Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010)

During the rule of Ferdinand Marcos, lax safety rules, low costs and government assistance made the Philippines the go-to place for low-budget film makers. While Filipino filmmakers made some classic horror films for the U.S. market, everyone from Roger Corman to Francis Ford Coppola took advantage of the opportunity (and, often, the locals) to make their films.

Director Mark Hartley originally began making this documentary when he became interested in the films of Weng Weng, the two-foot-nine martial arts star of a number of Filipino James Bond parodies in the early 1980s. However, he found that the history of filmmaking in the Philippines went a lot deeper, from early horror to such genre classics as [i]The Doll House[/i] and [i]Black Mama, White Mama[/i]. The number of directors and actors interviewed are numerous, from the few Filipino directors that were still alive at the time to many familiar faces.

It is a rather fun documentary (and, yes, quite a bit of time is spent concentrating on the "assets" that attracted many to see these movies in the first place) and will have many who love these types of movies making lists for future viewing. At the same time it is quite disturbing the attitude that many of the directors have to this day that the locals, particularly the stuntmen, were a disposable commodity to exploit since "life was cheap." Many of them were more than happy to turn a blind eye to the atrocities of the Marcos regime as long as they were able to easily make money off of these films.

Of course, it's hard for me to get too high-minded, because I am looking forward to watching most of them. As for this documentary, catch it if you can or, better yet, get a nice copy with all the commentary.

Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010)
Duration: 84 minutes
Starring: Roger Corman, Brian Trenchard-Smith, Pam Grier
Director: Mark Hartley

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