Machete Maidens Unleashed! is Mark Hartley’s follow-up to his debut, Not Quite Hollywood, which was an oral history of Australian exploitation (“Ozploitation”) films. Similarly, Machete Maidens is an entertaining romp through B-movie history, now focusing on films made in the Phillipines. It’s a mixtape of clips of violence, explosion and boobs galore interspersed with anecdotes from people involved with making the films – stories that range from funny to shocking, particularly when it comes to non-existent safety standards.
Unfortunately, while Machete Maidens is certainly entertaining, it never manages to be more meaningful – unlike Not Quite Hollywood, which paired its tits and stunts with some legitimate insight into the Australian culture of the time. Machete Maidens briefly touches on some incredibly interesting ideas: the moral dilemma of producing films under a fascist dictatorship, how Filipino directors could smuggle counter-cultural ideas into exploitation movies, or how sexploitation films could be simultaneously feminist and exploitative … but it never expands on any of these ideas. Still, it’s a fun way to spend ninety minutes, and gain a few films for the “To Watch” list while you’re at it.