As a kid I fondly remember trips to the local video store and being lured in by the cover art of many of the classic exploitation titles. These flicks were forbidden fruit for me at the tender young age of eight or nine as my parents refused to let me hire such “trash”. One of these titles that caught my eye was the original Mad Max. Seeing that it was playing on late night TV I sneakily set the timer record on my parents VCR to catch a glimpse of this kickass looking flick I was never allowed to watch.
I threw the tape in after school and my life was changed for ever. Blown away by the over the top characters, car chases and explosions my enthusiasm for all things exploitation was born. During my teenage years flicks like Ghosts… of the Civil Dead, Romper Stomper and Bad Boy Bubby really cemented a love of the style of Australian cinema’s style, atmosphere, barebones production and quirky characters. Not Quite Hollywood will I’m sure bring back similar fond memories for its audience, especially those lucky enough to experience the drive-in theatres that were ultimately killed off by the arrival of VHS.
Director Mick Hartley has crafted a fascinating document of the golden age of Australian genre filmmaking during the 70s and early 80s. This period of Australian cinema has often been overlooked and left out of the history books. Essentially buried by unappreciative film critic snobs who deemed the content of the films as lowbrow, lurid and unworthy of the accolades placed upon the more “acceptable” films of the Aussie New Wave (Picnic At Hanging Rock and other lets face it tightassed and dull flicks like Breaker Morant). Not Quite Hollywood sheds light on many forgotten films, filmmakers and their dedicated crews. Hartley originally conceived Not Quite Hollywood as a TV series during the 1990s but was met with resistance by the aforementioned snobbish mentality of those not wanting to acknowledge the era. Hartley found a likeminded fan of Australian exploitation in the form of American director Quentin Tarantino who after seeing a treatment of the documentary stepped in to getNot Quite Hollywood off the ground.
The documentary begins by covering the sexploitation/lowbrow comedy of the era with a segment calledOckers, Knockers, Pubes and Tubes. This segment illustrates the freedom filmmakers in Australia experienced with the introduction of the R rating. The R rating brought the end of the harsh stranglehold the Australian censorship board had on the content of films made and screened in the country. Several hilarious jokes are aimed effectively at a certain one armed censor who was doing his best to kill everyone’s fun. As you guessed this segment is jam packed with tits, projectile bodily functions and other naughtiness that wasn’t previously allowed to soil the screen. Flicks like Alvin Purple, Stork, Felicityand Barry McKenzie are discussed with their directors and for those who’ve always wondered what fuss with John Holmes’ member was all about can get their eyeful with a clip of Fantasm! John D. Lamond (Aussie’s definitive sexploitater who later tried his had at horror) being interviewed in a strip club had me laughing my ass off. ““I’m told I treat women like a sex object. I suppose it’s true because I ask for sex — and they object!” damn right they would buddy!
Comatose Killers and Outback Chillers covers the likes of Patrick, Road Games and Razorbackand is quite an interesting watch in regard to the reaction of American actors being used in Australian films. It became a very sore point with many in the industry as Jamie Lee Curtis accounts for in her interview. We are treated to more clips which include a fake as hell looking killer croc devouring an Aboriginal child from Dark Age and plenty of blood splattered T&A.
High Octane Disasters and Kung Fu Masters was my favourite segment of the documentary as it illustrates the true DIY spirit of independent filmmaking. Many of director Brain Trenchard-Smith’s productions including Mad Max, Turkey Shoot and The Man From Hong Kong. Trenchard-Smith’s films were low budget productions that with dedicated hard working crews and actors exceeded their financial restraints. The lengths stuntman Grant Page went to do the stunt work in these films will have you dropping your jaw in amazement. This guy is a true legend who pulled off some really crazy shit cheating death numerous times and earning himself Dennis Hopper’s seal of approval. Steve Railsback comes across as a bit of a dick when discussing Turkey Shoot and was very unhappy with the production of the film but the actors and crew were put through a lot to make that film and I don’t imagine many of them would’ve walked away without a bit of animosity towards Trenchard-Smith.
Tarantino’s fanboy rants may prove a bit much for some viewers but its hard not to share his enthusiasm for this great period of film. The copy I received for this review was just a screener so there were no extras contained on the disc but the retail edition is a two disc set packed with extras for those who wish to further explore the world of OZploitation.
A fantastically entertaining and informative watch Not Quite Hollywood will have you digging round the shelves of your video-store in search of these forgotten gems of genre cinema. Umbrella and Madman have recently re-released a bunch of these titles so do yourself a favour and check ‘em out.
Easily one of the best genre documentaries in recent memory Not Quite Hollywood is essential viewing for fans of exploitation cinema and an important cultural artefact for cinephiles wishing to extend their knowledge of offbeat flicks. Don’t let this one slip you by.
- Audio commentary with Ozploitation auteurs
- Deleted / extended scenes
- Quentin Tarantino and with Brian Trenchard-Smith interview featurette
- MIFF Ozploitation panel
- Image and poster gallery
- Audio interview with director Richard Franklin (PATRICK, ROAD GAMES)
- Funding pitches from Quentin Tarantino and John D. Lamond
- Ozploitation trailer collection
- Original theatrical trailer
- Easter egg
Available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment.