The film famously spawned from one of the fake parody trailers that was seen in the Tarantino and Rodriguez movie 'Grindhouse'. Personally I'm still up for the movie of 'Werewolf Women of the SS' which looked much better, you never know, they've done a movie for all the others I believe. As I'm sure you're all aware this film has been deliberately shot in that old grungy 70's B-movie exploitation style which continues from its trailer parody roots.
The films visuals are purposely scratchy faded marked and at times slightly glitchy to match those of the heyday of grindhouse/exploitation crapola. Now myself I don't really like this era of film and the way it looked, the films beginning credits sequence being a brightly coloured badly composed montage of film stills accompanied by some seriously retro text font and cheesy action music. The whole thing reminded me of my childhood days and those hammy American cop shows like 'Chips' or 'Starsky and Hutch' (take your pick from many). Of course this film is much much more hokey than those shows and is influenced by films before my time but I still shudder at the thought of it, I do remember some darn hokey stuff I can tell you (1977 Spider-Man movie).
So being a crummy sleazy grindhouse action flick you can guess the plot isn't gonna tax your brain. Well you would think that but its actually quite relatable to current affairs both in the UK, Europe and the US. I refer to the various immigration issues flying about these days which has grown stronger over the last few years, especially right now in the US where there are US citizens actively protesting in Texas against immigrants coming in from Central America. Obviously I'm not suggesting that any of the corruption, wall building and assassination attempts seen in the film are happening but the the films basic plot is eerily familiar.
As for the film its exactly what you'd expect and more of what we saw in the parody trailer. Danny Trejo has a big machete and various guns, his mission is to get revenge on the corrupt suit that set him up on an assassination attempt against a corrupt Senator who is tough on immigration. The reason being they want it to look like an illegal Mexican tried to kill the Senator for his tough stance on immigration, thusly giving their cause a boost with the public and the excuse to build a big wall across the Texan border.
Along the way Machete meets up with a few characters that help him. Cheech Marin is a Padre with a mean trigger finger, Michelle Rodriguez (who is cast in the same role every time) plays the tough Latino bitch who also has a mean trigger finger, Alba is a US Customs and Immigration officer with a mean trigger finger and Lindsay Lohan pops up too...with a mean trigger finger. On the baddie side is Savini as a hitman with a mean trigger finger, Don Johnson as a sadistic redneck vigilante border patrol leader and of course Seagal as the big boss who is a dab hand with a katana.
Honesty the plot is highly convoluted (I've confused myself writing this!) and only serves to stuff as many big names in as possible, its like a Mexican/Latino Expendables. I can't really moan about that though as you know right from the outset the film is purposely ludicrous and outrageous. The same can obviously be said for all the action and violence, I found that it gets more absurd as the film gets towards the finale. At first it felt quite gritty and semi realistic to a degree, you know its a parody but you can run with it. But towards the end everything gets way out of hand with awful looking CGI action, explosions and blood everywhere, terrible death acting by the extras, crazy situations, Michelle Rodriguez getting shot in the eye and surviving and the hokiest death scene ever by Seagal. Honesty it actually looked like a something from a blooper reel! funny but..really?
There are some clever moments of parody admittedly. I liked the baddie henchmen who discuss their jobs and what they think of their boss, the fact that one of them is starting to think that the boss is actually a bad guy and whether they are in the right line of work. Plus the fact they actually have injuries from the last fight they had with Machete, they chat about them, then in the end two of them quit before getting killed, finally realising its not worth it.
Its very hard to review really as I know its all deliberate, its been made to look bad and cheesy, hokey acting and silly 'A-Team-esque' scenarios. On one hand I can kinda deal with that but on the other...its just shit! and it gets worse as the film progresses. Its a shame as the film is fun and more of an adult action flick for the most part with blood guts and tits on display. Unfortunately your suspension of disbelief is crushed towards the end, it goes beyond a mockery and morphs into a childish James Bond type of picture. I did quite like the final end credits and voice that announces Machete will return in 'Machete Kills' and 'Machete Kills Again'...nicely retro, nicely done.
Or known as 'John Carpenter's Vampires' if you wish. This film starts off really well with Woods and his vampire slaying team cooking up some vamps in their own unique way. They find em, harpoon em and drag them out into the sunlight via a winch on a truck. What I really liked about the film was this cool vamp slaying team, there were a few well known faces in there, character actors that really made a unique cool looking unit. Its such a shame that they all get wiped out early on.
This leaves Woods and Baldwin galloping up diarrhea drive without a saddle. It also seems to diminish the film before its even started, but wait! all is not lost. Woods character is a solid hard ass, he looks unashamedly cool with his black leather coat, blue jeans and shades, he's got a mouth on him, a wicked name and knows his way around most weaponry, in short he's an older 'Snake Plissken' with a short back n sides.
The plot is simple enough, its Woods vs vampires, good enough for ya?. When I say vampires I mean just one badass head vampire (who looks suspiciously like the head nutter from 'Ghosts of Mars') and a lot of faceless stake fodder. Its all about Woods really, yeah he has the typical wet sidekick pushed on him, a newbie priest to look after, and there's Baldwin but to be honest they don't figure. You wanna see Woods swearing and kicking vampire ass.
