Oct 21, 2019
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Machete Maidens Unleashed celebrates the three Bs: Blood, Breasts and Beasts

By TO411 staff writer Daisy Maclean

At a time when Hollywood budgets seem out of control and audience attendance is increasingly difficult to ensure, Machete Maidens Unleashed is a refreshing and unpretentious celebration of low-budget entertainment at its trashiest. Mark Hartley brings us a thoroughly engaging, no-holds-barred exploration of the blood-drenched and action-packed world of exploitation movies made in the Philippines in the’70s and’80s. 

President Marcos declared Martial Law in the Philippines in 1972, and ruling by decree, he truncated the freedom of the people, the press and closed down congress. In the midst of a brutal dictatorship the Philippines was still a dreamland for exploitation filmmakers, boasting cheap labour, exotic scenery and non-existent health and safety regulations. Soon renegade productions were engulfing drive-in screens around the globe. “Fighting back was forbidden, chaos was contained, indecency was punished and there was absolutely no sign of revolution – yet, these were the key ingredients of the Women-in-Prison films that the legendary b-movie mogul, Roger Corman, was producing over there at that time!” elaborates Hartley.

“I thought if I could re-invent this documentary to be predominantly a fish-out-of-water story about a motley group of Americans going over to this very dangerous foreign land (for the sake of saving a few bucks) and producing subject matter that was outlawed over there, then that would certainly be a documentary I would be keen to be involved in.”

Machete Maidens Unleashed has a solid selection of interviews including Roger Corman, Joe Dante, John Landis, Sid Haig, Eddie Romero and many more with cast, crew and critics, each with a hilarious and sometimes shocking story to tell about filmmaking with no budget, no scruples and – well, let’s face it – no clothes.

Appreciation for trash cinema can be an acquired taste, however understanding the origins of the films and the outside factors surrounding their production goes a long way towards a different kind of critical reading when watching them. The fact that the monster is just an awkward fat guy in a rubber suit becomes a point of entertainment rather than a reason to dismiss the film. But, whether the women’s roles were as empowering as some of the actresses claim in the documentary - that tests my suspension of disbelief. 

The documentary is definitely a crowd pleaser, chock full of vivid stories following the filmmaking from Women-in-Prison films starring genre favourites Pam Grier and Sid Haig, to politically-themed action movies like Cirio H. Santiago’s TNT Jackson, right up to the most illustrious – Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. The latter, was made in full cooperation with the Philippine military and apparently one day during filming the helicopters showed up late because they had been bombing villages in the south and before they started shooting they asked for a little time to switch to blank ammunition. Yes, please!

Unbridled, unapologetic and at times utterly ridiculous, this is one of the most entertaining docs I have seen in a long time.

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Front Page, Industry News

Machete Maidens Unleashed celebrates the three Bs: Blood, Breasts and Beasts

By TO411 staff writer Daisy Maclean

At a time when Hollywood budgets seem out of control and audience attendance is increasingly difficult to ensure, Machete Maidens Unleashed is a refreshing and unpretentious celebration of low-budget entertainment at its trashiest. Mark Hartley brings us a thoroughly engaging, no-holds-barred exploration of the blood-drenched and action-packed world of exploitation movies made in the Philippines in the’70s and’80s. 

President Marcos declared Martial Law in the Philippines in 1972, and ruling by decree, he truncated the freedom of the people, the press and closed down congress. In the midst of a brutal dictatorship the Philippines was still a dreamland for exploitation filmmakers, boasting cheap labour, exotic scenery and non-existent health and safety regulations. Soon renegade productions were engulfing drive-in screens around the globe. “Fighting back was forbidden, chaos was contained, indecency was punished and there was absolutely no sign of revolution – yet, these were the key ingredients of the Women-in-Prison films that the legendary b-movie mogul, Roger Corman, was producing over there at that time!” elaborates Hartley.

“I thought if I could re-invent this documentary to be predominantly a fish-out-of-water story about a motley group of Americans going over to this very dangerous foreign land (for the sake of saving a few bucks) and producing subject matter that was outlawed over there, then that would certainly be a documentary I would be keen to be involved in.”

