Sunday, 2 January 2011



Years ago I used to have a pre-cert VHS copy of an absolutely terrible horror film entitled Brides Of Blood, with the words "Directed by Eddie Romero of Apocalypse Now" emblazoned on the front cover, presumably to con the more gullible members of the public into thinking that Brides Of Blood was somehow connected with Francis Ford Coppola's brilliant but unhinged modern classic. In fact, he was just an associate producer since the film was shot in the Philippines, and by that time had written and directed scores of local exploitation movies.

Eddie Romero, Gerrardo De Leon, Cirio Santiago, Bobby Suarez - just some of the names involved in the Filipino exploitation film industry through its golden years of the sixties and seventies, and the story is now told in Machete Maidens Unleashed!, a documentary from the makers of Not Quite Hollywood, the history of the Australian exploitation movie. From the early Romero/De Leon movies such as The Mad Doctor Of Blood Island, Beast Of The Yellow Night and Terror Is A Man through to the involvement of American producers such as Roger Corman, it's certainly fascinating but the inescapable fact is that the Filipino exploitation movies simply weren't very good. I came away from Not Quite Hollywood wanting to see the movies concerned, because they looked great, but I didn't come out of Machete Maidens Unleashed! with any kind of desire to watch Night Of The Cobra Woman for the very simple reason that it looked terrible.

Still, it's pretty interesting stuff and in addition to the Filipino directors themselves you get a lot of the American performers and directors reminiscing: lots of Roger Corman, Sid Haig, Pam Grier, Joe Dante, R Lee Ermey, Chris Mitchum(!) and many others, and John Landis sounding particularly enthusiastic about them. But despite my enjoyment of films with healthy levels of sex and violence, gore and stupidity, I couldn't raise much enthusiasm for even the best of the movies they were talking so excitedly about - not even the Weng Weng series of midget Bond spoofs!


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