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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Friday, August 11, 2023

The Muthers (1976)

I pride myself on being a bit of a connoisseur of Philippine movies made for the drive-in market but will admit when Joe Bob Briggs showed this one it was new to me. Between being a big fan of The Last Drive-in as well as movies from the Philippines I had to check it out.

The action kicks off with a boat full of pirates lead by a couple lovely ladies, Kelly and Angie, who rob from the rich folks and share it with those living in their small village. We see this right away as they rob a yacht party. They also get into a tussle with a rival pirate crew led by Turko. This will be important later. When they get back to the village after the fight they discover that Kelly’s sister has run off and go looking for her. After a bit of poking around a government man shows up to let them know that the sister has been kidnapped and is being used as forced labor on a coffee plantation run by a bad dude named Monteiro. If they help them infiltrate the camp not only will they save the sister but will also be pardoned for being pirates.

Of course they agree and next we see them they have been captured and are in the process of being delivered to the camp. As they arrive Kelly sees her sister being taken off on a truck but can’t speak to her. Later we find out that she has escaped and fled into the nearby jungle. After seeing what happens to escapees that are caught the sister is found and murdered in front of the camp. The rescue mission now has become all about revenge. A bunch of people die, Turko shows back up in league with Monteiro, and eventually after much violence everyone gets what is coming to them.

I really wanted to like this one. Sadly, it just isn’t a good movie despite checking a lot of boxes. We get nudity, violence, revenge, and irredeemable bad guys. But this is all hamstrung by the movie pulling back before diving too deep into the reason you watch a flick like this. It almost seems like director Cirio Santiago “self-neuters” The Muthers to avoid pushing too many buttons. That is an awful idea since in a movie like this which seems tailor made for the drive-in circuit you are supposed to go places that big studio productions won’t. In that way they completely miss the boat… pun not intended.

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The action bits are okay. At times it is a bit awkward, especially when the actresses try to do their Kung Fu movies on much larger men. But there is a charm to those gags. We also get a lot of gunfights, girl fights, and even a snakebite! Then again, we get an extended sequence of them being chased thru the jungle by Monteiro and Turko after finally making good their escape from the camp. This leads to lots of them talking and walking which kills any momentum that the flick had managed to build up. For an eighty three minute long movie The Muthers feels extremely slow and tedious.

One more thing that I wanted to mention. Where the hell is Vic Diaz? I thought it was illegal to make a drive-in flick in the Philippines without casting him in a role! Okay I’m joking… sort of. Seriously though I was very disappointed with this one. It had a lot of the elements for success but simply fails to seal the deal. I can’t recommend it. If you want to watch a decent women in prison flick with a similar plot, check out Jack Hill’s The Big Bird Cage. And yes, if you were wondering, it does have Vic Diaz in it.


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