A vampire-like creature in Philippine folklore. There are several variations, depending on the locality. By day, the aswang is a female human (usually beautiful). At night, it detaches from its lower body (most descriptions say the creature has "no legs."). This half-creature has the ability to fly. Most of the renderings I have seen depict the creature as missing everything below the torso.

The creature has a penchant for children, especially unborn babies. It seeks out pregnant women (sometimes with the aid of birds). It has a long, slithering tongue, which it inserts into a sleeping woman's uterus, to suck out the child. The aswang usually appears bloated (as if pregnant) after feeding.

Some different local variations say the creature slithers on the ground, has bat-like wings, and can transform into a white dog. Some say the creatures floats (rather than flies). Others add that if the aswang licks a person's shadow, the person will soon die.

This creature is probably the same thing as the manananggal, but I've only heard it referred to as this. As a small child, visiting the Philippines, this is what relatives would use to scare my siblings and I to sleep. Of course, it usually had the opposite effect. This creature is commonly found in Filipino horror comics and other media. Most of the population seems to treat the aswang like the Western world treats the vampire - pure fiction. However, in the rural areas of the country, the more superstitious folk take more stock in it.

This is merely a conjecture, but the creature seems to be a merging of older folklore with the vampire folklore, probably brought by the Spanish colonizers. Commonly depicted ways of thwarting the aswang involves holy water and crucifixes, and that is ubdoubtedly a Catholic influence.


A young girl named Katrina is being driven to a meeting by her Puerto Rican boyfriend. She's Scotch-Irish and pregnant. He tries to convince her that an abortion is the way to go, but she decides against. Thus begins a movie so horrible that it might just be wonderful. It was released in 1994 and directed by former film students Wrye Martin and Barry Poltermann.

This movie cost under $200,000 to film, and that's what you have to realize if you decide to sit thru these 82 dreadful minutes of full-on gore and abysmal acting. This is one of those movies where you have never heard of one single person involved in it and you likely never will. One can only imagine how these thespians, who we know love to watch their oeuvre on their screens at home ad infinitum, must feel having this as their one shining moment in the cinema sun. It would be one thing if it were camp, and one could sometimes think that it was, with the homages to Rosemary's Baby and The Shining and even Blue Velvet. But you have to come away from this film thinking that the folks who made it were dead fucking serious about it, even though there is a chainsaw involved. And that's what is sad; the fact that they are taking it seriously. The real inspiration was most likely The Evil Dead, but it's highly unlikely that Sam Raimi would have had one of his characters hanging from her 90 foot tongue, dangling just a few feet above ground, looking for all the world like a human frog in a nightie.

Here's the basic story. There's this family called the Nulls who own a bunch of land out in the middle of nowhere (Wisconsin, I suppose). Peter is the son. He's got a crazy sister Claire out in the shack behind the mansion. He's paid young Katrina a bunch of money to have her kid and play along with his scheme. She'll pretend she's his wife Janine to fool the mother into thinking there's a Null heir. He tells Katrina that this is a prerequisite to him inheriting the Null fortune. (Get the "Null" irony. It's a joke. Is funny, no?) However, it's all just a thinly disguised evil plot to satisfy vampire blood lust. There's the Filipino voodoo midwife and cook tying nicely into the Aswang lore. (Except for the fact that her name is Cupid.) Otherwise, it's fairly incomprehensible how all these baby-sucking vampires wound up in Wisconsin.

It was shot in rural Wisconsin on 16 mm, and the transfer to what you see when you rent this film is actually quite good. The problem is not in the money spent on production qualities. The problem is the actors who are trying ever so hard to cross that line into immortality via the cheap horror movie and falling just about one emotion short. When Peter comes down to breakfast after having spent most of the night with his face planted in a drugged and sleeping Katrina's crotch and announces to his mother, "It's a girl!", one can only wonder how much worse it can get. And the answer is, "Plenty."

Since Netflix has become a part of our lives, it's been a hurdy-gurdy mélange in my rental queue. Who knows where they all come from? Some of you folks tell me to rent this or that. Some reviews I read tell me to rent something or the other. Netflix itself thinks it has become sentient and that it knows what I like and can tell me what to watch. I never know where the suggestions for these little red envelopes in my mailbox are coming from.

