AUSTRALIA – 2010 – 84 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN ENGLISH
A FILM BY MARK HARTLEY
MACHETE MAIDENS UNLEASHED! is the first detailed examination and celebration of Filipino genre filmmaking — a world where stunt men came cheap, plot was obsolete and the make-up guy was packin' heat!
￼From the early '70s well into the '90s the Philippines was a back-lot for a bevy of renegade B-movie makers and cinema visionaries alike. The country was utilized for its inexpensive labour, exotic locations and distinct lack of rules. A tidal schlock-wave of genre work emerged that somehow managed to capture the raw, chaotic energy of contemporary Filipino culture. These productions (a cavalcade of monster movies, jungle prison movies, blaxploitation and kung fu hybrids) were miraculously made at a time when the country's political situation was repressive at best. But, this was a revolution that even the Marcos dictatorship couldn't crush!
MACHETE MAIDENS UNLEASHED! begins with the partnership of acclaimed local filmmakers Gerry de Leon and Eddie Romero whose gore-drenched BLOOD ISLAND trilogy went straight from jungles of the Pacific to the trash cans of the critics, but in the process found large and enthusiastic drive-in audiences across America.
When legendary maverick producer Roger Corman was introduced to Romero and de Leon he instantly discovered the Philippines was economically suited to low budget filming. Corman quickly set up camp and produced a number of highly successful "Woman In Prison" films starring genre favourites Pam Grier and Sid Haig.
Throughout the '70s and '80s the appetites of thrill-hungry cinemagoers around the globe continued to be satisfied by prolific local auteurs Cirio H. Santiago (TNT JACKSON) and Bobby A. Suarez (CLEOPATRA WONG) — and in the late 1970's Francis Ford Coppola re-invigorated a whole new epoch of filmmaking by choosing to shoot the infamously troubled production, APOCALYPSE NOW in the Philippines.
￼Our journey climaxes in 1981 when this country fights back and reclaims its very own special national identity via the inaugural Manila International Film Festival and accompanying Film Market. Conceived to showcase the Philippine's glorious screen culture, the market's biggest success was FOR Y'UR HEIGHT ONLY, a low budget, home-grown James Bond spoof starring an 83cm primordial dwarf named Weng Weng. The film sold to countless international territories and is now arguably the most well known exemplar of the Filipino genre film abroad.
MACHETE MAIDENS UNLEASHED! is everything you ever wanted to know about drive-in filler from Manilla! The ultimate insiders' account of genre filmmaking in the Philippines, it boasts a role call of local and international survivors from this period, including many visiting American B-movie starlets who were totally unprepared for this devil-may-care school of filmmaking. Sitting alongside the talking heads are a dazzling array of outrageous film clips from key Philippines-lensed productions. This is the ultimate Filipino femme-fest!
"the film’s most revealing interviews are with the bevy of female actors who bared it all from the waist up, fought swamp monsters, mercenaries and often each other while working under less than luxurious conditions – such as a wet cave used as a dressing room that also doubled as the men’s latrine."
- THE GLOBE AND MAIL
"Never underestimate a creative B-movie industry’s ability to find a new group to exploit."
- THE TORONTO STAR
“Filipino filmmakers would watch American films and try to duplicate them, but they did it in the simplest and often the most dangerous way possible,” says Hartley, who previously explored the B-films of his native Australia in his 2008 documentary Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!.
“When they saw a guy jump through a glass window, they didn't realize it was breakaway glass. So they would just throw somebody through a plate glass window.”
- THE TORONTO STAR
"So, consider this your introduction to the lesser-known corners of Filipino cinema. Or, just go for the non-stop stream of ’70s boobs. Because American Apparel ads can’t fake the real thing."
"Assembling interviews with Corman, his stars and the filmmakers, Hartley conducts a delightful, briskly paced tour of the very finest exploitation tactics: constant nudity, lurid violence and cheesy political speechifying."
- NOW MAGAZINE
"The doc’s own high quota of bare boobs, big laughs and bigger explosions ensures that it has the same sleazy appeal as the movies it salutes."
- EYE WEEKLY
"an unabashedly graphic documentary (we're talking more boobs than you'll find in parliament) about a cheesy, and yet fascinating, subject."
- TORONTO SUN
"a fun look back at a simpler time in moviemaking"
- NATIONAL POST
"Though sadly lacking many machetes or maidens, this ridiculously entertaining documentary explores the robust Filipino exploitation movie-making scene of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Director Mark Hartley assembled interviews with key players like Roger Corman to form a poignantly nostalgic look at a forgotten period of outlaw filmmaking."
"... it's awfully hard to dislike a movie like this. You want clips of women in prison being unconvincingly tortured? You got 'em. You want to see a three-foot-tall actor flying around with a jet pack? You got it (via James Bond spoof For Y'ur Height Only). You want a thorough, if superficial, summary of a film movement of questionable merit? You got it. You want funny stories about the utter shamelessness of some of these companies? Done."