Machete star Danny Trejo reveals why the film and the character still hold so much meaning for him years after its initial release in 2010.
Machete star Danny Trejo reveals why the film has stayed important to him. Machete was released in 2010 and received generally positive reviews, with a 71% fresh score. Machete also features Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, and Michelle Rodriguez. The film found even more success upon its DVD release, as it debuted atop DVD sales in America, on the week ending Jan. 9, 2011. A sequel, Machete Kills, came out Oct. 11, 2013, and the trailer for the third film of the trilogy came in the form of a post-credits scene, teasing the third installment as a coming attraction.
When breaking down his most iconic roles for GQ, Machete star Danny Trejo revealed why the role means so much to him. Trejo said that the first Halloween following the release of Machete, he saw kids dressed up as the titular character, mustache and all, saying “Hey, Machete!” He enjoyed the costumes and was glad that Mexican children had more representation, and the option to dress up as something other than Batman or Superman. Watch what Trejo said about that Halloween below:
Will Trejo Play Machete Again In The Future?
Machete may still return in a third installment of the franchise. The character first appears in Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids films, and later Trejo reprised the role in a fake trailer that was featured between the double-feature Grindhouse by Rodriquez and Quentin Tarantino. What ensued was Machete, an homage to B-movie action, and a sequel that, while it opened to less praise than its predecessor, paved the way for another sequel.
The teaser trailer for the third film, currently dubbed Machete Kills in Space, at end of Machete Kills sees the titular character sent to space by the president (played by Charlie Sheen) to take down a villain named The Man in the Silver Mask. While never green lit, Trejo has provided updates, calling the film unbelievably crazy. The most recent update has seen the film delayed but still in some stage of development. Giving insight as to why the film’s been delayed, Trejo’s accredited the long development to the nonstop work and success seen by both Machete director Rodriguez and himself.
Rodriguez has directed episodes for Disney+ series The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, the latter of which included a cameo role for Trejo. Whether the iconic Machete will return remains to be seen, but as both Trejo and Rodriguez have continued success it remains a possibility. Given their history of collaboration, audiences may still see the long-awaited return of Machete.
Tarantino spent a lot of time at grindhouse theaters in the 70s and 80s, which had a heavy influence on his films. Which movies were his favorites?
Quentin Tarantino’s films draw a lot of inspiration from grindhouse movies, but which ones are his favorites? In an interview for the Grindhouse Cinema Database, Tarantino listed his top 20 of the genre. The list includes a wide range of features from well-known slasher films such as John Carpenter’s Halloween, to obscure Italian-made mobster movie Wipeout.
Originating in the 1920s, grindhouse theaters sold low-price tickets to a slate of films that ran continuously during the day. The movies shown were generally low-budget horror and exploitation films, to the extent that the slang title for the theaters also became the name of the genre. This collection of movies makes it clear as to what films inspired Quentin Tarantino, and perhaps which films those invested in the director could watch to learn more about what influences him.
Although very few grindhouse theaters exist today, Tarantino has often spoken about the time he spent in the grindhouses of LA in the 70s and 80s. Tarantino is known for the eclectic style of his films that draw from many genres, many of which were featured in grindhouses. Here are Quentin Tarantino’s top 20 favorite grindhouse movies.
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Tarantino’s top pick is one of the most famous slasher films of all time, setting many standards for the genre. The Texas Chainsaw legacy continues to the present day, having introduced Leatherface as an instantly iconic villain. This grindhouse film goes to show that small-budget films can go a long way, as Chainsaw has spawned eight prequels and sequels since the release of the original in 1974.
- Dawn of the Dead
A famous pick by Tarantino from fellow director George A. Romero, this movie expands on the zombie-ridden world Romero created in Night of the Living Dead. One of few sequels that are largely thought to be an improvement on the original, it received the remake treatment from Zack Snyder in 2004. The film contains a lot of violence and gory special effects, which seems like an obvious influence on Tarantino’s signature bloody visuals.
- Night of the Living Dead
Tarantino couldn’t leave the original zombie-flick off his list, ranking it just below its sequel. Night of the Living Dead film certainly got people talking; a lot of controversies surrounded the goriness of the film, paralleling some current discourse about the violence of Tarantino’s films. Despite those criticisms, Romero’s debut feature became the blueprint for all following zombie movies.
Another high profile entry, John Carpenter’s Halloween is the low-budget horror film whose villain just won’t die. Michael Myers’ legend continues in sequels to the present day, as well as that of Jamie Lee Curtis’ iconic final girl, Laurie Strode. Tarantino tends to place strong female characters at the forefront of his film, which was likely partially inspired by the Strode character.
Coffy is a 70s blaxploitation film about a female vigilante seeking revenge on the heroin dealer that fed her sister’s addiction. The titular character was played by Pam Grier, an actress who was well known for similar performances in other blaxpoitation films. It’s easy to see how this kind of film influenced Tarantino’s work, particularly Jackie Brown in which Grier also played the title role.
- Rolling Thunder
Rolling Thunder is a late 70s thriller film based on a story by Paul Schrader and starring Tommy Lee Jones. The film is critically acclaimed and extremely violent, similar to much of Tarantino’s own work. Tarantino was so impacted by this film that he named his short-lived distribution company after it.
