(2008) dir. Mark Hartley
This film just blew through town a couple weeks ago, and it got covered a fair amount in the local rag. It seemed interesting and fun, and it brought to mind a little documentary extra that I saw when at the end of the DVD for Lady Terminator (1984), which was about the Indonesian exploitation film market. The parallels between the two are quite abundant, in that neither country had much of a film industry and both had quite strong censorship rules that were suddenly lowered, creating a space for cheap film-making.
With the Aussies, though, they went through more genres than the Indonesians, starting with a lot of Erotica and sex romp comedies, the stuff that enabled pay cable channels of the mid-1980’s in America to fill their late night schedules. But they also went for Gore and Horror, multiple forms of Exploitation film-making, even martial arts. Most every aspect of it was all on the cheap, and the notable films, well, the only one that the average person has probably heard of is Mad Max (1979).
This film is full of cheery folks reminiscing about the outrageous films and outrageous people and outrageous times that were had in the day, interspersed with myriad shots of either frolicking nudes, exploding heads, marsupial werewolves, giant boars, blood, cars, explosions… Actually, while the movie keeps a lively pace, it’s so quick cut between this frantic array of images and quips that much gets shuffled under the next one or ten. I mean, there is a lot of stuff to work with. And there are some amusing tales.
But with the main proponent being Quentin Tarantino, who actually is less obnoxious for some reason than normal here, there are a couple of staid and grouchy Australian film critics who have nothing nice to say about the films. It’s not the most balanced or directed of discussions. It’s also broken down by genre rather than by chronology. But it gets to be a muddle in many ways, lacking any real high points, nor proving out any masterpieces (despite Tarantino’s opinion).
It was interesting to me that many of the people interviewed acknowledged the influence of Wake in Fright (1971) and Walkabout (1971), among other films made about Australia by non-Australians, as the influence for the industry to spark, to make films initially about themselves, though in a lampooning and cheeky start. And they have great disdain for the more artistic market of films.
Still, there is interesting stuff here, probably several films that I will seek out, just to see what I think. All in all, though, this is not a bad film, and kind of fun, but never really makes a mark of anything particularly significant. Ah well, if you’re not Quentin Tarantino.