MANILA -- Last seen as a pop culture craze in the '70s and '80s, so-called "bold" or "bomba" movies are slowly making a return to mainstream cinema, with no less than acclaimed film directors at the forefront.
Set to premiere on January 30, "Seduction" sees the team-up of Richard Gutierrez, Sarah Lahbati and Solenn Heussaff in a romance-drama that promises "daring" scenes.
The Regal Films project is directed by Peque Gallaga, who is behind the acclaimed films "Oro, Plata, Mata" (1982) and "Scorpio Nights" (1985).
In a trailer released for the film, Heussaff is seen emerging from a swimming pool wearing a two-piece bikini, reminiscent of the "wet look" trend among leading ladies in '70s sexy flicks.
Upcoming actress Yam Concepcion similarly wore the "wet look" for some promotional images of the sexy film "Rigodon", which was released in November last year.
For director Erik Matti, who was behind "Scorpio Nights 2" (1999), Concepcion's launching movie was calculated to "aim for the mature audience."
In an earlier interview, Matti noted that local film offerings were either of the romantic-comedy or horror genre. These genres easily became the trend, following the release of various sexy films directed by Matti over the years -- "Ekis" (1999), "Dos Ekis" (2001) and "Ang Huling Paghihintay" (2001).
Apart from "Rigodon" being Viva Films' take at reviving the sexy genre, the film was also billed as the introduction of Concepcion as a "sex goddess". The tag, once associated with sexy star Joyce Jimenez, has become a way of packaging Concepcion as an actress.
Similarly, showbiz newcomer Meg Imperial is being launched as a "sexy star" via the Joel Lamangan film "Menor de Edad," set to be released on January 23.
Like Concepcion, Imperial debuted on the cover of men's magazine FHM last year, and is a talent of Viva Entertainment.
In "Menor de Edad," Imperial portrays a 15-year-old student, whose initiation into a sisterhood entails her to seduce her teacher (Wendell Ramos).
"This is sensual," Imperial told ABS-CBN News at a recent press conference for the Joel Lamangan film. "Kasi mabigat po 'yung story. Siguro kung ilalagay po nila sa TV, kailangan po nila bawasan dahil sa sobrang bigat ng storya."
Unlike earlier sexy movies, however, similar films today are no longer as restricted in terms of viewership.
In October last year, Movie Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) rolled out the "R-16" film classification, in addition to "General" (G), "Parental Guidance" (PG), "R-13" and "R-18."
"'Yung mga teenagers na 13 to 14 years old, iba na ang mga pag-iisip niyan sa 16 years old eh," former MTRCB chairperson Grace Poe-Llamanzares explained at the time.
"Syempre pag R-18, halos wala nang restriction diyan. Sex can be more explicit, drug use can be a little bit more literal. But at least, we are assuming that the audience is already 18 years of age, so they can make the proper judgment. Pero 'yung 16 meron ding mga sex scenes, but definitely not as literal as R-18," she said.
Sex scenes have, nonetheless, become prominent among recently released romance-drama films.
While adhering to the limitations of being classified as R-13 -- thus allowing a broader viewership -- movies like "No Other Woman" and "A Secret Affair" (2011) had a number of scenes implying sexual intercourse.
Both Viva Films productions went on to become box-office successes. Currently, "No Other Woman" is the third highest grossing local film of all time.
More notably, the 38th Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry "One More Try" was a big hit among moviegoers. Like "No Other Woman," the Star Cinema bet was rated R-13 by the MTRCB and was directed by Ruel Bayani.
In the film, lead stars Dingong Dantes and Angel Locsin are seen acting out having sexual intercourse. Among other "adult" and moral themes, the various extents of showing and implying sex in the film contributed to its R-13 rating.
Despite its more limiting film classification, compared to the more accessible G- and PG-rated MMFF entries, "One More Try" finished second in the list of top-grossing films at the yearly film fest's conclusion.
Locsin's scenes in the film also spelled the actress' transition to a more "mature" actress -- perhaps only a few notches behind the more "daring" packaging of new-era "sexy stars" like Concepcion.
"[There was an era] when teen actresses wanted to bare—’yung may gusto lang silang mapatunayan," Matti was quoted as saying by news site Interaksyon. "Now all of them are married and have their own families. Tahimik na ang buhay nila. Pero once upon a time, men fantasized about them."
Referring to his goal of bringing adult themes back to Philippine cinema, Matti added, "Mas maganda kasi na we have different choices. And we get to develop more actors who are willing to do these kind of roles."