Mark Hartley’s documentary Machete Maidens Unleashed!, the first detailed examination and celebration of Filipino genre filmmaking, got a very warm reception when it played at this year’s Fantastic Fest. Was that crazy Canuck Trembles equally impressed? Read on for his take on the film.
Machete Maidens Unleashed! (Fantastic Fest review here) takes the viewer into 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 labor, 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!