Blood-soaked cult classic?

2010-10-25 00:00

MACHETE is likely the first public exhibition of a splatter exploitation picture in Maritzburg. In the distant past, draconian censorship would have had this banned outright, and more recent concerns in desensitised times would be related to the film’s commercial viability. Machete positions itself firmly in the realm of low culture, paying homage to the 70s grindhouse splatter pictures of America’s midnight back-alley bughouses. For those out of the know, exploitation pictures push the boundaries of good taste with extreme lashings of brutal violence, gratuitous sex and drug taking. To some extent the splatter pictures have informed many contemporary horror/shock filmmakers who find themselves increasingly under pressure to deliver spectacles.

Co-helming Machete is Robert Rodriguez, the wunderkind who acted as a cholesterol lab-rat to fund his audacious debut El Mariachi (1992). The film allegedly cost only $7 000 (R47 800) to make. More recently though, Rodriguez has collaborated with Quintin Tarantino on From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) and the Grindhouse (2007) double-feature for which he contributed Planet Terror, also a nostalgic nod to exploitation. Intriguingly Grindhouse featured trailers for films that had never been made, one of which was Machetewith Danny Trejo. Trejo brandishing a machete is really one of the scariest sights on earth. Fanboys clamored for more and Rodriguez delivered. The beauty of Rodriguez is that he truly is a cinematic talent, editing much of his own work as well as directing.

Not only this, but he contributes to the soundtracks of his films with his band Chingon and they are really good.

Also throw in some screenplay writing and you pretty much have , ideally suited to his current f ascination with exploitation and its likely niche audiences.

In terms of plot, Machete is a revenge movie, with multiple exploitations emanating from a set-up assassination attempt on a wannabe governor (Robert De Niro). Machete (Danny Trejo), an ex-Federale, gets caught up in all this and has to hack his way through an army of bodies and escapes at one point by using a length of intestine.

I kid you not; this movie is not for the faint of heart.

The casting is delicious, like Lindsay Lohan as a gun-toting nun, and the in-jokes run thick and fast. Rodriguez has paid perfect homage to the (m)exploitation sub-genre while managing to elevate it with some sexy and styling cinematography. A future cult classic? Machete pays a perfectly blood-soaked homage to splatter flicks. Extreme violence, so beware.

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