MIFF 2010 Review: Machete Maidens Unleashed

5 Aug

Following up on the success of 2008’s Not Quite Hollywood comes Mark Hartley’s new documentary about Filipino genre films of the 70s and 80s Machete Maidens unleashed.  Anyone who has read Roger Corman’s “How I made a hundred movies in Hollywood and never lost a dime” will find themselves in familiar territory; as Mark said prior to the screening,”If you want to learn something from this film then you should probably go to the foyer and read a book”  This isn’t a film about the Philippines at all but the American genre films that were made there in order to take advantage of the cheap labor and exotic scenery readily available. Roger Corman, Joe Dante, John Landis, Eddie Romero and many other talking heads sound like they have  a few more films worth of stories to tell and it’s obvious that almost everyone (except the stunt people, something i will come back to later) had a lot of fun working on these films. The filmmakers must have spent hours trawling through literally hundreds of B-grade films and it’s paid of because Machete Maidens is a hilarious clip show with the sordid scenes and hilarious one liners coming thick and fast from start to finish.

Perhaps the MIFF programmers should think about screening some of these films at shed 4 next year after all it’s the drive in double feature market that these films were originally aimed at and I really would like the chance to see films like For your Height Only or Big Doll House as they were originally intended to be seen.

At the risk of going against the spirit in which Machete Maidens Unleashed was made I was a little uncomfortable with the way in which it trivialised the real exploitation of cheap Filipino stunt men who died in the making of these films. There seems to be a double standard where it’s ok to exploit third world countries if you want to make films but not if you want to make sneakers.  Could Nike make a similar movie about the glory days of the south east asian sweatshop industry with the same hilarious anecdotes.

In an AFR scoop (sort of) Mark Hartley has announced that he will not be making another documentary for a while and his next project will be a “Gothic, Spooky, Orphanage style” remake of the schlock 80s aussie horror film Patrick.


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