Machete Maidens Unleashed is currently only available in Region 1 format, so you’ll need a machine you can hack to read it.
This dvd was a birthday present to myself. It’s by the same director as Not Quite Hollywood, which covered Australian exploitation cinema, and follows a similar formula. Talking heads recount tales from the set cut between clips from the films they’re referring to, all put together in a roughly chronological history of the industry.
Where Ozsploitation grew out of Australian culture and found an eager audience outside the country, the Philippine version documented in this film (Flipsploitation?) was driven by American producers looking for cheap content. A lot of this documentary could just be a chapter in the Roger Corman story (Corman’s World is on my to-view list), as he was king of the Yankee producers for a long time from the sixties through to the seventies. He tries, though his tongue could be deep in his cheek, to claim films like The Big Doll House were all about female empowerment. Whilst some of the actresses involved echo the sentiment, the argument is undermined a bit by clips from the feminist opuses. For all the grand claims made for the art of Flipsploitation, there is always John Landis ready to play the amiable nay-sayer.
Most of the contributors have horror stories about conditions- on set and off- to spice their recollections. Stunt performers were cheap and could just be set on fire or thrown through windows (real glass, the Philippine movie makers hadn’t heard of sugar glass). More impressively, the Marcos regime was eager to let the army act as extras, lending scope to battle scenes far beyond the usually tiny budget. Though sometimes the helicopters were late on set because they’d been off firing live rounds at rebels. Apocalypse Now is most famous for using Marcos’ military for its grand action scenes, but the realism was added to many less well known films as well.
The dvd is packed with extra features, including extended interviews, a selection of trailers (from which I will be adding films to my to-view list) and commentary, so I’ll keep coming back to it whenever I want a bit of exploitation movie inspiration.