- Five Fingers of Death
This film is a Hong Kong martial arts movie, also known by the name King Boxer. This movie is credited with beginning a kung fu film craze in the United States, with Warner Brothers following it up with the highly successful Bruce Lee film, Enter the Dragon. This would have been a film that influenced Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies, which rely heavily on the tropes of 70s martial arts movies.
- The Mack
Another blaxploitation film on the list, this film follows a man striving to become a successful pimp following his release from prison. Starring Max Julien and comedian Richard Pryor, The Mack is considered a staple of the blaxploitation genre. Tarantino has long been known for writing and portraying Black characters in his film (sometimes to detrimental effect), showing the impact the genre had on him.
- The Girl From Starship Venus
The Girl From Starship Venus is a lesser-known British film known by the name The Sexplorer in its home country. A raunchy comedy, the movie follows a girl (Monika Ringwald) who travels from the planet of Venus to London on planet Earth so she can study human sex habits. Although this film is not readily available for viewing, Tarantino likewise does not shy away from graphic and sometimes violent depictions of sex in his films.
- The Last House on the Left
Serving as Wes Craven’s directorial debut, this horror exploitation film is about a girl who is abducted and tortured, leaving her parents hungry for revenge. Containing disturbing depictions of rape and violence, the film was very controversial and brought a lot of negative criticism for Craven. Tarantino has never been one to avoid criticism of the violence in his movies, and probably has taken his cues from Craven in this area.
- Master of the Flying Guillotine
A sequel to a film called The One Armed Boxer, this Hong Kong film follows a martial arts master with a single arm on his mission to find and defeat an assassin that is stalking him. The flying guillotine refers to blade-like weapon at the end of a long chain. It is possible that this weapon inspired the chain weapon wielded against The Bride by Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill, Vol 1 at the House of Blue Leaves.
Wipeout! is a very little known Italian crime film starring Henry Silva as a hitman who kills a few members of a rival crime family for his boss. The rival family then seeks retribution, which begins a violent power struggle between the families. Tarantino gravitated toward crime films in his early career, with the plots of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Jackie Brown each being centered around various crimes.
- The Streetfigher
Another martial arts entry on the list, this film featured actor and martial artist Sonny Chiba as a Japanese streetfighter. Using his martial arts knowledge to fight various enemies in the film, the movie was the first to receive an X rating in the United States. Tarantino often pays homage to older martial arts films within his work, even going so far as to cast the late Chiba as master swordsmith Hanzo Hattori in Kill Bill.
- The Psychic
An Italian horror-thriller known as Seven Notes In Black in that tongue, the film follows a woman whose psychic visions help her discover a murder which is then pinned on her husband. Although not largely recognized in the states, the film was well-reviewed in the 70s. Tarantino had at one point considered the possibility of remaking the movie but the idea was shelved.
- The Lady In Red
This 1930s action-drama tells the story of a young woman who leaves the countryside for the big city life of Chicago. Portrayed by Pamela Sue Martin, the lady falls in love with criminal John Dillinger and joins him in his bank robberies. Tarantino loved the script for this movie featuring quick and witty dialogue, which likely influenced the tone of dialogue famously used by characters in his films.
- They Call Her One Eye
A 1973 Swedish thriller, this movie’s title character seeks revenge on the men who forced her into a life of drug addiction and prostitution. The plot of the film has similarities to that of Kill Bill, which also features a wronged woman seeking revenge through her fighting abilities. The movie also was a strong influence on the character of Elle Driver, who loses an eye at the beginning of Kill Bill, Vol. 2 (pictured above).
This Italian Giallo movie is about an American ballerina who transfers to a German dance school only to learn that it is a front for conspiracies involving murder and more. The film was negatively reviewed in its time but has since become a cult classic, even spawning a modern remake by Italian director Luca Gudagnino. Suspiria is also another very gory film that likely inspires Tarantino’s blood-washed movies.
- The Chinese Boxer
The Chinese Boxer is a Hong Kong kung fu film also known by its international name of The Hand Of God. Written, directed by, and starring Jimmy Wang Yu, the movie follows the boxer as he takes revenge on the thugs who destroyed his martial arts school. Revenge is a common theme for Tarantino movies; it is also common for Tarantino to have small cameo roles in his movies or at least a small cameo as well as writing and directing them, such as in Pulp Fiction.
- The Savage Seven
The only grindhouse feature on the list not released in the 70s, The Savage Seven is about rival motorcycle gangs drawn together by the cross-the-lines romance. A modern western, the film features a track by the band Cream. Tarantino is known for the needle-drops in his movies, particularly leaning into hits of the 60s and 70s in his films.
- The Pom Pom Girls
Rounding out the list is the mid-70s teensploitation film, The Pom Pom Girls. The film features football players trying to navigate high school romances with cheerleaders, in the midst of football rivalries and prank wars. Another raunchy comedy, this film is reminiscent of the light humor found even in some of Quentin Tarantino’s darker content. His characters often have funny conversations on their way to some ominous deed, such as the famous “foot massage” conversation between Jules and Vincent as they go about their hitman business.