Release Date(s)2010/2014 (April 5, 2017)
Studio(s)Dark Sky Films/Warner Bros. (Umbrella Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: A+
- Overall Grade: N/A
[Editor’s Note: This is an Australian REGION FREE Blu-ray release – ignore the packaging markings.]
Mark Hartley’s explosive and entertaining movie documentaries have given many classic and cult films a new life, highlighting the madness and majesty of their gonzo productions, beginning in the 1960s and barreling through to the 1990s. The guerilla filmmaking showcased in them doesn’t really happen much anymore, at least not like it did through production companies like Cannon Films, American International Pictures, and New World Pictures. Now, Australia’s Umbrella Entertainment brings two of Hartley’s finest to the Blu-ray format in amazing high definition quality with a bounty of extras. Those films are Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films and Machete Maiden’s Unleashed!
Although I previously reviewed Electric Boogaloo’s U.S. DVD release (see that here), I’ll give it a quick summation. Electric Boogaloo highlights the era of Cannon Films when it was run by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, two men who drove their company into their ground by paying for much more product than they could actually afford. Cannon was responsible for many over-the-top action, adventure, and horror films, including Missing in Action, King Solomon’s Mines, The Apple, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Death Wish 3, and Masters of the Universe. Their heyday lasted throughout the 1980s and came crashing down in the mid 1990s through financial devastation. Electric Boogaloo covers many of the finer points and features a variety people who were involved with the company, including producers, directors, writers, actors, and distributors. I still feel that the documentary, while entertaining and exploring the depths of the company’s rise and fall, moves a little too quickly in a pacing sense. There’s so much information being handed over that it’s difficult to keep up with on an initial viewing. However, it’s very entertaining and offers valuable insight into a company that many cult movies fan today still treasure.
Machete Maidens Unleashed!, on the other hand, has the perfect pace and flow of information. It focuses more on the Filipino filmmaking that took place during the 1960s through to the 1980s. Most notably, it takes a look at the horrible conditions that the filmmakers and actors worked under, including a tyrannical government in a country of civil unrest, all for the sacrifice of making salacious and explosive movies for the drive-ins and grindhouses willing to show them. Featuring a number of Roger Corman acolytes, including Joe Dante, John Landis, Pam Grier, Sid Haig, Jack Hill, Allan Arkush, and even Corman himself, it covers a variety of movies such as The Beast of the Yellow Night, The Big Doll House, TNT Jackson, and Humanoids from the Deep, amongst many others. It feels shorter than it actually is, perhaps because it’s so enthralling. One thing’s for sure though: before both documentaries are over, they’ll have you grabbing a pencil and paper to write down some titles to watch.
Both documentaries have yet to make an appearance on Blu-ray here in the States, but thankfully Umbrella’s new release is Region Free. Electric Boogaloo and Machete Maidens Unleashed! come packaged on separate discs with excellent picture quality. It’s difficult to judge it thoroughly because of all the vintage footage from trailers, ads, and the movies themselves. But overall, the interview segments are well-shot and well-defined. Both also feature English 5.1 DTS-HD soundtracks. Again, the variety of sources means that some of it isn’t going to be perfect. As is, everything is crystal clear, including the dialogue, sound effects, and music, with no dropouts or distortions to speak of. Both are solid-looking and sounding presentations that leave no room for complaints. Unfortunately, no subtitle options have been included.
As for supplemental materials, this release trumps all previous releases DVD and Blu-ray releases across the globe, including practically everything and then some. For Electric Boogaloo, there’s a set of deleted and extended scenes; an extended interview with Michael Dudikoff; A Word with Frank Yablans; a Cannon Films trailer reel (Inga, Joe, Maid in Sweden, The Blood on Satan’s Claw, Hot T-Shirts, The Apple, Schizoid, New Year’s Evil, The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Body and Soul, Enter the Ninja, The Championship Season, The Last American Virgin, Death Wish II, The Wicked Lady, Revenge of the Ninja, Hercules, 10 to Midnight, Treasure of the Four Crowns, Breakin’, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Making the Grade, The Ambassador, The Naked Face, Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Bolero, Maria’s Lovers, Missing in Action, Missing in Action 2: The Beginning, Mata Hari, The Adventures of Hercules II, Lifeforce, King Solomon’s Mines, Death Wish 3, American Ninja, Invasion U.S.A., Runaway Train, Firewalker, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, Invaders from Mars, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, The Delta Force, 52 Pick-Up, Cobra, American Ninja 2: The Confrontation, Assassination, Street Smart, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Masters of the Universe, Over the Top, Death Wish 4: The Crackdown, Tough Guys Don’t Dance, Alien from L.A., Messenger of Death, Salsa, American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt, Sinbad of the Seven Seas, Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects, Cyborg, Lambada); a TIFF red carpet report; a Variety studio interview with Brett Ratner and Mark Hartley; a U.K. press interview; an animated Cannon Films poster and stills gallery; an animated behind the scenes gallery; and the theatrical trailer.
For Machete Maidens Unleashed!, there’s an audio commentary with director Mark Hartley, sound recordist Jock Healy, camera assistant Angelo Sartore, and line producer/production manager Melissa Hines; More Wild and Untold Stories, which features additional interview footage; a Filipino trailer reel (The Raiders of Leyte Gulf, Terror is a Man, Mad Doctor of Blood Island, Beast of Blood, The Beast of the Yellow Night, The Big Doll House, Women in Cages, The Big Bird Cage, Night of the Cobra Woman, The Hot Box, Black Mama, White Mama, The Woman Hunt, The Twilight People, Beyond Atlantis, Savage Streets, Savage!, TNT Jackson, Fly Me, Cover Girl Models, Ebony, Ivory, & Jade, Hollywood Boulevard, Naked Fist, They Call Him Chop-Suey, Master Samurai, The One Armed Executioner, The Losers, For Y’ur Height Only, Up from the Depths); a Fantastic Fest red carpet report; a Fantastic Fest interview; a Fantastic Fest Q&A with Roger & Julie Corman, Mark Hartley, and Tim League; a “Rue Morgue” radio interview; Up from the Depths monster test footage; The Oath of Green Blood trailer opening from Mad Doctor of Blood Island; an animated Filipino poster and stills gallery; an animated behind the scenes gallery; and a theatrical trailer.
Sorely missing on Blu-ray in the U.S. for far too long, Umbrella Entertainment’s presentations of both documentaries are definitely a welcome change from their standard definition counterparts. Featuring hours of entertaining and informative material, within both the main features and their extras, this is definitely a release worth your time and money to import (and again, it’s Region Free). Highly recommended!
- Tim Salmons