Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. I had the privilege of speaking with Danny Trejo for a short time the other day and it turns out he’s about the nicest guy you ever will meet. Trejo is a busy man with almost 20 films scheduled to be made and released through 2014. He took some time off to talk with me about this week’s BluRay release of MACHETE KILLS, MACHETE KILLS AGAIN…IN SPACE, his first tattoo, a bit of his dark past, and his newfound celebrity.
Further down the page, I posted my review of MACHETE KILLS, but first here’s a bit of a deleted scene from the BluRay featuring BABY MACHETE!
Now let’s hear what Mr. Trejo had to say…
DANNY TREJO (DT): Hey Mark from Ain’t It Cool News! What’s up, man!
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): Hey Mr. Trejo! Thanks for talking with me today!
DT: Hey where are you at?
BUG: I’m calling from Chicago.
DT: Awesome, brother. I’m sorry about that weather.
BUG: Well, I’m sure it’s much better where you’re at right now.
DT: Yeah, yeah, hold on a minute! Hey, can you pass me that sun screen? Sorry, it’s a bit hot here. [laughs]
BUG: Aww, now you’re just rubbing it in.
DT: What’s up, homie, how you doin?
BUG: I’m good. I was actually doing some research before the interview, looking at your IMDB page and it goes on for miles and miles and miles. What’s it like to have all of these smaller roles to all of a sudden be the star of your own film?
DT: A lot of people ask me that. And for me, the only difference is that you’ve got to work every day and you get to kiss the girl.
DT: Other than that, I love what I do and when I’m in a movie like that I get to do it more.
BUG: I noticed in MACHETE KILLS you don’t get to make out with as many girls as in the first film. What’s up with that?
DT: Wait, wait, wait. Amber Heard makes up for all the one’s I didn’t kiss.
BUG: Very true.
DT: She makes up for all of the women I never kissed! The day we filmed the scene I kept on telling Robert that we had to shoot that scene over and over again! [laughs]
BUG: Very cool! MACHETE KILLS seems like such a fun movie to do with all of the stars and stunts and action.
DT: Well, I tell you, working with Robert [Rodriguez] on MACHETE KILLS is the best. Just putting something like that together is so much fun. It comes together so weirdly. I met Lady Gaga in a tattoo parlor—in Mark Mahoney’s tattoo shop, Shamrock Tattoo in Hollywood. And I was telling Mark, “Hey, I’m doing MACHETE KILLS!” and Lady Gaga said, “Oh my god, I’d love to be in that movie!” So I call Robert immediately and said, “Robert, Lady Gaga said she wants to be in MACHETE KILLS!” and Robert says, “I’m already talkin’ to her people!” [laughs]
BUG: Speaking of which, what was your first tattoo? I know you have a ton of them.
DT: The first tattoo I got was a Heckle & Jeckle in 19…1959.
BUG: That’s cool. And what was your most latest tattoo?
DT: The last one I got was on my back. It was of my three children playing on Venice Beach and God watching over them. Mark Mahoney did that one.
BUG: Aww, that’s awesome. How much of Machete is your creation and how much is Robert’s?
DT: It was really strange. When we were doing DESPERADO, Robert Rodriguez watched the way people came around me and talked to me, and he said, “Hey they think you’re the star of the movie!” [laughs] And I said, “Yep, I’m the star of any movie I’m in!” [laughs] And so Robert said, “I have this character I thought up of the other day and you’re perfect for it. All you have to do is just stand there.” And we just kind of developed the character through the years. And then when we were going to do SPY KIDS, Robert said, let’s call him Uncle Machete, so that’s what we did.
So then when GRINDHOUSE came along, they needed a fake trailer and we had this character. And after the premiere, everyone came out of the theater asking about when the MACHETE movie was going to be made! So the audience demanded it and then the audience demanded we do MACHETE KILLS. So then, Robert ingeniously put in MACHETE KILLS AGAIN…IN SPACE at the end to coax the viewers and coax them into wanting more Machete! And I just think that’s brilliant!
BUG: I think that is pure genius. He’s already giving us the reel to get backers to back the film.
DT: Exactly! And so the first one had Robert DeNiro and all of those stars. This one has an even bigger cast with Lady Gaga, Charlie Sheen, it’s like the who’s who of Hollywood are in this.
BUG: Definitely. What do you think is the attraction for all of these stars to come make appearances in these films?
DT: Everyone wants to work with Robert Rodriguez. You can act against your type and out of character. You can play a character you could never play in any other movie. And that’s just cool. I mean, Charlie Sheen was the President. Where else but in a MACHETE movie will you see that?
BUG: Very true! I’m looking again at your IMDB page and it says you have about 20 films coming out in the next year. How do you find the time to work that much? Do you ever sleep?
D DT: A friend of mine once told me, “A busy man has time to do everything.” And I love that saying. I need about four hours and then I’m good, you know? I think I really am blessed in that I love what I do and I do what I love.
BUG: I know you have had some dark times in the past. Did you ever think you’d ever be in the place you are today?
DT: Well, I never dreamt of getting out of prison. All of this is a blessing. It’s funny. I remember they were talking about the millennium. And man, I wasn’t supposed to live through the sixties. I mean, I feel like I’m living on God’s time and I remember that every day. I never even thought about being an actor. I got into it by accident.
One of the things I like to do is talk to kids in trouble. I go to high schools. The hardest thing about talking to kids is to get that in and get their attention. And then you have to keep that attention which is hard because they don’t have an opinion. But then you’re ten, twenty, thirty years older than then and it’s hard because you’re just not cool to them anymore. So then you have to give your message which is “Stay off of drugs and alcohol. Follow your dreams and you can do whatever you set your mind to. Anybody can deliver that message, but the problem is that the kids have low attention, no opinion, and they think you’re uncool.
