Tikoy Aguiluz is still shocked by the fact that the original trailer of his horror film Tragic Theater was given an X rating twice by the Movie and Television Classification Board (MTRCB).
During the December 18 presscon for Tragic Theater, the acclaimed director admitted that he was dismayed that the trailer was initially deemed "too scary" for public exhibition by the MTRCB.
"Actually, mabuti na lang hindi ako producer ng pelikula, so yung mga problemang ganyan kaya na siguro ng Viva [Films] i-handle ‘yan.
“Yung sa akin lang, first reaction ko nag-react ako sa Facebook [last December 10 and 11].
“Natural yun, e. Nagreklamo ako, ‘Ba’t gano’n? Horror ito.’"
On his Facebook account, Direk Tikoy posted: "Can't believe they gave an x rating twice to a trailer for a horror film: too scary was the verdict. akala ko ba horror film ito?"
The veteran director behind Boatman and Biyaheng Langit admits:
“Sanay ako sa X [rating] sa ibang pelikula ko dahil bold film.
“Pero ito [Tragic Theater] horror film. Nagulat ako bakit gano’n.
“And then, yung Viva na ang nag-ayos.
“And from what I’ve seen, hindi naman malayo sa original na cut ko [yung bagong trailer].”
The new trailer indicates that "a film theater collapsed during construction in 1981...more than a hundred people were believed to have been buried alive...In 1999, a group of spirit communicators attempted to exorcise the theater."
According to a synopsis provided by Viva Films: "When the film center collapsed during construction, it was believed that there were still workers who were alive but trapped by steel bars and were not rescued, but rather, cement was poured over them to avoid delay in the construction."
Andi Eigenmann is cast as Anne Marie Francisco, a young lady who spearheaded the exorcism. Christopher de Leon is cast as Bishop Agcaoili while John Estrada plays a priest who helps Anne Marie conduct a séance.
BASED ON THE MANILA FILM CENTER TRAGEDY. A film adaptation of a novel of the same title written by Gilbert Colonel, Tragic Theater depicts an exorcism held at the supposedly haunted Manila Film Center in Pasay City.
Gilbert, who was also present during the presscon, shared that his book Tragic Theater was based on the tragedy that took place at the Manila Film Center.
Back in November 1981, the reportedly rushed construction of the building resulted to the collapse of an upper floor scaffolding and allegedly left an unknown number of workers buried underneath the debris.
Gilbert further recalled what he knew about the said accident: “I was in college then.
“I remember one or two days after the accident, there is a big headline story.
“For two days it was on the front page, and then on the third and fourth day it was totally gone.
“There was this talk that there was a cover-up.
“On the book, I based all my facts on the news at that time. I did a lot of research.
“I’m very familiar with the film center because after the Manila International Film Festival [in February 1982]—that was the building was built for—they started showing movies from the Experimental Cinema of The Philippines.
“And my friends and I will watch the film that was shown there.”
As for the controversies surrounding the real-life tragedy, Direk Tikoy said that he’s ready for whatever feedback he’ll receive once the movie Tragic Theater is shown in theaters on January 8.
“Oo. Personally, alam ko naman ang sasabihin ko.
“I’m lucky meron akong producer, kayang-kaya nila kung ano man ang mangyari.
“Pero personally kung ako ang tinanong, sasabihin ko kung anong gusto kong sabihin,” said Direk Tikoy.
When prodded about his thoughts about his latest film, Direk Tikoy revealed that his production team wasn’t allowed to shoot scenes at the Manila Film Theater.
Direk Tikoy stated: “Siyempre, personally as a director, tatanungin ko kung bakit ‘di pwedeng mag-shoot sa Manila Film Center?
“Bakit hindi ko puwede gamitin ang word na Manila Film Center?
“Tatanungin ko yun. Tinatanong ko nga sa inyo, e.
“Bakit hindi kami pinayagan mag-shoot?
“I’m lucky meron akong producer. Bahala na ang Viva diyan.
“Yun ang aking attitude.”
I-WITNESS DOCUMENTARY AS RESEARCH MATERIAL. Direk Tikoy said that they depicted over a hundred actual victims of the tragedy, six of whom have speaking lines.
“Hindi namin ipinakita kung gaano kadami. Pero meron kaming mga espiritu na ipinakita, mga 120. Meron kaming anim na na-identify na may dialogue.”
The director of Tragic Theater mentioned that he gathered additional info about the accident from the October 2005 episode of GMA-7’s documentary show I-Witness.
Direk Tikoy stated: “Actually, meron akong nakitang footage ni Boy Sonza, yung GMA cameraman.
“Nakunan niya mismo yung aksidente.
“Tinago niya yung footage tapos nilabas niya bago lang.
“Nakita ko yun. Ang feeling ko may na-retrieve, naka-stretcher.
“Ginawa namin yung reenactment nun.
"Pero maraming kuwento na yung iba tinabunan na lang kasi hindi na nila ma-retrieve.”
“Pinaalis lahat yung media. Pinaalis lahat ng mga tao.
“Tapos nagkaroon ng cover-up, tapos tinabunan na lang yung ano.
“Kaya hindi talaga natin alam kung anong tunay na nangyari dahil wala ngang records ang CCP [Cultural Center of the Philippines].
“Ni yung pangalan ng mga tao walang nakakaalam.”
Direk Tikoy also cited what he learned from Gilbert’s book, Tragic Theater.
“As a matter of fact, ang reklamo nga ng mga espiritu, according to the spirit questors, gusto nila magkaroon ng proper burial.
“Malagay yung pangalan nila, may marker sa labas, [ma-identify] kung sino talaga sila para malaman ng mga pamilya nila.
“Yun ang kuwento ng mga spirit questors na nandun sa libro ni Mr. [Gilbert] Colonel.”