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DVD Review

DVD cover

Not Quite Hollywood


Starring: Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jamie Blanks, Dennis Hooper, Barry Humphries, Stacy Keach and George Lazenby
Optimum Home Entertainment
RRP: £17.99
Certificate: 18
Available 30 March 2009

In the early seventies something wonderful happened to Australian cinema, they introduced the ‘R’ rating for movies. From what once was perceived as a deeply conservative country the ‘R’ rating let loose an anarchic explosion of boobs, pubes and graphic violence, suddenly a whole new genre was born Ozploitation...

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! (2008 - 1 hr, 38 min, 45 sec) is a celebratory documentary about the rise and fall of Australian exploitation films, written and directed by Mark Hartley. The film won an award at the Australian Film Institute for best documentary.

I have to admit to being a fan of these often over the top schlock movies, which exist a million miles from the art house sensibilities of Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and Breaker Morant (1980), having seen nearly all of the movies on late night TV or having found them in the back of a seedy video rental store, most should be familiar to avid film watchers (The Long Weekend (1978), Patrick (1978), Roadgames (1981), Turkey Shoot (1982) and the very influential Mad Max (1979)).

It would seem that I am not alone in this guilty pleasure as the documentary heavily features Quentin Tarantino’s enthusiastic promotion of these films, as well as a number of other directors detailing how these films informed their own work. With the advent of Wolf Creek (2005) and Storm Warning (2007) this genre of over the top horror, exploitation film seems to be having a mini renaissance.

The film is split into three sections the first of which deals with sex comedies. ‘Ockers, Knockers, Pubes and Tubes, films which look as dire as their British counterparts of the same era - though the inclusion of Barry Humphries adds a great deal of irreverent weight to the section as he proclaims in one insightful piece that culture: “well it’s just cheese or yogurt”. His levity does hide a nugget of truth, in order to have high art low art needs to exist.

One of the things which is really wonderful about the documentary is the frankness, bordering on slander, with which the two camps - the schlock directors and actors and the film elite - are willing to tear chunks out of each other. Their willingness to air their diametrically opposed views in terms of having each other burned or buried alive is a refreshing change from the usual love-in that directors and critics usually indulge in.

The middle section, Comatose Killers and Outback Chillers, takes a look at the gore fest which exploded out of Australia. What can you say? There’s buckets of blood and absurd plot lines. I especially loved the one about a possessed Mr Whippy van offing people. Like the sex comedies, the films are high on visceral visuals and low on subtext.

The last section, Mad Max and Other Crazy Stunts, does what it says. Here you will discover such wonderful facts like they were so short of special effects that it was easier to shoot real bullets at the actors. Australia seems gifted with some of the most suicidal stuntmen in the world. Prepare to spend this section thinking: "What the f*ck? No way!"

Given the amount of film clips the quality of the picture can be variable, but that’s the price you pay for seeing films that hardly got distributed outside of some drive-ins. Hartley keeps the pace up throughout so there’s never a dull moment. Audio come in both 2.0 and 5.1 flavours.

If the film wasn’t enough, the disc comes chock full of extras. First up is the full length commentary with the director as well as a number of the auteurs. Ozploitation at MIFF (19 min, 17 sec). Melbourne International Film Festival has a panel of film makers at the Melbourne International Film Festival talking about their experiences of making films in the seventies and eighties. Next up is Quentin Tarantino Speaks with Brian Trenchard-Smith (12 min, 58 sec) which is more good natured banter than any great insights into film making, amusing nonetheless, and an Interview with Mark Hartley (22 min, 31 sec) explaining why he wanted to make the film. In a separate section you get the theatrical trailer for this film as well as Patrick, Turkey Shoot, Long Weekend, Roadgames and Dead Kids.

It’s difficult to know what my favourite moments were, definitely Dennis Hopper being completely crazy and over the top, and the insane moment when a gang strap a girl to their front bumper and use her as a hood ornament. With that you can conclude that you had better check your artistic sensibilities at the door and just enjoy the wild and weird ride that was Australian exploitation films.


Charles Packer

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