Machete Maidens Unleashed has a solid selection of interviews including Roger Corman, Joe Dante, John Landis, Sid Haig, Eddie Romero and many more with cast, crew and critics, each with a hilarious and sometimes shocking story to tell about filmmaking with no budget, no scruples and – well, let’s face it – no clothes.

Appreciation for trash cinema can be an acquired taste, however understanding the origins of the films and the outside factors surrounding their production goes a long way towards a different kind of critical reading when watching them. The fact that the monster is just an awkward fat guy in a rubber suit becomes a point of entertainment rather than a reason to dismiss the film. But, whether the women’s roles were as empowering as some of the actresses claim in the documentary - that tests my suspension of disbelief. 

The documentary is definitely a crowd pleaser, chock full of vivid stories following the filmmaking from Women-in-Prison films starring genre favourites Pam Grier and Sid Haig, to politically-themed action movies like Cirio H. Santiago’s TNT Jackson, right up to the most illustrious – Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. The latter, was made in full cooperation with the Philippine military and apparently one day during filming the helicopters showed up late because they had been bombing villages in the south and before they started shooting they asked for a little time to switch to blank ammunition. Yes, please!

Unbridled, unapologetic and at times utterly ridiculous, this is one of the most entertaining docs I have seen in a long time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Front Page, Industry News

Machete Maidens Unleashed celebrates the three Bs: Blood, Breasts and Beasts

By TO411 staff writer Daisy Maclean

At a time when Hollywood budgets seem out of control and audience attendance is increasingly difficult to ensure, Machete Maidens Unleashed is a refreshing and unpretentious celebration of low-budget entertainment at its trashiest. Mark Hartley brings us a thoroughly engaging, no-holds-barred exploration of the blood-drenched and action-packed world of exploitation movies made in the Philippines in the’70s and’80s. 

President Marcos declared Martial Law in the Philippines in 1972, and ruling by decree, he truncated the freedom of the people, the press and closed down congress. In the midst of a brutal dictatorship the Philippines was still a dreamland for exploitation filmmakers, boasting cheap labour, exotic scenery and non-existent health and safety regulations. Soon renegade productions were engulfing drive-in screens around the globe. “Fighting back was forbidden, chaos was contained, indecency was punished and there was absolutely no sign of revolution – yet, these were the key ingredients of the Women-in-Prison films that the legendary b-movie mogul, Roger Corman, was producing over there at that time!” elaborates Hartley.

“I thought if I could re-invent this documentary to be predominantly a fish-out-of-water story about a motley group of Americans going over to this very dangerous foreign land (for the sake of saving a few bucks) and producing subject matter that was outlawed over there, then that would certainly be a documentary I would be keen to be involved in.”

Machete Maidens Unleashed has a solid selection of interviews including Roger Corman, Joe Dante, John Landis, Sid Haig, Eddie Romero and many more with cast, crew and critics, each with a hilarious and sometimes shocking story to tell about filmmaking with no budget, no scruples and – well, let’s face it – no clothes.

Appreciation for trash cinema can be an acquired taste, however understanding the origins of the films and the outside factors surrounding their production goes a long way towards a different kind of critical reading when watching them. The fact that the monster is just an awkward fat guy in a rubber suit becomes a point of entertainment rather than a reason to dismiss the film. But, whether the women’s roles were as empowering as some of the actresses claim in the documentary - that tests my suspension of disbelief. 

The documentary is definitely a crowd pleaser, chock full of vivid stories following the filmmaking from Women-in-Prison films starring genre favourites Pam Grier and Sid Haig, to politically-themed action movies like Cirio H. Santiago’s TNT Jackson, right up to the most illustrious – Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. The latter, was made in full cooperation with the Philippine military and apparently one day during filming the helicopters showed up late because they had been bombing villages in the south and before they started shooting they asked for a little time to switch to blank ammunition. Yes, please!

Unbridled, unapologetic and at times utterly ridiculous, this is one of the most entertaining docs I have seen in a long time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

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