Trailer for the documentary Machete Maidens Unleashed.

Machete Maidens Unleashed! is the first detailed examination and celebration of Filipino genre filmmaking - 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 labour, 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!

Machete Maidens Unleashed! begins with the partnership of acclaimed local filmmakers Gerry de Leon and Eddie Romero whose gore-drenched BLOOD ISLAND trilogy went straight from jungles of the Pacific to the trash cans of the critics, but in the process found large and enthusiastic drive-in audiences across America.

When legendary maverick producer Roger Corman was introduced to Romero and de Leon he instantly discovered the Philippines was economically suited to low budget filming. Corman quickly set up camp and produced a number of highly successful "Woman In Prison" films starring genre favorites Pam Grier and Sid Haig.

Throughout the '70s and '80s the appetites of thrill-hungry cinemagoers around the globe continued to be satisfied by prolific local auteurs Cirio H. Santiago (TNT JACKSON) and Bobby A. Suarez (CLEOPATRA WONG) - and in the late 1970's Francis Ford Coppola re-invigorated a whole new epoch of filmmaking by choosing to shoot the infamously troubled production, APOCALYPSE NOW in the Philippines.

Our journey climaxes in 1981 when this country fights back and reclaims its very own special national identity via the inaugural Manila International Film Festival and accompanying Film Market. Conceived to showcase the Philippine's glorious screen culture, the market's biggest success was FOR Y'UR HEIGHT ONLY, a low budget, home-grown James Bond spoof starring an 83cm primordial dwarf named Weng Weng. The film sold to countless international territories and is now arguably the most well known exemplar of the Filipino genre film abroad.

Machete Maidens Unleashed! is everything you ever wanted to know about drive-in filler from Manilla! The ultimate insiders' account of genre filmmaking in the Philippines, it boasts a role call of local and international survivors from this period, including many visiting American B-movie starlets who were totally unprepared for this devil-may-care school of filmmaking. Sitting alongside the talking heads are a dazzling array of outrageous film clips from key Philippines-lensed productions. This is the ultimate Filipino femme-fest!

2 min 31 sec


Posted On
August 16, 2010
Mark Hartley

Mark Hartley


August 18, 2010
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