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Karate-kicking midgets! Paper-mache monsters! Busty babes with blades! Filipino genre films of the '70s and '80s had it all. Boasting cheap labour, exotic scenery and non-existent health and safety regulations, the Philippines was a dreamland for exploitation filmmakers whose renegade productions were soon engulfing drive-in screens around the globe like a tidal schlock-wave! At last, the all-too-often overlooked world of drive-in filler from Manilla gets the Mark Hartley (NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD) treatment in Machete Maidens Unleashed! This is the ultimate insiders' account of a faraway backlot where stunt men came cheap, plot was obsolete and the make-up guy was packing heat! Machete Maidens Unleashed! features interviews with cult movie icons Roger Corman, Joe Dante, John Landis, Sid Haig, Eddie Romero and a large assembly of cast, crew and critics, each with a jaw-dropping story to tell about filmmaking with no budget, no scruples, no boundaries and - more often than not - no clothes.... Written by
This is a very entertaining look at a specific time and place in the history of exploitation film-making. It documents the rather strange scenario where the Philippines became a hotbed of psychotronic cinema production between the 60's and early 80's. While I haven't seen more than two or three films that were made under these conditions, it didn't stop the film from being interesting and entertaining. In fact, like many similar documentaries Machete Maidens Unleashed! is most probably a lot more enjoyable than the films it features. Instead we get many, many clips from these crazy films, so it's difficult to get bored.
The films themselves range from the schlock horror of the 60's, via the women-in-prison flicks of the 70's to the martial arts action films of the 80's. It takes the form of the talking heads format where many of the participants tell us about their experiences working in the field. And perhaps unsurprisingly very different rules applied in the Philippines. There's a lot of humour in the presentation. No one is under any illusions about the seriousness of the movies, yet you will no doubt come away from this and have two or three new films you want to seek out. And I suppose with all that in mind, Machete Maidens Unleashed! has done its job.
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