Seven iconic and emerging scream queens in Philippine cinema

Seven iconic and emerging scream queens in Philippine cinema

Here’s to our very own final girls and antiheroines.

In horror, you’ve got your Lauries and your Nancys and your Sidneys — the oft-discussed final girl, a cliche that never feels like a cliche because you just can’t help but root for her. Closely tied to her is the scream queen: an actress who’s made quite a name for herself stacking horror title after horror title on her filmography. There’s Psycho actress Janet Leigh and her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis who recently kicked ass in last year’s Halloween, a direct sequel to the 1978 original. There’s also Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Katharine Isabel and Taissa Farmiga. If she can scream, cry, run for her life, and maybe even put up a pretty good fight, she’s got what it takes. 

But if this list is looking a little too Western and a little too white to you, we’ve got good news: we have our own crop of Filipino scream queens, and they’re just as culture-defining and worthy of discussion. Halloween may be over, but it’s not too late to celebrate the Manilyns, the Majas, and the others in between. 


One minute she’s carrying a baby, the next she’s carrying a monster — actress Janice de Belen starred in the most memorable Shake, Rattle & Roll titles, with two defining how bizarre Philippine horror can be: the aforementioned “anak ni Janice” who turns into a tiyanak in Tiyanak, and well, being eaten (in more ways than one) by a particularly nasty refrigerator in Pridyider. Not weird at all!


Kris Aquino goes by many titles: Game Ka Na Ba? host, OG artista vlogger, and of course, Box-Office Horror Queen. She puts the scream in scream queen, her signature shriek of horror drilled into our consciousness all thanks to Feng Shui (unrelated to Kris, but I definitely had our bagua taken down) and Sukob (also unrelated, but that flower girl is the stuff of nightmares). Kris also starred in several massacre films, but those deserve their own article.


Manilyn Reynes has been in five Shake, Rattle & Roll movies — that’s right, count ‘em, five. She’s faced off against all sorts of creepy creatures, including the undin herself, and she was an unsuspecting young woman brought by a friend to a remote town to be sacrificed in a horrific way before Ari Aster was even in kindergarten. Similarly iconic turns in Aswang, Multo in the City, and Bahay ni Lola followed, but she actually got her start in horror with the 1985 production Mga Kuwento Ni Lola Basyang, in the segment Zombies. Her characters are always innocent and naive in the beginning, but by the end, they’ve more than proved their worth with their survival instincts and strong wills.

Chaka Doll

Our country’s answer to Chucky, Bride of Chucky, and “Have we finally taken things too far?”, Chaka Doll comes from horror anthology show Kakabakaba. The horror manika, with an aesthetic and voice that can only say demented, was so popular that she even hosted the show’s horror comedy spin-off Kakabaka-BOO! and was love team to Unang Hirit‘s resident puppet Arn Arn. Again, have we taken things too far?


TV’s Killer Bride can trace her horror roots to her first projects: host to horror reenactment show Nginiig, Gabby in supernatural teen drama Chito S. Roño’s Spirits, clairvoyant Joya (she can see that effin’ flower girl) in Sukob, and as Agnes the TV remake of horror classic Patayin Sa Sindak Si Barbara. Fun fact: prior to Killer Bride, Maja took a break from starring in horror films, saying she started to wake up to voices in the middle of the night. You don’t get to be the country’s horror princess for nothing, I guess.


Who knew former Pinoy Big Brother teen housemate Beauty Gonzalez had it in her to be a drama lead and character actress, let alone a burgeoning scream queen? This year she starred in the iWant original Abandoned as a security guard who’s tasked to watch over what might be a haunted building — unless it’s her own mind she can’t trust. For Halloween, she turned the tables in the Dennis Trillo co-starrer Hellcome Home as a housewife who’s not all sugar, spice, and everything nice. 


In Haunted Forest, Jane Oineza played a teenager forced to start over with her estranged father in the province who, during an outing, is faced with supernatural forces who might be the reason women have been going missing and dying in town. However, she cemented her status as one to watch in Bloody Crayons. The slasher — so different from common local horror fare which tends to prefer the supernatural — revolves around a game of truth or dare that soon turns deadly for a group of students trying to finish their school project on a remote island. It’s like Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, but with more teen angst.

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