Any director/ writer/ editor/ cameraman working in low budget Spanish language grindhouse cinema is immediately going to draw comparisons with Robert Rodriguez, and it is unlikely the Chilean born Ernesto Díaz Espinoza would disagree, with Rodriguez receiving acknowledgement in the credits of Tráiganme la cabeza de la mujer metralleta alongside other influences as diverse as David Lynch, Paul Thomas Anderson, Jean-Luc Goddard and Matt Groening and the more obvious Quentin Tarantino, Russ Meyer and Sam Peckinpah.
To credit his inspiration so brazenly indicates Espinoza is confident in his ability to take the power and imagination of those cinematic voices and craft them into his own unique style, yet even from a studio named LatinXploitation, the title of the film is the most exciting thing about it.
When he is caught eavesdropping on a conversation between local mob boss Che Longana, “the Sausage,” and his henchmen, small time club DJ Santiago Fernández is given 24 hours to dispose of La Mujer Metralleta in order to save his own life, a task which his own hit men have spectacularly failed to do, as demonstrated in the pre-credit grocery store shootout.
Despite the title role as La Mujer Metralleta, Fernanda Urrejola is given little to do other than look stunning and deadly in her minimal costume, which while she does both well, her appearance in suspenders and bra underneath a fur coat while brandishing heavy weaponry serves no purpose other than to satisfy the conventions of the genre rather than defy them; the slow motion oscillations of the Russian escorts in the final scene of Christopher Smith’s gruesome comedy Severance were legitimately arrived at through the plot, while La Mujer Metralleta serves no purpose other than to be entertainingly asocial.
Actor Matías Oviedo has worked with director Espinoza before on the forgettable C is for Cycle segment of The ABCs of Death, and while given considerably more screen time than any other character, Santiago is essentially a passive functionary in a minimal plot which, while largely conveyed via automobile, is essentially pedestrian.
Modelled after Grand Theft Auto, as emphasised in the introductory scene where Santiago and his friend are seen on their Playstation, the different sections of the film are labelled as missions – Getting A Clue With Shadeline Soto, Oil Checking, Getting A Gun – each with the legend Mission Successful or Mission Failed flashed onscreen at their conclusion, with the bounties of each character displayed above their heads as they make their appearance.
Considering the obvious parallels, the film lacks the necessary drive to compete with it’s primary narrative source, with only the casual misogyny undiluted, topless tango dancers beaten by their partners, centrefolds pinned on bathroom walls, a woman whipped to death in a back alley. Even La Mujer Metralleta herself becomes powerless when Santiago plays her the right song, though fortunately the film is prevented from portraying him as an overt alpha male as he still lives at home with his mother.
With scratches and dirt artificially added to the opening and closing scenes, it seeks to recreate an eighties video style, yet has none of the vital outrageousness of fellow ABCs of Death contributor (with the excellent Y is for Youngbuck) Jason Eisener’s Hobo with a Shotgun, a supremely over the top homage to the early days of home video.
Even within Spanish language cinema, Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman is behind the times, neither as entertaining as Alejandro Brugués’Juan de los Muertos nor as inventive as Alex de la Iglesia’s Acción Mutante, released a full two decades ago, though with a running time of only 73 minutes, Espinosa at least recognises that brevity is an asset.
Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman is released on DVD on Monday 14th October