Spoof Machete trailer spawns Venice title
When Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez unveiled their Grindhouse double bill in 2007, they included a number of spoof mock-trailers.
One of these, Machete, has now spawned a full-length feature that screened at the Venice Film Festival earlier this week.
The name of leading man Danny Trejo - a former convict turned tough guy actor - may not be familiar to many.
Yet his scarred, battle-hardened features have seen him cast in countless action movies, among them this summer's sci-fi fantasy Predators.
Trejo has become a fixture in Rodriguez's work, appearing in such films as Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn and the Spy Kids trilogy.
Now the director has given Trejo his own vehicle - a project that, according to the actor, predates his eye-catching Grindhouse appearance.
"Robert had talked to me about the character of Machete as far back as 16 years ago when we made Desperado," Trejo recalls.
"So when he finally had a script for me to read, I already knew the part. And then we made the trailer and we were getting incredible feedback from the audience.
"in the UK, I think, some guys tattooed a picture of Machete on their backs.
"We knew it had a huge cult following and there was real pressure from then on from fans to make the film."
"I wanted to make sure that the film would live up to the trailer we had made," says Rodriguez.
"I think Danny in a role like this makes a lot of sense. In many ways it's a culmination of the films he has made with me."
Machete received a special midnight screening on the festival's opening night, a slot well suited to its violence and gunplay.
The film shows Trejo's former Mexican agent go on the warpath against the drug kingpin who killed his family.
Like his good friend Tarantino - president of the jury at this year's Venice - Rodriguez has a talent for making grotesque violence comic.
"If you look at the violence as a laundry list of things I plan from start to finish at the movie, then yes you'd be horrified," the director concedes.
"But at the same time it makes you laugh, and I actually never got tired of it. There's enough variety and comedy there."
According to Rodriguez, the opening scene - which includes a beheading - "gives the audience an idea early on of what it's going to be."
There is also a scene involving Trejo and a long intestine that may gain its own cult status.
"I was told that to make a successful movie, you have to do three things in it that the audience don't expect," says Rodriguez. "That intestine scene is one of them."
Machete may be a B-movie, but the Sin City director has assembled a cast of A-list names.
It includes Robert De Niro, Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Alba, who gets her share of the action in her role as an immigration officer.
"It totally sucked," the actress jokes. "Who doesn't want to be a cool chick? It was very empowering."
According to the festival's artistic director Marco Mueller, Machete's inclusion in the programme was meant to reach out to Latin American audiences.
The political tensions of illegal immigration from Mexico to Texas figure in the film, though Rodriguez insists they are merely a plot device.
"I think we show two different sides of an argument in a very extreme way," he explains. "In a way, we just got lucky that those kind of stories have been hitting the news.
"The classic way of making an issue-led film is to wait for something to happen and then go out and make the movie. We've done something very different."
It is difficult to regard Machete as a political statement, it is more of a bloodthirsty romp full of over-the-top action.
"The B-movie is back," its director declares. "When you have HD TV and home cinema, tempting people out of their homes is difficult these days.
"You need to give them something spectacular, something to laugh at."
Machete is due to open in UK cinemas on 26 November.