Director: Cirio H. Santiago
Vinegar Syndrome

THE MUTHERS hijack their way onto DVD courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome.

Who are THE MUTHERS? They are Kelly (TNT JACKSON's Jeanne Bell) and Anggie (MOTEL HELL's Rosanne Katon) who head a band of pirates sailing the South Seas vying with treacherous rival pirate Turko (John Montgomery, SOMETHING WILD) for the booty on unsuspecting pleasure yachts. Upon returning to their secret cove, Kelly learns from right hand man Sancho (Sam Sharruff) that her sixteen-year-old sister Sandra has run off to Santo Domingo. Failing to find her there – and nearly raped by sleazy bar owner Murphy (Dick Piper, SHE DEVILS IN CHAINS) – they are informed by Navarro (Bert Oliver) of the Justice Department that Sandra is one of many unescorted young women who have been abducted and taken to the remote coffee plantation of Monteiro (Tony Carreon, AMERICAN NINJA) who he has been trying to bust. Since his own spy at the plantation Joyce has lost contact with him, he recruits them as spies (with arrest for their pirate activities as the only alternative). Arriving at the plantation, they learn from fellow inmate Marcie (Trina Parks, DARKTOWN STRUTTERS) that Sandra and Joyce escaped into the jungle; and they soon witness what happens to escapees who are caught. Still holding out hope for Sandra's survival, Kelly and Anggie plot their escape against the warnings of Marcie and Monteiro's house… um, slave Serena (Jayne Kennedy, MS. 45) that Monteiro knows who they are and why they are there. When Marcie and Serena realize the hopelessness of their own situations, they escape with Anggie and Kelly into the jungle. They reunite with The Muthers' crew, but Monteiro's men are in pursuit from land and Turko's men are coming from the sea.

Another American/Fillipino co-production from the prolific Cirio H. Santiago – whose early to mid-1970s output was largely divided between collaborations with Roger Corman's New World Pictures and the Woolner brothers Dimension Pictures (as with this one) – THE MUTHERS is lower on female pirate action than a variation on the women-in-prison genre that first brought Corman and Jack Hill to the Philippines in the earlier half of the decade. Santiago still cannot stage an exciting fight scene through choreography or even tight editing to make a performer with no martial arts training seem adept, but the central quartet of women are suitably sympathetic hard-asses – particularly the stunning Kennedy, then-wife of Leon Isaac Kennedy with whom she appeared in Santiago's DEATH FORCE (available from Vinegar Syndrome in a double bill with Santiago's VAMPIRE HOOKERS) – to make the climactic shootouts compelling. Ken Metcalfe (FIRECRACKER) - who appeared in a number of Santiago and Eddie Romero productions while casting locals for bigger Fillipino-lensed American productions like APOCALYPSE NOW - appears as a procurer with his pick of Monteiro's girls. Some of the stock music includes Francesco De Masi tracks that date back to either THE MURDER CLINIC or Riccardo Freda's THE GHOST, and may have been ripped from J.P. Merino's RETURN OF THE ZOMBIS as THE HANGING WOMAN (the 1974 International Artists release of which somehow involved the Woolner brothers).

Not to be confused with the 1968 Don Davis film – especially since Vinegar Syndrome released a triple-feature of Davis' films last month – THE MUTHERS was released by the Woolner brothers' Dimension Pictures and then on VHS by Continental Video. Vinegar Syndrome's progressive, anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer is derived from a 2K scan of the 35mm negatives, and the results are crisp and generally colorful (if not entirely vibrant given the original photography and cheap processing). The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track sports clear dialogue, canned gunshot sound effects, and stock music of varying recording quality. The sole extra is the film's theatrical trailer (2:19). (Eric Cotenas)