Growing up, my earliest viewing fare were double features that were a month or two behind Manila screenings. In those pre-MTRCB days, movie theater owners didn't lose sleep over choosing which movie to show with what. It was bad for business to play two popular movies in one screening, that much I understood. And thus started my first practical lesson in the Duality Principle.
Thanks to the "double with" movie runs, I learned to tell the good from the bad, the great from the so-so. This did me a lot of good in my film criticism class. I also saw "censored" movies way before I was legally supposed to. Contrary to what prudists think, movies such as Burlesque Queen did not turn my sisters and me into promiscuous, immoral "citizens." (Burlesque Queen was shown along with The Sound of Music, and our chaperone had to make a big show of covering our eyes whenever Vilma Santos appeared in skimpy stuff.)
Over time, I realized that the terrible movies had much more recall than the popular ones they were shown along with. I can no longer remember the general-patronage movie that served as my passport to the for-adults-only A Danish Love Affair. Or to the definitely-not-for-kids Lies My Father Told Me. What I do remember is that my sisters and I had a great laugh over the "mature" scenes and the dialogue (She: "Are you finished?" He: "Not yet." She: "Go on.")
Others that are in my roll of Bad Movies, Good Memories are:
Burnt Offerings, a "thriller" about a family who had the unfortunate lot to buy a haunted house. Weird Sister, who escaped to the canteen, thought it was safe to step back into the theater because there were no more screaming and yelling. When she reached the topmost step, she turned to the screen in time to see this scary face whispering: "I've been waiting for you." Needless to say, we picked Weird Sister up from the bottom of the "balcony" stairs, where she tumbled along with a giant bag of Chippy.The Exit, another of Tony Ferrer's Agent X44 (?) movies whose storyline I don't remember anymore. I do remember the title because it was the first movie shown in the "newest" moviehouse in town.
Scanners, a mind-over-matter thingie that had heads bursting and people twitching and dying. It could have been scary, but a schoolmate screamed her head off before a gory scene could take flight. She had the whole moviehouse laughing.
Digby, the Biggest Dog in the the World. Long before there was Clifford, there was Digby. I don't know why he got so bigger than big, but I do recall watching on a Sunday and the moviehouse reeking of packed lunch.
Ang Texas at ang Labuyo. My sisters and I must have seen all the Niño Muhlach movies, that is when Niño Muhlach was still cute. This one is particularly memorable because we watched it along with our cousins on the night of Lolo's funeral (It was a Monday, and since movies changed on Tuesdays, we just had to watch.) We were so many (Ma says we were 72 then, give or take a few babies) we had the whole balcony to ourselves.
100 Ways to Die. This one is downright horrible and takes the cake for being so low-budget (the bulk of the budget must have gone to Lorenzo Lamas, ha ha. Now why do I hear "Body Rock?"). My college friends and I watched it nonetheless, if only to bond.
Pido Dida. Mortifying, but (blush, blush) yes, I watched Kris Aquino's first movie. My friends and I did it on a lark, and because we didn't want to risk being caught watching, we chose one of the ugliest theaters in downtown Manila. Not only was the theater ugly: it stank! We had a great laugh at ourselves and the lengths we had to go to.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), my thing with bad movies ended with Pido Dida. I didn't want to cough up precious cash for something that cable TV would screen free. When I first moved back home (and terribly missed my one-movie-a-week routine), I decided to give the last surviving moviehouse another try. Mission Impossible II was screening, and I showed up really late so that I would miss the other movie.
Alas, Jomils had already gone to seed. It was impossible to make out what Tom Cruise was saying, and the screen had so many unsightly gashes and stitches. Fifteen minutes before "the end," they turned off the "blower," and we had to fend off sweat, mosquitoes, the smell of leftovers and a cat. A month or two later, the theater finally said goodbye to the movies, hello to fellowships and prayer meetings.
A dramatic turn-around, if there ever was one.