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Friday, March 2, 2012

Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010) review


Eddie Romero, John Ashley, Cirio H. Santiago, Sid Haig, Joe Dante, John Landis, Roger Corman, Jack Hill, Pam Grier, Marlene Clark, Steve Carver, Colleen Camp, Alan Birkinshaw, Jon Davison, and lots of other groovy people!

Directed by Mark Hartley

The Short Version: What began life as a Search For Weng Weng documentary, transmogrified into a green glowing blood beast of a movie documenting the harrowing, life threatening ordeal of shooting movies in the torrid jungle insanity that was the Filipino film industry. This magnificently mounted expedition into the bowels of grueling guerrilla filmmaking is a loving testament to a time in cinema history that will likely never happen again.

***WARNING! This review contains images of nudity, violence and rampant, tasteless sleaze!***


A sleazy and sordidly salacious stroll down memory lane reveals the trashy wonders that went into the weird and wild world of Filipino exploitation cinema as told by those who made them, acted in them, and very nearly died doing them. Take the Oath of Green Blood, grab your MACHETE and prepare to do battle with the UNLEASHED MAIDENS from one of the least explored, kookiest corners of Drive in trash movie heaven.

Blood, Breasts and Beasts--three vastly important ingredients necessary for a steaming pile of toxic Drive-in stew!

The delightfully demented minds behind NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD (2009) and the upcoming Cannon Films documentary, ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS, have concocted one of the single greatest documents of a film industry where life and the movies were cheap...dirt cheap. Joe Bob Briggs' three 'B's, Blood, Breasts and Beasts abound.

Girls Got Guns

Not known for its subtleties, making movies in the danger fraught jungle hell of the Philippines was a literal example of guerrilla filmmaking at its most inexpensive and perilous. Fans of the BLOOD ISLAND trilogy, the New World WIP pictures, the no budget wonders of Bobby Suarez and the mindless actioners from Cirio Santiago will have a field day relishing in a fast paced miasma of gleefully grotesque film clips and rollickin' recollections from a parade of actors, actresses and the filmmakers who made them.

The amazing enigma that is Weng Weng!

Lovingly compiled and oozing with a glowing green blood that would make Dr. Lorca proud, MACHETE MAIDENS lives up to its title and then some with its bevy of mud-caked, machete wielding wild women, machine gun toting mercenaries, gnarly, nasty looking monsters, one armed executioners and midget super spies. Originally envisioned as a documentary about the cult midget sensation, Weng Weng (FOR Y'UR HEIGHT ONLY), that auspicious undertaking soon morphed into this ambitious love letter, a cornucopia of kookiness that is the exploitational recesses of the Filipino film industry.

Hartley's diabolical documentary never shirks when it comes to presenting the Philippines as anything but a riotously out of control war zone where the behind the scenes stories were often just as, if not more entertaining than the films themselves. The director shows a grand hand at grasping the ideology behind exploitation movies and what makes them work. No doubt should he ever graduate to features, he could deliver a truly faithful interpretation of Drive in trash that several of today's self indulgent and delusional 'Masters of Horror' repeatedly fail to achieve. MACHETE MAIDENS opening credits alone capture the look, feel and spirit of the drive in experience in a way craptastic crud like the misguided and misbegotten GRINDHOUSE (2007) and the painfully juvenile claptrap that is CHILLERAMA (2011) attempted to wrangle.

Just be mindful not to get your 'Up Chuck Cup' and your soda cup mixed up; one tastes great while the other is less filling!

Hartley's MAIDENS is extremely entertaining and not just as a big bowl of party nachos dripping with melted cheese and salsa, but also as a fascinating history lesson. Prepare to be shocked and awed at some of the horrific tales and life threatening potentiality of making movies in the god-forsaken terrain of the dictatorial, Marcos ruled Filipino nation. Not only is there a goosebumper-crop of harrowing recollections of what nearly brought the films participants to the brink of death (and worse), there's also a candid overview of Coppola's majestically grim, Filipino lensed APOCALYPSE NOW (1979) brought to us in the words of the lovably, and brutally blunt R. Lee Ermey.

If there's any stumbling block at all, it's that the film may be perceived as a Corman-New World showcase. Considering there are a great many co-productions between King Corman and Filipino filmmakers, it's only natural they make up a heavy chunk of this 84 minute doc. Another area that's conspicuous in its absence is a lack of coverage on Philippine cinemas most recognizable export, the portly and bug-eyed Vic Diaz. The man is present and accounted for, but only in film clips with no discussion of his place among the ranks of the Coconut & Gold Republics torrid cinematic saga. With that aside, this a whip crackingly good movie that succeeds in both titillation and education of one of the darkest and wildest corners in movie making history.

This review is representative of the All Region Umbrella Entertainment 2 Disc Set.


Maynard Morrissey said...

I read lots of incredible reviews for MMU. Highly interested in this, especially because I haven't seen any movies from the Philippines yet.

venoms5 said...

Well this doc will definitely wet your appetite for some of them. The incredibly dangerous behind the scenes stories of making them is sometimes more wild than the actual movies.

Samuel Wilson said...

venom, I've been lazy about checking this out, though I saw a trailer some time ago. Thanks for reminding me about it; sounds good!

Kaijinu said...

I never really was that patriotic when it comes to my country's films. I guess you could blame by parent's western-influenced upbringing, but I never really considered our movies to be that "fun".

Still, I am surprised someone took a good lense to Philippine cinema, and even goes to footnote that blasted Dictator's rule. But I don't see myself changing this view as soon after as I gander on this.

Nice review as always!

Alex Jowski said...

I've been meaning to see this if only because of Margaret Markov.

Shaun Anderson [The Celluloid Highway] said...

Sounds intriguing Brian, I'll look our for it.

Maynard Morrissey said...

hey, nice new banner. Me likes it!

venoms5 said...

@ Sam: I think you will enjoy this quite a bit!

@ Kaijinu: Thanks for this comment! It's great to get some insight from someone who grew up there. That seems to be the way it is in other territories, including Asian markets such as HK. They, too, seem more preoccupied with westernized product than their own product.

@ Alex: It's worth buying, I think, Alex. I enjoyed it a lot!

@ Harry: Thanks, buddy!

@ Bill: Yes, I will refollow, no problem!

Apologies for the late replies, everybody!

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