How Regal Films changed Philippine horror movie landscape

October 31st, 2019

Regal films not only popularized horror films in the 80s. In many ways, the Mother Lily-led production giant helped mold Philippine cinema to how we know it today by innovating the way that horror movies are presented. These classic examples of Regal Films horror flicks are some of the most iconic and well-loved.

Shake, Rattle, and Roll (1984-2014)

This horror movie franchise spanned three decades and, with 15 installments, has the most among Philippine film series. SRR introduced the triple threat—each film is divided into three independent chapters. To this day, audiences continue to be creeped out by its stories about relatable characters in situations that turn quickly from mundane to sinister. Directed by a powerhouse triumvirate of Ishmael Bernal, Emmanuel Borlaza, and Peque Gallaga, SRR’s, first release in 1984 became one of its biggest hits. “Baso” was about a group of teenagers who were hounded by a malevolent spirit which they disturbed during a game of “spirit of the glass.” “Pridyider” was a haunted kitchen appliance that seduces women to its cool depths and turns contents to human parts such as sausages to chopped-off fingers and a cabbage to a decapitated head.

Tiyanak (1988)

“Ang anak ni Janice” quickly became a catchphrase after the movie Tiyanak came out in 1988. Janice de Belen’s character takes in an abandoned baby that turns out to be a kind of devil spawn. Called “tiyanak” in Philippine lore, the monster takes advantage of its adoptive mother’s affections to keep itself from being destroyed. De Belen, then already a celebrated dramatic actress, gave a convincing portrayal of a conflicted character who had to choose between love for her child and her own survival. It was directed by Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes.

Vampira (1994)

Long before Twilight was a movie that is considered a cult-classic among mixed-genre Philippine horror movies. “Vampira” was released in 1994 and topbilled by a stellar cast that included Maricel Soriano and Christopher de Leon. Soriano played a vampire set on overturning a curse that made her entire family bloodthirsty and hidden from society. She had to race the clock to save her family and at the same time her romance with a non-vampire, played by de Leon. Directed by Joey Romero, the film featured heavy dramatic chops and won Critics Circle award for Best Film.

Babae sa Bintana (1998)

Horror is not all folkloric monsters and evil spirits. Chito Roño proved this in his 1998 psychological thriller Babae sa Bintana. The story follows the very human characters played by Richard Gomez and Rosanna Roces, as an affair takes them to the nefarious underbelly of Manila. Tackling perverse behavior, Babae sa Bintana shows that the most evil darkness can come from within.

Regal Shocker TV Series

Such was the popularity of Regal Films horror movies that a TV anthology was created out of them in the mid-80s, which instantly became a cult hit.

Regal Films’ legacy changed the horror films landscape by taking horror to the mundane, injecting humor and relatability to characters, and layering genres to incite and give dimension to pure horror.

 

Contributed for InqPOP! by Arfie Koc. The author is a university employee and holds a master’s degree in history. In her spare time, she is a volunteer high school teacher who likes to lecture students about the perils of fake news. For feedback, email [email protected]

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