Rated R for ridiculous: Machete Maidens Unleashed

-From the International Film Festival in Rotterdam-

While I’ve never gotten up at 6 AM to go see a film, one that wasn’t even a special presentation or anything, doing it was a strange decision of the sort where I bought tickets in advance and dealt with the consequences later. The film being ‘Machete Maidens Unleashed’ by Mark Hartley. The film was highly hilarious though, and I gave it a 5 on the score-card just because it was so much fun and because of all the crazy tag-lines involved. ‘Machete Maidens’ is a documentary about the Philippines (under dictatorship) hosting hundreds of B-movie genre-films productions a year, mostly during the 70’s and 80’s. The film is laced with commentary by cult movie icons such as Roger Corman, Joe Dante, John Landis, Sid Haig, Eddie Romero and an assembly of cast, crew and critics. The Phillipines hot, sweaty, violent, tropical location with lots of bird-size bugs and girl’s head actually being squashed into toilets in the sub-genre of women-in-prison-films, as well as girls being hung from their hair (for real) and of course the regular machetes and machine-guns. Everything was done right there, locals were exploited and punched at in cheap stunts while someone died failing to jump out of a watchtower that was being taken down in a particular shot. So this exploitation cinema is not just exploiting in it’s racial and sexist aspects but also in it’s relation to the Phillipinos. On the other hand, local film talent got a chance to do really crazy things for these USA export films, things like filming topless girls with bad dialogues fighting for the freedom of the locals, while in real-life there was a huge control over the media.

All these horror and action films were screened in the United States in mostly smaller towns in for example drive-in cinema’s. There were often whole gimmicks around it, like giving the audiences ‘chuck-up cups’ for the raunchy moments, or ringing bells when they were cutting into flesh. While the films were all Rated R, it seemed that the rating board was keen on LSD themselves and were loads less backwards in what was allowed on-screen. These were public cinemas. That’s not to say that these films had any morals to them, in fact you could easily say that they offend great parts of the population.

At the cinema, there was a quite a full audience for this early time in the morning, I was quite surprised, it also included some middle-aged women who I suspect were planning on going to a different film but decided to see this film so they wouldn’t have gone to the theater for nothing. I wonder. I could be far off. For the age they have is the same as the girls out of the 70’s exploitation movies who were commenting on their boob-tastic roles.

I myself have seen maybe 1 exploitation film and keep a natural distance to horror films, so this is how I went into viewing this film. But the logic of these no-budget exploitation films is also nice, i.e. no logic, spontaneous film-making. With titles including ‘For Y’ur height only’ and women saying things like ”If you don’t get it up, I’ll cut if off’, whacky zooming, this film will guarantee you a good time contemplating those films filmed in ‘Slitherama’.


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