The Shake Rattle & Roll franchise is rarely brought up as an example of the finest of Filipino cinema. It carries with it the baggage of what The Metro Manila Film Festival became: an annual tradition that didn’t seem to care much about giving Filipino moviegoers quality films to watch. People would groan about there being another Shake Rattle & Roll in the yearly lineup, its inclusion lumped in with the seemingly automatic participation of the likes of Vic Sotto, Kris Aquino, and Vice Ganda.
And while it is likely true that not much thought was put into adding a new installment of Shake Rattle and Roll to the MMFF lineup, the films of this franchise aren’t just mindless, yearly cash-ins. Not all of the movies are good, but in the course of its fifteen-movie run, the franchise has made all manner of interesting choices.
These choices will be evident to anyone who visits the Regal Entertainment page over the next couple of weeks. They will be releasing one Shake Rattle and Roll movie a day until November 8. The image quality of the older films are pretty rough, since they’ve never garnered enough respect to be candidates for restoration. But the quality of some of these stories really shine through.
One need only check the list of filmmakers involved to know that there’s more to this series than just the yearly grind. The very first movie has the iconic Pridyider, directed by National Artist Ishmael Bernal. When the series returned in the 90s, Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes would drive the whole franchise for a while, their genre expertise producing several memorable segments, such as Aswang and Yaya.
But things get really interesting once we get to the sixth installment. Part of what makes the franchise so interesting are the one-offs: these filmmakers who were given a relatively low-pressure platform to try things. It didn’t always work out, of course, but a lot of it is still worth a look. We get segments from actors, playwrights, production designers and special effects artists. Sometimes, the approach creates magic. Ukay Ukay, from Shake Rattle and Roll XII, is a wild, campy mess that at one point has Ruffa Gutierrez wielding a chainsaw.
Some of the films also became a chance for directors coming out of the digital indie scene to try their hand at a more mainstream project. We get segments from Rico Ilarde and Richard Somes. Topel Lee becomes a regular, as does Jerrold Tarog. Tarog’s Parola features a great performance from Kathryn Bernardo, and really stands out as a piece of quality storytelling.
And the franchise as a whole is just fun. It keeps trying things, and it mainly stays inside a distinctly Filipino context, mining our myths and urban legends to create these strange little stories of life just being a little off-kilter. It at least deserves a little consideration than it usually gets, and it might do people some good to push aside their prejudices, and look into what the series has to offer.
Playlist: SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL 2021