Snap Shot (1979)
Robert Winter on June 5, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Magna Pacific (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.72:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 100 minutes
The Movie
Director: Simon Wincer
Starring: Sigrid Thornton, Chantal Contouri, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Robert Bruning
Screenplay: Everett De Roche, Chris de Roche
Music: Brian May
Country: Australia
AKA: The Night After Halloween
The sexy Sigrid Thornton plays her ideal role as the insecure Angela, a 20 year-old ugly-duckling hairdresser still living with her mother. As fate would have it, Angela is given the opportunity to be turned into a swan when Madeleine (Chantal Contouri) sees her hidden beauty and introduces her to the glamorous, yet tawdry world of modeling.

However, after Angela poses topless during a perfume photo shoot for Cleo magazine, she is beset by a series of bizarre events - one of which includes a Godfather-inspired act involving a pig's head. As her fame rises, she is overwhelmed by the jealousy and obsession surrounding her which ultimately ends in tragedy.

Snap Shot showcases some terrific Aussie talent - Chantal Contouri struts and bitches her way around like a Joan Collins-esque, high-class call girl and Sigrid Thornton is believably vulnerable as the sweet, naïve Angela. And who would have thought that wacky Denise Drysdale could play a serious part! But aside from a couple of anxious scenes and a few sequences of appealing sleazy intrigue, the film hiccups when it comes to creating a sense of mounting tension.

One aspect of Snap Shot's production that works quite well is the appreciation of time and place evoked from the southern, Victorian location. The bleak, rainy Melbourne cityscapes enmeshed with the inner city subculture of the late 70s conjures up a sense of parochial nostalgia for those who lived there during that period. Yet, for interstate and international viewers the setting will be of little value, so the script, narrative and plot devices will be the driving force behind any engagement with this thriller. Unfortunately, these three elements don't quite gel together to form a cohesive, ass-puckering whole. Whilst the audience is intermittently titillated by Sigrid Thornton's rather gorgeous breasts, a few choice slices of bitchy dialogue and a number of nasty moments, the overall impact of the film is diluted by a script that lacks a deeper psychological understanding of the circumstances of the characters involved. The actions of the players appear superficial and staged, while the 'thrilling' aspects seem contrived and formulaic. Interestingly, Director Simon Wincer and writer Everett De Roche worked on Harlequin (1980), a bold, mystical fantasy that intriguingly blended the supernatural with the politically mundane. It's just a shame that in Snap Shot Wincer and De Roche decided to stick with convention and not stretch the boundaries beyond the genre square.
The 16:9 enhanced widescreen presentation (approximately 1.72:1) doesn't appear to be the correct aspect ratio as many shots appear too cramped with important information missing from both sides of the screen. For example, at 43:40 there are a few seconds where Denise Drysdale is completely missing from the right side of the frame when it's obvious she should be visible. The camera jerkily moves to get her back into frame suggesting a bad DVD pan-and-scan job. There are numerous other examples throughout. Once noticed it can be quite distracting.

Darkness, murkiness, softness, speckling and scratches plague the print. Aliasing is evident in almost every scene and colours are faded and drab looking. The source materials appear to be taken from a VHS master as tape-tracking errors rear their ugly head intermittently in the middle of the screen. This is particularly bad at 56:10. Very shoddy indeed.
At around the 52-minute mark the rather flat, distant mono mix suddenly becomes much fuller – voices especially began to sound more natural, while the soundtrack and score is slightly more immersive.
Extra Features
Not one pigs head.
The Verdict
There seems to be a problem in the Aussie film industry when it comes to respecting our filmic heritage. While Snap Shot is no Mad Max (which, incidentally, received the deluxe treatment on DVD in the US long before it was released in Region 4) or Picnic at Hanging Rock (the US Criterion is still the best in terms of transfer and sound quality), the fact that we don't take the time and effort to preserve our back catalogue sends a negative message to us Aussie movie lovers, our actors, directors, writers and producers. Perhaps I'm in the minority on this, but I would much rather pay extra for a minor film that has been treated with the tender loving care that it deserves. Even Philippe Mora's ghastly Howling III and Return of Captain Invincible got the digital spit and polish for its US DVD release by Elite. If the expense of sourcing and restoring is too much of a gamble, then why bother releasing the film on a cheap, substandard DVD at all? Three Australias for the film, but minus one for video/audio presentation and the lack of any bonus features.
Movie Score
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