Last, but not least, is a double feature disc with two of Mark Hartley's other cinema documentaries, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, and Machete Maidens Unleashed! These films very much follow in the footsteps of Not Quite Hollywood by exploring the darker corners of exploitation cinema history in a visually engaging way, the former explores the madness spawned by Golan-Globus and the Cannon Group, the latter dissects the incredible and almost unbelievable story of the Filipino film boom of the '60s and '70s.
James Marsh reviewed Electric Boogaloo at its premiere at TIFF in 2014:
Australian documentarian Mark Hartley was the perfect choice to bring Cannon's story to the screen, after the one-two punch of Not Quite Hollywood and Machete Maidens Unleashed, which ripped the lid of the Ozploitation and Filipino genre filmmaking industries. Hartley's fast-paced MTV-style approach, stitched together through a myriad film clips, interviews and anecdotes from key collaborators, filmmakers and stars perfectly mirrors the Cannon ethos of high-energy, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants filmmaking that saw Golan and Globus produce over 200 feature films in a single decade.
Electric Boogaloo brilliantly highlights the company's tactic of adopting the old studio star relationship, by bringing big name actors into the fold and churning out a multitude of projects for them. In the early days, Cannon worked with bona fide stars like Klaus Kinski and Franco Nero, to wildly fluctuating effect, as well attempting soft porn vehicles for a drug and booze-addled Sylvia Kristel. They created a multitude of roles for a veteran Charles Bronson, who was already well into his 60s when Golan resurrected his seminal role in Death Wish for a string of inferior and increasingly ludicrous sequels with Michael Winner.
While Charles Webb reviewed Machete Maidens Unleashed!
More than anything else, though, Machete Maidens stands as a document of the period of exploitation film driven by Roger Corman as witnessed by graduates of the "Roger Corman Film School." Some of the best parts of the doc feature directors like Landis, Dante, and Jonathan Demme detailing their time under Corman, and this is truly where the documentary's heart seems to lie. In interviews for the film, the former Corman proteges come off as boys who resent the old man while still carrying some affection for him. What I wouldn't give for a doc by Hartley charting these directors time under Corman's tutelage. As for the sly old fox himself, having reached the status of an elder statesman of film thanks to an honorary Oscar, he kind of rolls his eyes at the material he produced and distributed during this era, effectively wiping his hands of the movies featured here, although he never goes so far as to say the money wasn't good.
Hartley does very good work here, but Machete Maidens is disappointing because he did close-to-great work with Not Quite Hollywood, presenting what felt like a full picture of an era of film in that documentary. Here, over the hour and a half running time, it feels like we only get tantalizing bits and pieces of a larger story from one of the most electrifying periods of low-budget filmmaking in history. Still, I'd urge you to seek it out, simply to learn the bit that Hartley has documented here, and then for a good time, check out some of the low budget cheapies that the director lovingly documents here.
I find myself aligning pretty well with both of their opinions. While I really enjoy Electric Boogaloo, it does stand a half step below NQH, and Machete Maidens Unleashed perhaps a full step. Both are still endlessly entertaining, but there was a passion and the feeling the Hartley caught lightning in a bottle with Not Quite Hollywood. Still, with both on one Blu-ray disc, that's a hell of a bargain.
Umbrella presents this duo of cinema docs on a single, all-region Blu-ray disc (as are all of the discs reviewed today) and it looks great. The A/V is as good as one might expect from a talking head documentary and the HD upgrade does a good job of highlighting Hartley's flair for visuals.
The extras are plentiful, as with all of Umbrella's Ozploitation discs. The disc packs in plenty of interview outtakes from heavy hitters like Michael Dudikoff, crazy amazing trailer reels for each film, an audio commentary for Machete Maidens Unleashed, and just about everything a fan could wish for. These are definitely worth the upgrade!