Quick Movie Review: Machete Maidens Unleashed (2010)

If there’s one documentary subject I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of it’s filmmakers talking about the good old days of cheaply made schlock shown at drive-ins and grindhouse theaters. And I’m glad that people are not only making these movies, but also that the people who were involved are not only still alive, but also willing to talk about their experiences. While the excellent Not Quite Hollywood focused on these kinds of movies shot in Australia and the not as great American Grindhouse focused on its own obvious subject matter, Machete Maidens Unleashed set its sites on American films that were shot down in the Philippines in the 70s and 80s. I actually just looked and the guy who directed this movie, Mark Hartley, also directed Not Quite and is the man behind the upcoming Canon Video doc which I am really looking forward to.

I actually didn’t even know this was a thing before reading the description on Netflix Instant (I, of course, was first drawn in by the poster image and then the title), but there was actually a full-fledged movie industry in the Philippines at the team that lots of producers and directors like Roger Corman and Joe Dante took advantage of because of the low, low cost. At one point, one of the filmmakers in the doc said something along the lines of “The film was cheap and human life was even cheaper,” referencing the lengths local actors and stuntmen would go to put their lives on the line to get just the right shot. Fight scenes were filmed so that people were actually beating the crap out of each other and a lot of the explosions going off and glass being broken were real. It’s the kind of thing that, today, would create a public outcry for human safety, but at that place and that time, those apparently weren’t big concerns.

There are two aspects of this film that make it so interesting aside from the subject matter itself. First off, it seems like everyone who’s still alive agreed to be interviewed for this flick. Heck, John Landis is there and I don’t even think he shot a movie in the Philippines! That dude just loves to talk about these kinds of movies (he’s also in American Grindhouse). I already mentioned Corman and Dante, but tons of people appear in this movie: Pam Grier, Sid Haig, R. Lee Ermey, Dick Miller, Brian Trenchard-Smith, seemingly every hopeful starlet who appeared topless in those movies and several local filmmakers. Everyone is very open, honest and entertaining when it comes to relating their experiences. The second aspect of this movie that really makes it great and seems to be a trademark of Hartley’s, is the quick and efficient editing of the picture. There isn’t a wasted moment in this flick and, at the same time it doesn’t feel rushed.

If you love bad movies of years gone by, exploitation cinema or are just interested in some of the less glamorous corners of the film business, I highly recommend giving Machete Maidens Unleashed a watch.

Halloween Scene: Spider Baby, or The Maddest Story Ever Told (1968)

You guys, this is a weird one. You’ve got a kind of haunted house/creepy family story following a chauffeur played by Lon Chaney (this might be the first Chaney movie I’ve ever seen) who is taking care of three children who are crazy killers. You see, as our narrator tells us in the beginning of the flick, it’s called Marrye Syndrome and it effects only one family ever and makes its victims regress back to a maniacal state (kind of like Wolverine, but with noses). We’re introduced to the truly strange children when the poor delivery man gets stabbed to death by Virigina who’s playing “spider”, then her sister Elizabeth walks in and says “Are you crazy?” but more like she’s saying “We’re having meatloaf again?” Then you’ve got their brother Ralph who’s played by Sid Haig like a pinhead from Freaks.

As the movie progresses (and it really does get slow at times, which is impressive considering it’s only got an 81 minute run time), extended family members come to reclaim the children from Chaney and start asking a lot of pesky questions, like what happened to their parents. I guess this is SPOILER territory, but I just can’t help talking about the weirdness. Their father is actually a skeleton, who they kiss goodnight. Their aunts and uncles, who are animal-like cannibals live down in a basement that looks like something out of The House On Haunted Hill. Oh, also one of the dudes, he might be a lawyer or something, is sporting a Hitler mustache. Not a good fashion choice bro.

So, yeah, the movie gets to a point where the woman in the poster above is changing into black lingerie for a good deal of time only to be attacked later by the kids who hunt her down in the woods surrounding the house. All in all, I gotta say that I recommend checking this little ball of weirdness out. The poster they show on NetBox is the above one, but I like this one MUCH better, it looks rad. Oh, also of note, the movie was originally made in 1964, but didn’t come out till 68, partly due to the studio going under, but also because the original title was Cannibal Orgy. It’s an interesting choice, but lacks the orgy aspect completely. Hell, there isn’t even any boob. I wonder if the Director’s Cut that the box art here boasts is any different (you know, has more orgies). Did orgy used to mean something else back in the 60s? Weird.

