True sleazehounds and grindhouse nuts can appreciate the marvels of a film’s budget that equals the price of a used AMC Gremlin. So, if you’re looking to sidestep the high profile 70s remakes from Follywood, and want to find some cheap, sleazy cinematic mayhem, then you need to check out this Argentinean gem, done on a reportedly $5k budget.
In a quaint little house out in the Argentina countryside, a group of young chicas prance around in their bikinis, preparing for a birthday party for an expected guest. All is hunky dory, with lots of sunshine and low angle shots of the cute little tushies, gloriously and barely contained. Yeah! I know – how cool It gets better when the chicas breakout in a full on dance sequence, bouncing and line dancing to some fresh mix on the CD player. All is just merry and bright, and you start glancing around for the nearest box of tissues. That is until one of the girls gets like really annoyed with the skipping CD and doesn’t want to participate in the house-sanctioned antics, anymore. Before you can say “wipe the disc in a circular motion!” a 300 pound, Chullo cap wearing monster of a man, barrels down on the hapless chick, tossing a sledge hammer to the side of her head. And before the blood can seep from the girl’s opened head, the brute stomps back to his shack out back. What the flipflop!!
What we find out, as a result of this, um… reprimanding, is that the girls of the house are required to adhere to some simple, yet odd and stringent, house rules: silenceo! (do NOT speak about what goes on in the house), obediencia! (obedience), and felicidad! (have fun – no matter what!). If they can manage to obey these rules, well, then you won’t get pummeled about the chest, neck and head area.
On the surface, 36 Pasos could be yet another minor version of Agatha Christie’s well-worn tale of Ten Little Indians – except done in bikinis. And what’s not to like about that, if’n you’re a guy? But, like many of the genre’s classics, there’s a little bit more under the surface, there for those of us in the audience who like to dig through to find the underlying blood-soaked socialogical message. Like many of his grindhouse kin, director Adrián García Bogliano depicts the worst kind of mistreatment of women. But, he does it with a clever wink. The characters in the film may be misogynists, but much like Asian nasty Takashi Miike does, Bogliano plays that tender line between titillation and appreciation smartly. He’s certainly a horndog, but that doesn’t give automatic membership to the men’s woman-hatin’ club.
36 Pasos is a clever throwback to the sexploitation flicks of the 60s and 70s, only with a smart and witty bite to it.