of all let me state the obvious. “The Muthers” is not a great film. It isn’t
even a good film. The acting is terrible when it’s not wooden, the dialogue is
laughable, the plot looks as if they made it up as they were going along and
the whole project reeks of cheesiness.
But it is also,
without question, deliriously entertaining! Name me the last time (or the only
time) you’ve seen not one, not two, but THREE sisters banding together to kick
ass on the big screen?
See what I
and Furious 7″ with its CGI overload. I want to see black people kicking ass in
movies. Is that too damn much to ask for? Evidently it is these days.
I’m not interested
in “Scandal” or “How to Get Away with Murder”. Chick flicks like “Love and
Basketball” and “Beyond the Lights” don’t even come close to this. I want to
see sisters blowing up shit, beating up white guys and, of course, doing the
obligatory nude sex scene. Once again I beg, is that too much to ask for?
“The Muthers,” starring Jeannie Bell, Trina Parks and Jayne Kennedy, came out in 1976 during the Golden Age
of the Grindhouse Cinema. Low budget exploitation films that packed them in
every week, back during the 1970’s to the mid 80’s, in second run movie theaters, whether
you lived in New York, Philly, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston or wherever.
cheaply made genre films with no aspirations other than to entertain and take
full advantage of the MPAA ratings system that had only been established a few
years earlier, in late 1968. Or in other words, if wasn’t rated “R,” it wasn’t
any good. And if it was rated “PG” then it had to be really, really good to
The film was
directed by Cirio H. Santiago (who passed away in 2008), who is sadly forgotten now; but he was a very familiar name during the 70’s. When you saw his name as
director, you knew exactly what you were going to get.
He was a Filipino
director who directed over 50 films in his career. and produced even more in his
native Philippines. All sleazy genre movies – women in prison movies,
action films, horror movies and marital arts films, such as “The Big Bird Cage” (which
gave Pam Grier one of her very first starring roles), “Ebony Ivory” and “Jade” (aka “She
Devils in Chains”), “T.N. T. Jackson,” and “The Big Doll House,” among many others. They
were crude, fast paced, sadistically violent at times and reveled in sleaziness.
Santiago wasn’t interested in art. He was interested in giving the people what
they wanted: action, violence and bare breasts. It’s not surprising that
Quentin Tarantino once called Santiago a major inspiration for him.
exclusively in the Philippines has some great advantages. First of all, it was incredibly cheap to make
films there, but another great benefit was that the Philippine army was very
generous. You could get a lot of hardware from them for free. Tanks, jeeps,
weapons, boats, machine guns, cannons, helicopters, explosives etc, all for the
taking. Just ask and it’s yours, free of charge. So why not make movies using
all the equipment? (I wonder if they still offer the same deal. I’ve got some
scripts that could use them.)
The plot for “The Muthers” is
all over the place, but it’s basically about a pirate/women in a jungle prison/escape/martial
arts movie all rolled into one. Even the trailer can’t make the entire plot
make sense, but who cares? As I said before, it’s three sisters kicking ass and
that makes it a perfect movie in my book.
But what I didn’t
know is that the specialty DVD label Vinegar Syndrome released a brand new 2K restoration
of “The Muthers” last month, which means that the film now looks better than it ever
did in theaters when it first came out. Why the label has been sitting on this
news is amazing considering that there are a lot of guys like me who are going to
rush to get this, to add to their collections, if just to relive the good old days of cinema for a moment.