Halloween Scene: Halloween (2007)

I’ve been avoiding Rob Zombie’s Halloween reinterpretation for a while now. When I first heard that Halloween was being remade I was skeptical to say the least. This is one of my all time favorite horror movies and probably on most other horror fans’ top 10 (at least). It’s a near perfect movie. So, why remake it? If anything, why not make a new sequel?

After it came out I didn’t hear any good things and figured it’d be best if I just left it alone. So, why did I watch it? It was in my house. It was sitting around for a while before I finally popped it in the old DVD player and was not impressed.

I’m not going to say that Halloween is a bad movie, but I will say that it seems to completely miss the mark on Michael Myers as a character and what makes something really scary. I know I’m not the first person to say that I don’t need to see Michael Myers’ crappy life to understand why he’s a psycho killer. What exactly is that point of showing us SO much of Mike’s childhood? All it does is kind of make us feel bad for him. But only kind of because that kid they got to play young Michael is way creepy. Just get to him being a huge killer killing people already. To paraphrase Patton Oswalt, I don’t need to see where the things I like come from, I just like them.

I’m going to switch over to my Live Blogging notes from here on out. To be fair, I was much harder on this movie than I would have been on a movie called Hallows Eve or something else, but hey, that’s what you get for recreating the BEST HORROR MOVIE EVER! Most complaints are in reference to the original movie.

*Oh, he has a shitty life? Thanks, I get it.

*Little Michael looks like a girl, he’s also too old.

*The bully looks like Shia.

*The principal looks like a zombie.

*Haha, now they’re saying Loomis was around before Michael went crazy? Ugh.

*The point of Michael Myers is that he’s just pure evil, showing him as an abused child (even a crazy one who kills animals) elicits at least a little sympathy. Also, I like the Michael just snaps in the original, it’s not a decline into madness it’s an elevator plummeting into the depths of hell.

*How is the bully letting himself get beat to death? Just get up! In real life, I feel like he’s try and get up.

*The blood looks like chocolate syrup.

*Why is his mom with that ass? I get making him a jerk, but seriously, what’s the point? There’s no explanation.

*Yeah, I get it, it’s the 70s, play something that ISN’T on the Dazed and Confused soundtrack. “Love Hurts”? Are you kididng me?

*Her boyfriend’s a douche “I want to do it with the mask on.” The MICHAEL MYERS mask? Ugh.

*Slits that mean bastard’s throat after taping him up. Pretty smart move for a kid.

*So, the boyfriend (steve) either is done banging the sister or is kicked out so he goes downstairs to make a sandwhich.

*Oh look, he’s hitting someone to death again. Inspired.

*Sis is next.

*Oh, also, killing everyone you know because you couldn’t go trick or treating is STUPID. this makes Michael seem like a bitch.

*Oh wow, he put on the MICHAEL MYERS mask. How prophetic. Blarg.

*Hey look, the baby we haven’t seen since the first scene. Will he kill her? OF COURSE NOT! Way to have no dramatic tension whatsoever. The people die in the exact order you think they would.

*Is that what an actual 10 year old looks like? I really have no idea. He seems older.

*So, he’s a normal-ish kid now in the asylum? Ha, and he’s oblivious. Perfect.

*Doesn’t remember what he did? Ugh. I hate this kid.

*YEAH, DANNY TREJO!!! Best interview I ever did.

*Danny tells him to live inside his head…wonder where THIS is going. CRAZY TOWN.

*He’s making masks. One of which is clearly Leatherface.

*HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE SILENT AFTER GOING TO THE INSTITUTION!!!!!! [I could definitely be wrong on this one, but I was not liking this movie pretty intensely at this point.]

*Woah, that nurse is a bitch. Also, probably dead soon.

*Oh no, the mom wants to kill herself. WHO CARES?!

*Old Danny Trejo!

*Why would they let him make all these masks?

*Tyler Mane DOES strike an imposing figure.

*Loomis isn’t supposed to LIKE Michael.

*Of course, the redneck guards are rapists.

*Why would you f**k with a GIANT?

*Michael just kills everyone now?

*The scene between Michael and Danny is tense (will he attack or won’t he?). Yeah, of course he does because this movie’s soulless.

*Why does Michael keep pulling Danny out of the water if he’s trying to kill him? A real murderer wouldn’t do that, it’s movie bullshit. Or he just wanted to smash him with a TV.

*Why does he zero in on this dude in the bathroom? There were a half dozen guys out there.

*Hey another knife kill. Wow.

*How is the jumpsuit not covered in blood?

*So, Laurie’s a crazy bitch? Awesome. [Introducing good girl Laurie with a lewd bagel/sex dance is a poor decision, first impressions and all that.]