Well, the blessing that I’ve got is the MACHETE films and my movie career. The minute I walk onto a campus, I have their attention. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not Danny Trejo. It’s the guy from DESPERADO, the guy from SPY KIDS, the guy from MACHETE KILLS. That’s the guy who’s got their attention. They want to hear what that guy has to say, you know what I mean?
BUG: Looks like our time is about up. What would you like to say about MACHETE KILLS that we haven’t talked about yet?
DT: Well, it’s just that I would watch a movie like MACHETE KILLS even if I wasn’t in it. I love this type of film. It goes for broke. The whole thing. Even the love scenes are like “Wham-bam-thank you ma’am!” [laughs] You know? That’s my kind of movie. Let’s just get down to blowin’ shit up! You know?
BUG: Well, you’re right. Thank you so much for chatting with me today and I wholeheartedly agree; any movie you’re in, you are the star to me no matter who they say the star is.
DT: Thanks, brother.
BUG: MACHETE KILLS is out on Blu-ray and DVD now! Below is my review of the film!
Available this week on DVD, BluRay, & Digital Download!
MACHETE KILLS (2013)Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Written by Kyle Ward, Robert Rodriguez, Marcel Rodriguez
Starring Danny Trejo, Alexa Vega, Mel Gibson, Carlos Estevez, Michelle Rodriguez, Lady Gaga, Amber Heard, Demian Bichir, Sofía Vergara, Antonio Banderas, Vanessa Hudgens, Marko Zaror, Tom Savini
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
While I wouldn’t categorize MACHETE KILLS as horror, it does fall comfortably into the grindhouse genre, and I’m more than willing to cast the lens a bit wide to review this one for AICN HORROR.
Let’s just say that if you liked MACHETE, you’ll most likely feel the same about MACHETE KILLS. And who doesn’t like MACHETE, really? One can’t help but root for this film as its star Danny Trejo is one of those stars who oozes charisma, but is probably one of the most unlikely of superstars to burst in recent memory. Having made a living of being Tough Guy #2 in almost every action movie and being killed by everyone from Steven Segal to the Predator, how can you not root for Trejo to make it big as the hero?
And while I felt in MACHETE Rodriguez was trying a bit too hard to make us believe Trejo as an action star with the running joke that every woman who crosses his path has to sleep with him, Trejo wears the clothes of the hero well in this one and definitely feels more comfortable in the role. There is, though, a scene late in the movie where Machete dons an astronaut suit that is pretty damn hilarious as Machete in Space is something that is too good to pass up, and hopefully the studios agree and Rodriguez gets a trilogy out of this series. With the film opening with a preview for the third film, you can’t argue with Rodriguez’s masterful way of titillating viewers into wanting more of his films with old school movie flimmage and flammage.
From Rodriguez’s perspective, he does offer up a wildly exciting film with MACHETE KILLS. There are loads of laughs, tons of surprises and plenty of geeky nods to things like STAR WARS and other nerd standbys that one can’t help but have fun. Much like AUSTIN POWERS, MACHETE is spoofing the Bond franchise but still manages to have some weight to it despite its light tone. What concerns me is that Rodriquez seems to be a highly talented director who prefers to make these grindhousey, action-packed popcorn flicks. It’s not that I mind it, but I wonder if we’ll ever see a drama from Rodriguez and I wonder if I’d like it.
But as long as he keeps making films like MACHETE KILLS, which goes just meta enough to be interesting without being annoying, I guess I don’t mind if Rodriguez doesn’t want to go too deep. He is one of the most successful action directors of the day with SIN CITY, DESPERADO, SPY KIDS, and now the MACHETE films under his belt. Filling the movie with stars that if they were in their right mind probably shouldn’t be there, MACHETE KILLS has an even more expansive cast than the first film. Even guest appearances by Lady Gaga are fun to see play out, as the Chameleon and his/her various forms he/she takes in the film are one of the highlights.
Charlie Sheen…I mean Carlos Estevez…is surprisingly good as well as the President. Honestly, the guy hasn’t looked this good in years, and Mel Gibson steals the show as Voz, an arms dealer who has a hilarious love of STAR WARS. Both actors may have tiptoed to the edge of Hollywood importance with their off-screen antics, but do a phenomenal job here in their respective roles.
While many have been praising Demian Bichir’s role as the personality changing bad/good guy Mendez, I found the stereotypical, inaccurate, and comic booky use of the multiple personality disorder motif somewhat tired, but I will agree with other critics that Marko Zaror is an actor I want to see more of. His speed and stature is something that seems fit for big screen action, and hopefully this is the start of a long career. As the cloned henchman Zaror, the actor of the same name provides some of the coolest fight scenes in the film.
I loved MACHETE KILLS and hope for a long life for this series, if only for that meaning that we will be seeing the teased third film in the franchise. Rodriguez made the hero all the more likable, packed the film with more action, gore, and funny, and made a sequel just as good as if not better than the first one. I hope he gets to prove he can top it with a third.
And finally, I wanted to share a little something about the more sensitive side of Mr. Trejo..
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 12 years & AICN HORROR for 4. Mark’s written comics such as THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, DEATHSPORT GAMES, NANNY & HANK (soon to be a feature film from Uptown 6 Films), Zenescope’sGRIMM FAIRY TALES Vol.13 & UNLEASHED: WEREWOLVES – THE HUNGER and a chapter in Black Mask Studios’OCCUPY COMICS. FAMOUS MONSTERS’ LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (co-written with Martin Fisher) will be available soon in trade. Mark also wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK and its follow up THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
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