NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF OZPLOITATION! (2008)
Running Time: 102 mins. Rating: 4 Stars/5 Stars
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Mark Hartley
Distributor: Magnolia/Magnet Releasing
They came from a land Down Under, demented filmmakers determined to overthrow repressive censorship, which made the Brits look like libertines, and tell the true story of mates, Sheilas, muscle cars and the desolate Outback inhabited by crazed biker gangs, rabid koalas and possessed kangaroos — and that was on a good day. After taking over the Australian box office and overshadowing the Australian New Wave of MY BRILLIANT CAREER, BREAKER MORANT and PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK, among others, (all great films deserving a theatrical re-issue), the plethora of future exploitation classicdom set its’ sights on conquering the overseas drive-ins and grindhouses. In New York it was the infamous Forty-Deuce (where I enjoyably wasted my youth), Boston had its’ Combat Zone, San Francisco the Tenderloin and beyond to cities like Toronto where Yonge Street was never the same after the Ozzie invasion — which in itself contributed to Canada’s burgeoning New Wave. The Hong Kong action films of the ’80s/’90s by the likes of Tsui Hark and Ringo Lam also pay homage to the Antipodean genre masters.
Instead of talking head theorists (Quentin Tarantino borders on this), we have everyone who’s still breathing give us their remembrances, clouded of course by time past and old grudges forgotten. Brian Trenchard-Smith who churned out, in his own words, “38 crimes against cinema” is probably best known for THE MAN FROM HONG KONG which has 100 minutes of action vs. only 18 minutes of dialogue; perfect for the international market where it became the all-time box office champ in Pakistan. The late Tim Burstal, connoisseur of the tit shot helped kick off the Ozploitation Wave with films such as STORK and ALVIN PURPLE, later he directed a wonderful little gem THE LAST OF THE KNUCKLEMEN. John D. Lamond, the perv he is, has his interview in a strip club with a mammary delight gyrating on the pole behind him, was known for his sex romps like THE ABC OF LOVE & SEX: AUSTRALIA STYLE and FELICITY.
Richard Franklin, the late Hitchcock-disciple, who was interviewed three weeks before his death, discusses his international exploitation classic PATRICK (soon to be remade by this documentary’s director) and ROADGAMES. He went on to make the under-rated Elisabeth Shue/Terrence Stamp feature LINK and the charming art house hit HOTEL SORRENTO. Additional interviews include Duran Duran music video director Russell Mulcahy who made his fiction feature debut with the killer pig film RAZORBACK (you should try to track down his first film DEREK & CLIVE GET THE HORN which featured Dudley Moore and Peter Cook and is quite rare); Dr. George Miller of MAD MAX fame who was a doctor by day and filmmaker by night and weekends; and Simon Wincer who hit the ground running with SNAPSHOT and went on to do a variety of films including the kid fave FREE WILLY.
As expected, Hollywood celebs show up, Jamie Lee Curtis and Stacey Keach who appeared in ROADGAMES and everyone’s favorite lunatic, Dennis Hopper, who starred in MAD DOG MORGAN and got himself banned from driving (or even being in a car) in Victoria, Australia — for life. This is where the film gets interesting as the hard, cold facts of international film distribution gets laid on the table that helps explain why certain films get made, and certain actors get work. Here we get to hear from the hard-working producer Jeremy Thomas who made his debut with MAD DOG MORGAN (thankfully that film didn’t discourage him enough to leave the biz and prevent him from going on to produce films like THE LAST EMPEROR) and one of the hardest working producers in Oz, Antony Ginnane, who has rightly been called the Roger Corman of Australia. Most of his back catalog of Ozploitation is available in the US through Anchor Bay and Synapse.
Though they’re not as familiar to the US audience as they should be, or have been forgotten, it was great to see interviewed Barry ‘Dame Edna’ Humphries (THE ADVENTURES OF BARRY MCKENZIE), Victoria Anoux (THE TRUE STORY OF ESKIMO NELL), Wendy Hughes (NEWSFRONT), George Lazenby (ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE), Jack Thompson (SUNDAY TOO FAR AWAY), Sigrid Thornton (THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER) and Susannah York (TOM JONES) among the many other troupers who made Ozzie cinema of the ’70s and ’80s lots of fun.
If you like this recommendations: Roger Corman: Hollywood’s Wild Angel, Mau Mau Sex Sex, Truly Madly Cheaply! British B Movies