*As if it needs to be said, we spend WAY too much time with Michael.

*How/when did he hide that knife and mask under the floorboards?

*DANIELLE HARRIS!!! I should have gotten an autograph when I saw her at Big Apple Con a few years back.

*Now they’re saying she’s Mother Teresa? After her weird bagel dance? Doesn’t jive folks.

*”Just keep the monkeyhouse locked until the monkey dies of old age.” – Loomis. This is great casting. I want to see him in a Halloween 6 remake, completely bat shit crazy.

*The girls are yelling shit at Michael. Why doesn’t he just kill them right there? That’s what this Michael would do.

*I’m still upset about the whole bagel thing too, mom.

*Micheal’s just walking down the freaking street! What happened to his stealthiness?

*Sid Haig, of course. I’m actually not afraid of him though for once.

*Why the heck are there title cards like “Trick or Treat?” After telling me it’s Hoddonfield and Halloween are these necessary?

*Haha, they party in the Myers house. Not a bad touch actually. Except he’s standing right there on the balcony!

*Michael’s killing yet another dude post coitus. A dude who wore a disguise of some kind. Yawn.

*Why do I recognize the gun store owner? [Can’t remember the character’s name by The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz is in this!]

*Holy crap, he just killed Laurie’s parents.

*Danielle vs. Michael, round 4, FIGHT!

*Cop’s face against the dooor as he gets stabbed looks pretty cool.

*Blah blah blah.

*He’s dead. Of course he’s not.

*Loomis: “What the hell?!” That’s a great line.

*Blah blah blah, she’s in the ceiling, they both go off the balcony.

*Empty that gun in his FACE! Aw, out of bullets. Of course. You should really check that ahead of time.

*Ken Foree was in this? Oh the dude in the truck stop.

*If it wasn’t called Halloween I think I’d be okay with it. You just can’t redo the classics.

Halloween Scene: Brotherhood of Blood (2007)

4:22:28 am

I figured my good luck with the Ghost House Underground flicks wouldn’t last. I’ve been watching Brotherhood of Blood for about an hour now and I just don’t really care what’s going on. The story needlessly jumps around in time, which I can accept, except the editing is a bit confusing and about half the acting is wooden (the other half darn good). The dialogue has about the same percentage of hit and miss.

It’s you’re basic team of vampire hunters against an old vampire and his clan. There’s some kind of plot about a dude whose brother may or may not be a vampire. Again, I’m being a bad reviewer and got distracted by the Internets, but there also hasn’t been much in the movie to make me take note and saw “holy cats!” It’s kind of like a Blade movie, but without the style or the budget. It also sets up an unfamiliar mythology and then tries to flip it on us like it’s something we’ve known since we were kids, but it just doesn’t work out all that well.

I have noticed that the movie looks more like an episode of Law and Order than a movie. I assume Dance of the Dead had a fairly low budget as well, but it looked a lot slicker than BoB. Another thing I noticed is that the young vampire hunter kid they induct into their group is pretty much an idiot. Not only does he try to unchain their vampire captive (played by Dawn of the Dead and Leatherface’s Ken Foree!), but he then later complains that the vampire is tied up to tight. JEEZ! The main vampire hunter chick actually does make a point about how stupid he’s being, but I question if anyone would react in such a manner after actually being around vampires.

But it’s not all bad. Like I said Ken Foree’s in it, which makes two movies I’ve watched with him in it this week! He looks kind of like a gypsy vampire, but I’m not really sure what his story is. It’s ALWAYS good to see my man again. (EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve never met Ken, but I feel like we could start a detective duo or a mystery solving rock band if and when we do eventually meet.) Sid Haig of Devil’s Rejects and House of 1000 fame also pops up. He’s the leader of the vampire pack. He tempers his usual over-the-top-ness with more subtlety than you might expect, but, like with Ken, he’s always a fun face to see in a flick.

Finally, I’ve got to give it to Victoria Pratt for giving her all in her roll as the main vampire hunter lady. You may recognize her from Cleopatra 2025 or Mutant X, but I didn’t. There wasn’t a single moment on screen where I thought she believed anything but the plain and simple fact that she was a badass vampire hunter. She really keeps the movie from completely toppling in on itself with all the little problems. She’s even responsible for most of the best gore pieces when she’s kicking vamp butt.

Overall, I can’t recommend this flick to anyone but huge vampire, Ken Foree, Sid Haig or Victoria Pratt fans. The story’s muddled, the acting, editing and script only so-so, the gore pretty good though there isn’t a lot of it and the big “twist ending” is just kind of eh, but you do get a slightly different take on the vampire mythos.