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Machete Kills: Bad=Good Craze Continues

We come now to the exploitation film. That guilty pleasure you find yourself enjoying on a Saturday night on television (or VHS, if you still use that.) There is nothing complex about it. It's just mindless, nonsensical, dirty fun. Why can't you pull away from it? What is it about the lowbrow, low-budget picture that not only keeps you watching, but makes you come back for more after it's all done?

I've said before that filmmaker Robert Rodriguez' films are ones that remind us that movies don't always have to be sophisticated with heavy and profound messages. He makes films that are fun. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on which side of the fence you happen to be on regarding exploitation films), the same is true for the Machete series, which we know is an homage to exploitation films of the old days.

Machete Battle

Why would anyone want to see the kind of film that is so over-the-top in its violence, sex and destruction? I don't know for sure, but I can say that there are good movies, bad movies, and then there are movies so bad that they're still good in some way. Something about the fact that a film so bad, with campy acting and a plot so thin it's almost nonexistent, actually touches you in some way. 

One guess I have as to why many eat the exploitation film up, is because there is a boldness in the ways something is exploited in such films. Most of the movies within this genre, and all the subgenera underneath that umbrella, are consciously reveling in what they are exploiting. Be it the megastar(s), the curvy and busty women or the excessive blood spatter and violence, there is a pride that these films take in depicting these things. The exploitation film is a kind of film that doesn't take itself too seriously and yet there is something about it that speaks to our deeper desires, fantasies, fears, and emotions, which could be kind of serious, depending on the conversation you have with yourself after watching such a film, if you give it a second thought.

Random Exploitation Films

To me, and probably to many others out there, Rodriguez is the indie film personified. He is Mr. One-Man Film Crew, right? Sure, the budgets he works with these days are substantially larger than in the days when he volunteered for medical research studies to fund El Mariachi, but even his big budget films are not nearly as much as some of the other big budget films that get made. Given that, it makes sense for Rodriguez to feel comfortable exploring the low-budget exploitation feature. I find it interesting that Rodriguez's non-exploitative films were made relatively cheaply, but look like they cost a lot of money to make, while the Machete films look grimier and purposely less polished, like an old-fashioned exploitation movie. This really is right up his alley.

In many ways, he is doing what he's always done. All of his films have the fun element attached in some way, which I think, at the end of the day is the center of why the exploitation film is appealing. Sometimes, we don't feel like thinking or having to fully pay attention to the story while watching a movie. Sometimes we just want to turn off our brains and be fed mindless fun. It's a lot like watching what we eat. You spend all this time looking at nutrition facts; how much sugar is in this, how much sodium is in that, how many calories will I take in? Sometimes we want to eat that piece of chocolate cake that we know isn't healthy for us, yet we relish it in all its richness. 


So yeah the exploitation film can be downright disturbing, and make you feel as if you need to take several showers after you've seen one, but during the time you're watching, it takes you somewhere else and you let it. Machete Kills looks like it'll do just that and audiences will have fun on the ride.


Meet the Author

About / Bio
Steven Armstrong is an editor and staff writer for Entertainment Fuse's Movie Department. He also is a creative writer of fiction and poetry, an occasional filmmaker and electronic musician who enjoys reading, writing, video games, movies and any good story.

Should you be curious, he can also be found talking about movies for the Center 4 Cinephiles (C4C) on YouTube.

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