But I do know this. My teenage daughter had only one comment after the 82 minutes calling itself Aswang was over. "All I want to know is this. Who told you to rent this piece of crap? I want to hunt them down right now." I tried to convince her that it might have been so bad it was good, but she's not one to fall for that line. I'm not sure why I sometimes am. I think I might have thought Chiisuta was involved in all of this somehow.

Aswang - any of the evil beings in Filipino folklore associated with witchcraft, lycanthropy, vampirism or a combination of any of the three. According to the locals, an aswang is actually a human being substantially united with a dark entity. The entity dwells as a parasite in the aswang's body. Although an aswang child may be born of aswang parents, this condition of being an aswang is also communicable. Thus, an aswang does not always have to be female. There are different forms of aswangs, each having its own characteristics.

Types of aswang:

  • Caranioang Aswang (The Common Aswang) - the most well known type of aswang. During the day it appears as a normal person carrying out ordinary human activities. But at night, it covers itself with oils and transforms into a lithe wild dog, a bulky wild boar or a very large flying serpent. It usually preys on little children loitering in the streets at dusk. It will occasionally become a panther and steal chicken and other livestock. It will climb up the tree to hoist its prey. In some illustrations, the caranioang aswang is depicted as a grotesque flying creature closely resembling the chupacabra of South America.

    The essence of the caranioang aswang, called camandag, is transferred in the form of a small black bird encased in a thick leathery transparent pouch. When the camandag is handed over by a carrier to its new host (usually a younger relative), the potential swallows the camandag and obtains the attributes of the caranioang aswang. The potential then becomes the new carrier.

    Garlic wreaths hung at the window or on the door are said to be an effective repellant because the caranioang aswang, with its strong sense of smell, cannot stand the odor of garlic. Throwing holy water at the caranioang aswangs is ineffective because most of them, although choosing to remain unbaptized, live like Roman Catholic Christians whenever they are humans. They even attend Sunday services stepping out of the chapel only during the transubstantiation. To kill a caranioang aswang, one must stake it, or burn it.

    The male caranioang aswang is also called an impacto, while the female, an impacta. A juvenile caranioang aswang is sometimes called an impactito or an impactita.

  • Tiktik (The Screeching Goblin) - a flying aswang with a wingspan of up to 13 feet or almost 4 meters. It can travel over great distances in search of sleeping pregnant women, making loud high pitched cries. The tiktik can sneak into houses through the attic, air conditioning ducts or openings in the ceiling. It can crawl on walls and hang in an inverted position like a bat. With its target locked, the tiktik uses its acrobatic skills to suspend skillfully above its victim, before lowering its long slender, tubular feeding organ. It releases enzymes into the unsuspecting mother's uterus, digesting the unborn child. It then sucks its meal. Once found, the tiktik is relatively easy to kill. Stab it, shoot it with poison arrows, or feed it to the dogs. A submachine gun, automatic or semiautomatic, will also do the trick. For fun, clip its feeding organ and watch it starve to death.

  • Manananggal (The Disengaging Harpy) - a loathesome voracious flying monster with the head and trunk of a woman, the large leathery wings of a bat, and the talons of a bird of prey. It is often pictured without its lower extremities. Usually, the manananggal is a human female. But on very dark starless nights, it becomes a hideous creature, separating from its lower half and then flapping its wings to fly. It will eat any warm blooded animal it finds, including humans. Tossing sand, dirt, or salt on its remaining lower half will prevent it from reattaching, causing it to die.

  • Aswang Lipad (The Soaring Goblin) - distinct from other flying aswangs because it keeps its human form and does not need wings to fly. After taking its clothes off, it applies under its armpits a green oinment made of herbs and fat, before rising into the night. It rides the current, as though swimming on its back, in search of a fresh corpse. Finding one, it takes only the liver and swiftly departs. It is never known to feed on living men, although reported cases of dead farm animals with missing livers have been blamed on the aswang lipad. Citrus fruits take away its ability to fly.

  • Aswang Gala (The Wandering Goblin) - a nomadic aswang that feeds directly on the energy of sick, weary, stressed, or dying mortals. It appears very human, usually working in hospitals disguised as a nurse. Because it does not display its supernatural nature, it often remains undetected. An aswang gala can be identified by staring into its eyes, which reflects images upsidedown. There is no known method to vanquish the aswang gala.

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