3 and 4) and "Fear Factor (South Africa)" season 1. With brown hair, green eyes, and that irresistible masculine beauty, no amount of roughing up his looks could hide how delectable he is in "Surviving Evil".

Be still, my beating cardiac muscles. LOL

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