One of my favorite sub-genres is the Filipino exploitation films, especially the Women In Prison pictures. A new documentary from Mark Hartley (Not Quite Hollywood) covers the crazy world of Filipinosploitation: Machete Maidens Unleashed!
If you’ve seen Not Quite Hollywood (and if you haven’t, go watch it now!) you know Hartley has a knack for cutting together the craziest scenes from these exploitation films, along with some great interviews from the major players to make a fun and informative account of the subject.
Hartley traces the roots of Filipino exploitation films back to the locally produced schlock war and horror films of the 1960s to the crucial moment when Roger Corman realized he could make a bigger movie in the Phillipines than he could in America. You had the exotic locale, a pre-existing film industry and a very pro-American population. Even better, authoritarian dictator Ferdinand Marcos gave the full cooperation of his army, which allowed for really large action scenes.
Machete Maidens Unleashed features some great interviews with participants like Joe Dante and Allan Arkush, Sid Haig, Jack Hill, Brian Trenchard-Smith and many more, as well as the always-enthusiastic John Landis. I love watching Landis talk about exploitation movies, you can just tell he really loves this crap.
Hartley also treats us to extensive clips of the beasts, blood and breasts that made these movies so popular. It’s interesting to hear now-middle aged actresses like Gloria Hendry, Margaret Markov and Celeste Yarnall talk about how they felt about baring their breasts in their youth (they mostly seemed to feel it was a feminist empowerment thing) and how they feel about their time in these movies.
As an aside to all the American exploitation movies, Machete Maidens Unleashed also covers the homegrown action hero, the Filipino James Bond, the 2’9″ sex symbol Weng Weng.
If you have any interest at all in exploitation cinema you need to seek out and see Machete Maidens Unleashed, it’s a fun look back at the kind of movies we’ll probably never see again.
Machete Maidens Unleashed is slated for DVD release in the US on November 1st but if you just can’t wait you can order the Region 2 DVD direct from Australia at Umbrella Entertainment.