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Corazon: My Wife is a Harpy
"It’s refreshing to see an aswang movie that highlights the human condition more than good old folkloric evil," says our blogger.
By: Ria Limjap  |   Published on: Mar 23, 2012 - 9:20am


( Finally, an aswang not groaning under the weight of too much prosthetics! In Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang director Richard Somes, an accomplished and award-winning production designer, uses a lot of clever makeup and complex back story to transform the fragile beauty of Erich Gonzales into a veritable ghoul but skips the usual fangs and bloodshot contact lenses. There is no big reveal for the monster in this movie. As the title suggests, it is all about a crazy woman named Corazon, with shades of the immortally insane Sisa from Noli me Tangere and damaged pariah Kuala (Lolita Rodriguez) from the Brocka classic Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang, more than supernatural winged creature we all know and love. It’s refreshing to see an aswang movie that highlights the human condition more than good old folkloric evil.


In a small hamlet at the edge of a forest lives Corazon (Erich Gonzales) a young wife devoted to her (if might I add, super hot) husband Daniel (Derek Ramsay). All Corazon wants is to have a child, but because of the terrors she suffered under the Japanese during World War II, she cannot conceive. Kind hearted but shunned by the townspeople as a cursed and barren harlot (with Sue Prado being one of the most shrewish women in the village), poor Corazon must resort to the obligingly creepy and mysterious local albolaria for childbearing secrets. Told that she must drag the statue of a Catholic saint into the forest and pray for two weeks, Corazon obediently follows the advice and predictably enough ends up pregnant shortly after. Was it her fervent novena or the (quite hilarious and overly scored) love scene with the smouldering Derek that put the bun in her oven? Whatever it was, Corazon carries to full term, only to have a stillbirth which literally drives her crazy. Raging at God and awash with post-partum hormones, Corazon disappears with the dead infant into the forest and swears that no children will live in their small village again.



Watch the trailer here.



Somewhat inexplicably, the once delicate Corazon survives in the jungle wearing only her frilly nightgown, wrestling wild boars and eating little kids in the village. Soon the nightgown frays and she uses the boar skin as stealth cover at night. As if to signify her craziness, her hair goes from Pantene-perfect to teased forest-dweller wild. Despite her carnivorous diet, her lips are a perfect shade of Chanel Vamp and her eye makeup is artfully smudged. (One thing is certain: Erich Gonzales looks beautiful whether she’s perfectly groomed and pristine or perfectly art directed aswang. She acts with her eyes, communicating the depth of her tragedy better with her big black dewy gaze more than her screeching.)


Meanwhile, Daniel spends his time trying to find his wife in the forest. Convinced by his friends in the village (Epi Quizon and Mon Confiado) that the real killer is Matias (Mark Gil) the hacienda’s mestizo menace, until the daughter of Matias himself falls victim to Corazon’s appetite for small children.


In the end, surprise surprise, it is The Pinoy Male who saves the day. The good husband puts aside his natural prejudice and finds it in his heroic heart to take back his monstrous spouse. Daniel finds Corazon in the forest and despite her weird hair and awful breath, still loves her. Any lesser man would have skipped town long ago, but Daniel and his noble bravery—not to mention his fetching way of wearing native accessories—will stand by his wife. There’s a vague feeling that the transforming power of Daniel’s love and devotion will recall back his wife from the life of a serial killer. They run off into the forest in a swirl of (probably electronic) violins and a smoke machine haze and I’m left wondering what’s next for Corazon and Daniel. Possibly a life in the suburbs. Possibly a sequel—if they made enough money at the box office.


It seems all the aswang movies I’ve seen (including the one I worked on) suffer from convoluted plots, so we must depend upon other aspects of the movie for redemption. This is a fairly polished movie—with more than decent production design, cinematography, and editing—with glamorous network stars who look great on screen. It helps that Erich is simpatica and Derek is becoming better with the smouldering. It helps that they had wide release and marketing thanks to the ABS-CBN machinery. It helps that the poster was interesting. All these things helped in making apparently seven million on opening day.


Well, good for Richard Somes. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Ilonggos. I like their aesthetic and their sense of drama (and their approach to food). Of all the aswang myths I’ve come across, my favorite one again has Ilonggo roots. Joenar Pueblo’s experimental short Ang Romansa ni Tiyente Gimo kag Maria Labo is the version of the aswang myth that stayed with me the most because it was so strange and so filled with longing. But maybe this time we need a romantic comedy—I know, another rom com?—about Gimo and Maria, two lonely creatures locked in a bloody love/hate relationship for the ages.

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  • Lestat
    Hmmm sounds like a Let Me In rip off.
    Mar 23 2012 @ 06:27pm     Reply  
  • Miss Curiousity
    Jesuswasablackman, I think you're Arnold Clavio. It's a movie review and you still managed to make a comment questioning somebody's race. My goodness.
    Mar 23 2012 @ 03:19pm     Reply  
  • hope
    @Material Boy

    may point ka, si Derek has pinoy parent and he chooses Philippines, that's fine. Maipagmamalaki natin kasi nga pinili nya magpaka-pilipino.

    Whereas, yung mga pilipino na umaalis ng bansa natin at pinipiling magpaka-foreigner, lik emagpalit ng citizenship,iyon ang hindi natin puede ipagmalaki. How can we be proud of them when the truth is they left the country and choose to embrace other cultures, other countries. hindi ba kataksilan iyon sa bayang sinilangan? pero it is their choice so wala na sila right to be one of us.

    yung mga may lahi namang pilipino na dun na nakatira sa ibang bansa at ang parents nila ay ibang citizen na rin, opinyon ko lang, nauna ng nagtaksil ang mga magulang nila therefore, i can't be proud of them kasi kahit ano achievements nila it will not be counted as an achievement for the Philippines, it will always be kung saang bansa sila nandun. Ang race at lahi nilang pilipino ma-trace lang kung talagang bubusisiin ang kanilang pagkatao.
    Mar 23 2012 @ 02:56pm     Reply  
  • Material Boy
    Yes... Derek is Pinoy!

    He is of a Filipino parent... and he has lived here now for some time...

    The fact that he is here and whether by choice or circumstance, he embraced his 'pagka Pilipino'...

    Much as any Filipino who leaves the country for whatever reason and chooses to stay in another country would remain a Filipino...

    Funny how we venerate Fil-Ams or any Pinoy-blooded (but not Pinas-bred) celebrities who make waves abroad heralding Pinoy pride... yet we can bicker at those 'Balikbayan' artists who choose to be IN the Philippines and just happen to be successful here...
    Mar 23 2012 @ 02:41pm     Reply  
  • Jesuswasablackman
    "In the end, surprise surprise, it is The Pinoy Male who saves the day" - excuuuse me, Pinoy ba si Derek Ramsay???? Pardon my lapsing in Arnold Clavio mode though - has there been a shortage of PInoy-born and bred hunks lighting up local cinemas after Richard Gomez & Cesar Montano?
    Mar 23 2012 @ 11:52am     Reply  
  • Ilongga
    I love that Tinyente Gimo story.
    Mar 23 2012 @ 11:00am     Reply  
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