By Brogan Ord-Staunton.
Before watching the 1976 “blaxpotiation” classic “The Muthers”, 70s expolitation cinema was not a genre I’d delved into much. Being my first experience, I dipped my toe into the waters with his one and i was pleasantly surprised.
Directed by cult “B” movie favorite Cirio Santiago, “The Muthers” is yet another low-budget flick from the era, hijacking it’s way onto DVD courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome. It’s a combination of genres, Women in Prison, sexploitation and blaxploitation
The film follows the journey of Kelly (Jeanne Bell) and Angie (Rosanne Katon) who lead an all male crew, sailing the South Seas. Once they realise Kellys teenager sister has gone missing, the set sail to find her only to find she has been abducted by a human trafficking ring. After setting themselves up capture, they work to set themselves and the island of trapped women free, as well as bringing down the notorious kingpin Monterio, who runs the operation, down.
In some ways it could be argued this film was way beyond its time. I mean, a film lead with a female, african american cast? Considering we live in a time where it is seen as a milestone for a film to even consider a woman as a profitable lead, it seems this genre proved well before it’s time that unsurprisingly yes, people want to see kick ass, witty women on screen!
Saying this, this film does still give issue, but no more issues that are seen within film today. Not one but two graitious bathing scenes and some very questionable fashion choices (a turtleneck in the tropics?). Let’s face it though, this was the 70’s and that is the troupes of the genre. But taking that into consideration the film is actually pretty good natured. Most of the most shocking scenes are already in the trailer, so there isn’t much more watching the full film offers, but it is still worth an hour of your time, if only for some great one liners and seeing some kick ass women on screen. Also, arguable one of the coolest action scenes ever committed to scene, but I won’t spoil that for you, you’ll know when you see it.
It’s easy to see the influence films such as this has had on modern cinema (Here’s looking at you Tarantino). For those yet to have their exploitation education, this is definitely an good start to ease yourself in.
However, if you’re a fan of “The Muthers” already, this is the nicest version you’ll ever see. Cool, bright, crisp colouring and a lush, funky 70’s disco sound, it probably looks infinitely better now than it did upon its initial release.
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