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The Muthers (1976)

Comments Off on The Muthers (1976) 13 October 2015

The Muthers CoverStudio: Vinegar Syndrome

Theatrical Release: November 1976

DVD Release: March 10th, 2015

Rating: R

Directed by Cirio H. Santiago

Review by Craig Sorensen

One of many Women-In-Prison films directed by Filipino drive-in stalwart Cirio H. Santiago, The Muthers tries to differentiate itself from the crowd with a strange pirate angle.  It’s unexpected but it does help it stand apart from a genre that was quickly becoming stale.  When the film is doing it’s own thing it’s a lot of fun, when it slips into jungle prison cliches it loses some of it’s charm.

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Kelly (Jeannie Bell of TNT Jackson) and Angie (Rosanne Katon of Motel Hell) are the leaders of a group of pirates called ‘The Muthers’, raising hell and stealing from the rich on the high seas.  After a fight with a rival pirate gang, they come home to find that Kelly’s sister has gone missing.  While on her trail the two are cornered by government agents.  It seems that Kelly’s sister was being held in a corrupt prison run by Montiero (Tony Carreon of The Impossible Kid).  The two women have a choice, go undercover as prisoners to help take down Montiero or pay for their crimes.  Of course they choose the former.  And we are straight on our way to women-in-prison. 

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When the film isn’t trying to shoehorn it’s way into a women-in-prison film, I actually really enjoyed it.  It’s got decent action and an over the top in the best way villain.  And how many pirate films were being produced in the 70s, let alone with female black leads?  And unlike most black cast exploitation films of the era, The Muthers, despite having an obviously blaxploitation inspired title, avoids most of the tropes of the blaxploitation genre.  It’s almost progressive in the fact that it’s never questioned that two black women are leading a gang of pirates.  No characters spout off about a ‘woman’s place’ and there’s no sexual assault scenes.  And other than one throw-away reference (Katon calling Jayne Kennedy a ‘house nigger’) no one even brings up race.  It’s refreshing to see a film that avoids all the cliches.  I just wish that it didn’t turn into another prison film about a third into the film.  It’s still entertaining, it’s just that the film kind of slips into a lazy pattern.  It hits all the women-in-prison plot points, just without the ultra-sleaze that usually accompanies those points.  There isn’t any real nudity here at all or any lesbians.  I just wish the film had stuck to pirates.

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Of course, Vinegar Syndrome’s transfer looks great for what it is.  I mean, it’s a low budget Filipino film, it’s never going to look flawless.  They’ve given the film a new 2K transfer from the original negative.  The film looks on par with other Santiago films.  These things were shot quickly.  Some scenes are a little soft but I imagine that’s how they’ve always looked.  Must be hell to transfer that though.  Colors look good with a lot of vibrant jungle greens.  Audio is available in the original mono and it does it’s job.  The only extra is the theatrical trailer. 

Rating: ★★★½☆

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- who has written 151 posts on UnRated Film Review Magazine | Movie Reviews, Interviews.

Craig hails from 'Parts Unknown'.

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