Friday, April 15, 2011

Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010) - ActionFest Buffet 2.0: Plate #1

On the Menu:

Ingredients: Roger Corman, John Landis, Joe Dante, Sid Haig, Patrick Wayne, Judy Brown, Allan Arkush, R. Lee Ermey, Jack Hill, Dick Miller, Eddie Romero and Colleen Camp. Directed by Mark Hartley. Run time: 85 minutes. Rated: R for ridiculous (from the poster art and trailer).

At First Bite: I really enjoyed Hartley's NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD (4 stars), so once I saw this one on the film list for ActionFest, I made sure to put it on my agenda. It was Film #1 on Day 2, the first full day, of ActionFest.

Here, Hartley takes a look at American filmmakers, namely Roger Corman, who shot their flicks in the Philippines because it was cheaper. Ultimately, these would become drive-in movies.

Tough to Swallow: What happened to Colleen Camp? I think I asked the same question while watching FOUR CHRISTMASES. I'm sure you remember her. She was Yvette in CLUE and the Playmate in APOCALYPSE NOW. Well, she's definitely let herself go.

Something to Chew On: Premiered July 24, 2010 at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Many directors got their start working for Corman, e.g., Coppola, Dante, Hill, Jonathan Demme, Ron Howard, James Cameron, Peter Bogdanovich and Paul Bartel.

Filipino actor Ernesto de la Cruz, known as Weng Weng, was 2 feet, 9 inches tall. He is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the shortest adult actor in a leading role.

Aftertaste: Right off the bat you're told the criteria for these movies were the 3 B's: blood, breasts and beasts. And, boy howdy, there are plenty of each to go around in this 85-minute doc.

Landis and Haig are, by far, the most entertaining of the interviewees. It was interesting to hear from the women, who starred in the less-than-stellar skin flicks, talk about their motivations and horrible working conditions. They actually refer to them as feminist films. If you think about it, they were probably the only films at the time with female leads.

The editing is pretty quick. But, not necessarily in a bad way. Most of the time, someone like Landis will give a one-liner and, boom, we cut to footage making what he said even funnier. Sometimes shots aren't on screen long enough to digest fully. However, we do get to see clips from many, many different films, which is a plus. The genres go from "crazy beasts" to "women in cages" to "blaxploitation" to "political revolution." We also get a glimpse of films made by Filipino directors, and sometimes the quality suffers drastically.

Of the films mentioned in MACHETE MAIDENS UNLEASHED, I have only seen THE BIG DOLL HOUSE (2.5 stars), WOMEN IN CAGES (2 stars) and APOCALYPSE NOW (4 stars). The filming of the latter seemed to find disaster at every turn. Seriously, the tone of the doc takes a 180 from funny to almost depressing was it mentions Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 war drama. Coppola had asked for Corman's advice on shooting in the Philippines. Corman told him, "Don't go."

Three films that stood out as movies I'd want to see were MIRACLE (starring Paul Bartel), SAVAGE SISTERS and FOR Y'UR HEIGHT ONLY (starring Weng Weng). However, I can't find anything on MIRACLE, which is a shame because it was comedy about making movies in the Philippines. It was poking fun at what they had been doing for years.

All in all, this is a very entertaining documentary. In my opinion, NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD is more informative, but MACHETE MAIDENS UNLEASHED! is more fun.

Here's a look at the trailer (warning: it contains the 3 B's):

John Ashley's line at the 1:12 mark probably got the biggest laugh in the movie. That and the quote, "You'd go to your cameraman and say, 'How long to make it excellent? How long to make it good? How long to get the image?' Then you'd get the image."


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