Bring me the Head of… is one of those historic movie titles along with Once upon a time in… that has a legacy entirely unique to themselves, spanning continents, styles and genre like no other. The most recent to see release comes in the shape of Bring me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman and has the honour of hailing from a country as far removed from cinema as one is likely to find, it’s from Chile. With the film playing well within the exploitation wheelhouse, Ernesto Díaz Espinoza’s film is part of a collective of films playfully dubbed as Latinosploitation, of all things. If you were to look for a similar Latinosploitation film Juan of the Dead wouldn’t be a bad place to start.
Machine Gun Woman (Fernanda Urrejola) is one of the most notorious assassins in all of Chile, she’ll kill anybody and she won’t do it in cleanly, she’ll make her target suffer before finally putting them out of their misery. That’s not what has made her notorious though, it’s her ex-lover Che Sausage (Longana in Spanish) (Jorge Alis) who has been solidly hunting her only for his men to turn up decapitated or bearing some rather nasty scars. It’s a battle between a crime syndicate and one woman, admittedly this woman is not someone to be mess with. Enter Santiago (Matías Oviedo); he lives at home with his Mum, plays Grand Theft Auto like games and DJs at a local club. If you were to use one word to describe him, it would be unremarkable. Yet somehow he manages to get himself tangled in this conflict, it is through him that we see the action.
Espinoza’s film is exploitation through, its titular character is basically wearing a bikini and little else, and the violence is unrelenting even in the face of obvious budget limitations. Much of the violence is achieved through squibs and creative camera trickery, but there’s one instance involving a whip and the spur from a cowboy boot. You only see the aftermath, but it done with solid enough effects for it to be a shocking explosion of violence. When you hear about a Chilean action film, you’re somehow hard-coded to expect something akin to Uganda’s recent efforts. Contrary to that, Espinoza and his crew have done a great job at hiding their limited resources, yes, it’s clearly a low-budget film but it doesn’t look cheap.
Films like this, whether they are from the 70s or a nostalgic interpretation of that era, humour is one of the most important apparatuses that allow these films to work at all. Like those films, the extravagance of the Machine Gun Woman is simply fun, with the 75 minute run time flying by in a heartbeat. The complaint is much more specific than that. Repetition is a natural part of humour, there can be no denying that, but there comes a stage when laziness demolishes what used to be funny. That gag relates back to the Santiago character, one of his quirks comes from his enjoyment of Grand Theft Auto styled crime games. That little throwaway reference wasn’t enough, every time Santiago drives the film presents it with the same music, the same camera angle with the same bold blocky mission title text on-screen. After the 6th or 7th time we see this gag, enough is quite simply enough.
Despite that horribly derivative gag, the same hackneyed ‘exploitation’ tricks and an interest in nothing beyond sex & violence; it’s miraculous that a film this imitative is half as charming as it is. All the same, it doesn’t feel right on a home video format. This is the very definition of what a festival film should be, Bring me the Head of Machine Gun Woman should be seen on the big screen with a crowd of like-minded friends and more than a few drinks under your belt, then you’ll have a hell of a time. On home video it feels like only half the experience.
BRING ME THE HEAD OF THE MACHINE GUN WOMAN IS CURRENTLY HAVING A SUPER LIMITED RUN IN UK CINEMAS FROM SEPTEMBER 27TH. THEN ON OCTOBER 14TH, IT’S RELEASED ON DVD THROUGH CLEAR VISION