The CNN PH Life horror reading list

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Here are a few Spooktober stories from our archives that show how Filipino horror has developed throughout the years, from board games to wordless comics, and everything in between. Illustration by TIM LOPEZ

Pinoys love a good scare. Growing up, we are presented with stories that mine our collective imagination — whether it’s a bloody history of a house in your neighborhood or your school’s signature supernatural story. As years go by and we accumulate more things that excite and spook us, our foundation of fear becomes entwined with our personal histories and myths.

Director Jade Castro (“Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington” and “The Door Beneath the Earth”) summarized the notion of Filipino horror here in his answer to our question, “What makes a great Filipino horror film?”: “The particular fear of something — death, decay, the unknown, losing your freedom to a dictator, whatever it is — is what makes the prop or special effect work. It's the hidden motor that excites us when we watch and keeps us up at night. The deeper and truer the fear is inside us, the better.”

Here at CNN Philippines Life, we anticipate Spooktober with a string of stories that show how Filipino horror has developed throughout the years, from board games to wordless comics, and everything in between.

Below are some of the stories that our readers keep returning to over the years.

A still from South Korean horror film "The Wailing." Photo from WELL GO USA/YOUTUBE

We kick things off with our list of 7 terrifying South Korean horror films. CNN PH Life editor Don Jaucian wrote this in 2016 at the onset of the country’s second Hallyu wave. While the nation has since earned a wider global reputation for its creative industry, we maintain that these films are still guaranteed to keep you up at night.

Locals say that an elderly couple can be seen walking around the Herrera Mansion, while headless soldiers walk to and from the gates. Photo by NOLI DELA PAZ

For those looking to read something a little closer to home, we recommend: The horrific histories of Philippine haunted houses. In this 2016 piece, we compiled a list of some of the scariest real-life haunted houses in the Philippines. With histories dating back to World War II, The White House in Baguio to Bahay na Pula in Bulacan are just some of the places you may (or may not) want to visit for some homegrown chills and thrills once lockdown restrictions ease up.

Illustrator Ev Yu's "Goodnight" is about “how things that give us comfort become agents of horror." Illustration by EV YU

Last year, we tapped emerging and prominent Filipino comic creators and illustrators for a Halloween series called Creepy Wordless Webcomics. “Goodnight” by Ev Yu is about “how things that give us comfort become agents of horror,” while “Under the Skin” by Brent Sabas, which he says evokes “Gore and also fear of realizing ‘ako ba ito?’” 

Anyone looking for an easy weeknight scare in the days leading up to Halloween will find useful the recommendations in our list of 7 short horror films to watch with the lights out. All films on the list, including Erik Matti’s “Vesuvius” and Quark Henares’s “A Date With Jao Mapa” are available to watch online.

In Philippine myth and folklore, bloodthirsty monsters include a wide array of creatures other than the vampire, from the bebarlang of Mindanao to the supernatural Danag. Illustration by TIM LOPEZ

For those wanting to dig deeper into the lore and background behind the reasons for some of our childhood nightmares, we recommend: The bloodthirsty aswangs of Philippine mythology. Writer Yvette Tan’s deep dive into the aswang’s bloody background also puts the spotlight on the bebarlang of Mindanao and the sigbin of Visayas.

An illustrator reimagines some of the iconic creatures from Philippine mythology — complete with a new garb each. Illustration by MARI HOSALLA

There’s also our list of 8 Philippine mythological creatures reimagined, in which illustrator Mari Hosalla visually reinterprets deities like the Bakunawa, kapre, tikbalang, and other creatures from different parts of the Philippines, dressed in outfits seen in the Boxer Codex.

A longer, more comprehensive and true-to-tradition guide can be found in Edgar Calabia Samar’s “Mga Nilalang na Kagila-gilalas.” The pocketbook is an illustrated treasury of the beings that have captured the Filipino imagination.

Those interested in the more interactive experience provided by board games may want to try out the card game “Lagim.” The game’s objective? Survive the long dark nights of the 17th century to be the last Baryo standing. Available for purchase online, you may take a look at the set-up and read about its conception here.