Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Wicked Weapons: The Machete

For this segment of Wicked Weapons, I thought I’d take a look at the Machete, a weapon that invokes terror in a very overtly gruesome way. Unlike my last post on the razor, the machete is not a subtle weapon. It be the “Bitch it’s on!” kinda weapon. When you think of a machete, does something like this usually come to mind?

The rusted, brutal blade is a horror icon in its own right. There is an eerie presence about it, a deep dread that comes with wielding the thing with the intent to murder. Like many weapons, it’s also a tool used to hack down foliage in jungle atmospheres perhaps, or to cop wood at a camp site, or clear bushes for trails. It’s not a tool used for delicate work. You can prune down things with it, but in those cases you’d likely use something more precise and delicate. A machete is not a delicate tool. Its job is to clear out big messes. And when it’s used for killing, it will clear-cut your head right off.

That’s why when the zombie apocalypse comes; you wanna have a machete handy. It doesn’t need reloading, it’s easy to care for, it takes a beating, and it is multipurpose. When you use a machete for murder, it’s not just a simple cutting weapon. You are slaughtering something with it: outright gory slashing. You want to make your victim a mess. So when people look upon the prone forms, they can barely recognize them under all the blood. Machetes are weapons that don’t hide their ferocity. They are vicious, and they are unrepentant for it.

I want this amazing cup! You can buy it here!
There are plenty of films too that showcase the Machete. A quick Google search came up with plenty of material, the top one being the movie Machete that came out last year. It was a fun, cheesy gore fest about a Mexican man getting even with the bad guys, but it had a message under all the T & A and blood.  If you can wipe the body parts flying to one side, you’d see that even though they have fun with the exploitation genre the movie is filmed in, there is a serious message about the problems of immigration in the USA, especially with America’s relationship with Mexico. It’s not thrown in your face like some films do, but it is a strong message throughout the film. And Michelle Rodriguez is in it. She’s fucking slamming! RAWR!

Another movie that I’m sure comes to mind when people think machetes is the classic Friday the 13th series. This series scared the shit out of me when I was 7. Yes, I watched this film when I was 7 years old. It might explain why I am such a...strange (yet lovable?) creature I am today. Now it just makes me laugh my face off. Jason was such a frightening creature when I was a kid: Masked undead man carrying a bad-ass rusted machete, crawling out of the lake to kill stupid teenagers.

Of course, while doing research for this article I stumbled upon what some would argue was the first ever “gore fest” slasher: Blood Feast. This cannibalistic horror film makes use of the machete to chop victims up. It seems appropriate to me that the cannibal caterer used a machete to cut up his victims in some scenes, preparing his victims for performing his sacrifices to his goddess. Something not everyone may know is machetes are considered sacred tools for Voudon and Santeria rituals. Though the caterer in this film is not practicing “voodoo” but is doing Egyptian ritual, the mystical connection with the machete isn’t lost on me. On the surface the machete is a weapon of brutal force, but it is also a mysterious weapon, with a history that goes deeper than chopping body parts and trees. Before Jason Voorhees made it his chosen weapon it was considered a sacred ritual tool for religious practices. So there is more to the machete than meets the eye. (If you wanna know more about the mystical history of the Machete, let me know in the comments. I don’t wanna bore you guys. )

But I have to admit, Jason with his hockey mask and machete is pretty fucking scary. The idea of an undead wielding a machete to kill people with is pretty awesome in my mind. And when the zombies come, you better believe I’ll have my trusty machete ready to hack their asses to bits. No one gets to steal my brain meats!

So, have you seen/read any horror stuff with machetes in it? Do share. I like learning new things from folks. 


  1. Awesome last picture! It's from IDawn of the Dead.

    The only machete that comes to mind that you didn't mention is:

  2. Most excellent article Kweeny. I would like to learn more please about the mystical machete.

  3. Usually when I think of machetes, I think of someone clearing their way through the jungle. I can see how one of these would make a dreadful weapon too!

  4. Ahh, Uncle Jason.

    He's a bit bad-tempered,
    And he don't say much,
    But he swings that machete
    With a master's touch. :D

    The machete is very much symbolic of Jason himself: rusted, decrepit, clearly it's taken a beating- but no less lethal for it, and nothing keeps it down for long. (I mean, how many times has that damn machete been thrown into Crystal Lake, or off cliffs, only to end up in the cold, iron-strong hands of its master again?)

    Another example of the machete being used as a ritual tool (sort of) appears in the movie Grimm Love. It's about a couple who engage in cannibalism- one as the consumer, the other as prey, both engaging willingly in the practice. Anyway, the machete comes in when the cannibal begins chopping up his lover for meat- yes, it's being wielded as a crude hacking tool, but the way he picks it up and carries it, and the reverence with which he begins, clearly illustrate the respect he has for the instrument, and for the man offering his life along with his love.

    And I, for one, would love to learn more about the ritual significance of the machete. You know me, I love learning shit like that. ^__^

  5. For the curious:

    In a lot of ways, the Machete is used like a sword or athame would be used in Witchcraft, the difference being it actually is used for live ritual sacrifices depending on the practitioner. Those who practice hoodoo in Louisiana practice a different form of "voodoo" than those in Haiti. And Santeria, though a close cousin to Haitian Voodoo, is not the same thing. But from the research I've done, the Machete is used for multipurpose in both religious practices. It's used for sacrifice, dancing (there is something in Haitian Voudon called the machete dance) and as a powerful symbol of certain loas. (lwas)

    The Voudon and Santeria practices in the west were brought with them from the slaves, and they had to change some of their practices to have it hidden from their captors. They used alternative methods like concealing their Loas in Saints, and the use of the machete became another thing shrouded in mystery. But they continued to use it for their practices. From what I gather, the use of the machete in these religions is as old as the religions themselves.

    If you'd like to know more I can suggest a bunch of books to read that I enjoy. :)

  6. I don't know. I like the idea of a samurai sword. Like that girl in the walking dead graphic novels.

  7. To each there own. Samurai swords are definitely cool in there own right though.

  8. Why after reading this can I hear Maxwell's Silver Hammer?

  9. Because you're crazy baby. But I love you.

  10. Shoot me, blow me up, but don't slash my damn arm off!
    I think the thought of a machete brings up a lot of scary feelings in people. It is the weapon of choice in all the civil/tribal unrest that's been going on in Africa for years.


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