When I first heard of this I didn't think too much of it, after 'Escape From LA' most were in shock and this really didn't sound very inspiring. But this does turn out to be a pretty decent western vampire flick along the lines of 'From Dusk Till Dawn'. There is plenty of blood and gore with some nice body part effects, obviously violence is high, nice visuals and your obligatory cowboy-like musical score.
Not your obvious Carpenter flick as it does seem more glossy than most, still looks a bit 'made for TV' here and there but generally its a tad more Hollywood. Doesn't add much new to the vampire lore either, only the way they harpoon vamps and certain weapons have a face lift of sorts. All your usual types of deaths, leaping around, decapitations, vampire POV, bone snapping sound effects etc...are present and correct.
Better than you would expect but mainly down to Woods, without him who knows. Its cheesy and not quite up to the standards of other more original quirky Carpenter films but it certainly holds its own amongst other vampire films. It does always amuse me though how all the characters know regular bullets don't have any effect on vampires, yet they continually empty clips into them as if it will do any good hehe.
'Can I ask ya somethin, Padre? When I was kickin your ass back there...you get a little wood?'
Slightly silly title but if you're unaware this is the sequel to the 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' remake starring Brendan Fraser. Pretty much the same thing accept swap Fraser with Dwayne Johnson playing Hutcherson's stepfather for this adventure. The title is also a clever cross over with Jules Verne's other fantasy novel 'The Mysterious Island'. So it reads...'Journey 2' (as in part 2, the sequel), 'The Mysterious Island'...I say clever but...never mind.
Lots of the expected really, you can't really fail to know what your gonna see here, big bugs, volcanoes, sea beasties, lost gold, deep thick jungles and Michael Caine playing your typical bearded oldboy intrepid adventurer...think along the lines of Connery in 'The Last Crusade'.
Despite that it is good fun if you enjoy light-hearted fantasy much like the original 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' film. It is of course totally daft how Johnson and Hutcherson know how to pilot Captain Nemo's Nautilus, hijack large bumblebees and ride them like speeder bikes and Johnson throwing a spear underwater but hey!...you overlook these things.
Enjoyable stuff and hopefully a third on the way, maybe a little less focus on Johnson though this time, he's admittedly a funny guy but boy does he love being the centre of attention.
Back in 1986 there was a small low budget horror movie called 'Vamp' starring Grace Jones as a supreme vampiress Goddess and owner of a seedy strip joint full of seedy hooker-esque strippers...it was spanklicious! Then along came Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez and they basically completely ripped off the entire idea, thus we have this heavily Mexican influenced horror splatter fest.
I saw this film on release in the cinema back in the day and I thoroughly enjoyed it, this hasn't changed. I think the fun fact with this film is that it works on two levels, as we all know the film is basically one story that U-turns into another, but both work really well. The first half of the film which focuses on the 'Gecko Brothers' is a violent unapologetic crime spree road trip following the duo on the lamb. Its a strange combination of ice cool badassery and actual nastiness leaving you unsure whether you should be rooting for these two guys.
Lets face it, Clooney is the slightly charming good looking cool headed leader of the pair sporting a horribly dated tribal tattoo. This guy makes you think its fun and sexy to be a criminal on the run from the law...in a cool car to boot. Then you have Tarantino who is a scrawny whiny bespectacled creep who lies and kills people for no reason, he also appears to be a sexual predator and kills (possibly raping) women. Now together this pair do make a fun fast talking duo of deperados admittedly, their bickering is amusing and well performed, visually they look quite unique in their appearance and attire and they are badass motherf*ckers. The thing is they do commit some really quite nasty crimes along the way which is played for dark laughs but it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. You can't help but feel they get what they deserve in the end and I personally find it hard to feel any emotion or sympathy for either character. Its like...oh yeah its sad for 'Seth' when 'Richie' gets killed...but wait, didn't he kill an innocent female by putting a pillow over her head and shooting her in the face?! Oh and didn't Seth burn that innocent (and cooperative) liquor store worker to death??!!
The main crux of this film is of course the second part of the story when the duo reach the 'Titty Twister' in the middle of nowhere, Mexico. From a dark graphic novel style violent crime thriller to an over the top, balls to the wall, in your face soft porn vampire slaughter. What I like about this section of the film is the fact they use hands-on effects, the whole gamut of traditional methods from models and puppets to bucket loads of goo and gore. I think there is a small amount of CGI for the bats and face morphing but mostly all the death and destruction is utilising classic live action gore effects and some lovely makeup work that I'm sure Savini had a hand in. Even though the Titty Twister is an obvious set it still looks the business both inside and out with clever use of props and camera angles. You know there aren't that many vampires, you know the bar set isn't that big, you know the outside is restricted for space etc...but with the odd lorry parked in the right position, good editing, some clever tricks and even an old fashioned matte painting Rodriguez is able to present a much bigger universe on a tight budget.
I think this part of the film has its ups and downs honestly. Its definitely a rip roaring brutal cadaver fest which is great fun but as the film progresses towards the finale it does become so over the top with the gore and action it loses its grip and edge. The effects seem to get a little weaker towards the end as though they were running out of cash and time. The makeup is still great but some of the creatures looked pretty ropy truth be told, what was that huge rat monster Clooney fights?! kudos for trying but the rod puppet animation used for that thing was hokey looking. I also always wondered why Hayek's character seems to turn into a humanoid reptile, that's what it looked like didn't it? not very vampire-like. The various exploding melting head close ups rock but most of the body suits and large vampire bats look very rubbery and fake right at the end.
There is no doubt this is another great example of Rodriguez's visual style and somewhat over self-indulgent obsession with the Mexican theme. The added bonus of a solid cast of Tarantino regulars and aging cult stars really gives the adventure a shot in the arm too, had this been cast with any standard Hollywood stars it may not have been as appealing. I mean lets face it, this film introduced us to Hayek, Trejo and to a degree Marin for some folk...loved how he plays multiple characters and pulls it off!
A true popcorn flick harking back to the good old days of 80's splatter comedy horror. What's more it makes you wanna see more of the Gecko Brothers with a prequel and easily a sequel following Seth. I won't deny the first half of the film felt vicious and a tad unpleasant, could almost say a fail for what they were clearly going for, but what horror/action fan can say they didn't get a solid kick out of the biker mayhem that followed. Easily my fave film involving and starring Tarantino, I just loved how they did his vampire makeup too, did you notice how his skull had a massive chin?
So judging by the films cover you could be fooled into thinking this film was set in the 'Twitty Twister' and that Danny Trejo was a large part of the story. Alas this couldn't be further from the truth, this isn't necessarily a bad thing of course but they are clearly trying to hook your attention.
The plots follows a group of criminals who are planning a bank heist. The group are to meet in a seedy motel somewhere in Mexico but through various circumstances are attacked and turned into vampires one by one. During the heist the main protagonist discovers his mates are vamps and must fend them off along with the police force which turn up. In the end the film merely becomes a vampire vs police escapade with the lone surviving criminal teaming up with the Texas Ranger that was on his tail.
This second splatter fest starts off really slow and quite dull if you ask me, we merely follow Robert Patrick as he recruits the old gang for the heist. The group itself are a mixed bag and you can see they have tried to create that iconic team of hardass oddballs we've seen many times before. You've got a fat guy with a ponytail and goatee (the homosexual sadistic porn shop owner from 'Pulp Fiction'), an aging cowboy, a young innocent looking guy (Woody Harrelson's brother) and the stereotypical tough guy played by Raymond Cruz who kinda feels like a male version of 'Vasquez' from 'Aliens'.
Once things get going on the road trip it still takes its time and feels slow. There is a pointless cameo for the 'Titty Twister' merely so they can shove in Danny Trejo with an aimless subplot and so the crooks can start getting bitten. I still have absolutely no clue how Trejo's character is suppose to have survived the first film after being reduced to mush. This also tends to bring up the continuity issue of where are all the other characters from the first film? If Trejo's 'Razor Eddie' is still alive then surely all the other main vampires and fallen bikers are still alive and well too (or undead and well). Plus the vampire bar is clearly a bad small set and doesn't really look like the original films set. This was a real let down for the film seeing as the bar is the main money shot of the franchise, where it all happens so to speak.
The film really picks up when all the cops turn up to stop the bank heist and the undead crooks all go berserk. The whole story takes a U-turn and goes from dark vampire splatter horror to an over the top action bonanza with the four baddie vamps gunning down hordes of policemen and S.W.A.T. teams amidst exploding police cars. Remember when Arnie takes down all the cops and cop cars with his minigun in 'T2'? well this is pretty much identical to that accept there is lots of blood and body parts flying around. I can't lie, I really did enjoy this part of the movie as it really changes the pace of the film upping it drastically. The action isn't the best choreographed action you've seen but it does the job and its pretty neat watching these invincible vampires leaping around and taking down various armed police.
Like much of the film the effects are all hands-on real time effects using fake blood, prosthetics, heavy makeup, puppets etc...and like the original film it works giving a much grittier 80's feel to the proceedings. There is a touch of CGI for the melting vamp shots which is a bit hokey looking but again like the original film it doesn't detract from the nicely handled gore.
I did like this film once things started to actually get going with the vampires, but boy does it take time for that. Much of the run time is a bit dull in all honesty...until the excellent shoot out with the cops. It is a bit frustrating at times too as some shots are badly edited, the sets are pokey, location work is visually unexciting and overall it does look very cheap and cheerful. I can overlook that but geez! here and there it really looks poor. There is a small Bruce Campbell cameo at the start which really feels like its there just to gain more interest with horror fans as again it pointless. Basically most of this film is very average but the violent finale makes up for most of it. The final bit of dialog between Patrick's criminal character and Hopkins' Texas Ranger was hinting to set up a vampire hunting team possibly for the third film, I thought...guess not.
Cute bit of info, the character of 'Deputy Edgar McGraw' in this film is the son of 'Sheriff Earl McGraw' from the original film. In the original film Sheriff McGraw is played by Michael Parks who is the real life father of James Parks who plays Deputy McGraw in this sequel.