Ozploitation: Volume 1 (1970 - 1981)
By: David Michael Brown on August 24, 2009  | 
DVD
Umbrella (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 2.35:1, 16:9 enhanced (Turkey Shoot, Harlequin, Roadgames); 1.78:1, 16:9 enhanced (The Adventures of Barry McKenzie); 4:3 (The Naked Bunyip). 1.85:1, 16:9 enhanced (Night of Fear/Inn of the Damned). English DD 2.0 Mono. 781 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Directors: Bruce Beresford, Brian Trenchard-Smith, David Hemmings, John. B. Murray, Richard Franklin, Terry Bourke
Country: Australia
External Links
Purchase
Timed to ride coattails on Mark Hartley's wonderful documentary Not Quite Hollywood, Umbrella released two collections of Aussie exploitation classics. Before you shout cheap cash in however, it's worth noting that Hartley played a big part in gathering together the extras for many of Umbrellas Ozploitation releases over the years and the sets are the perfect way to collect together many of the films from the doco you probably wished you had seen, and a few you possibly didn't. Add this to the fact that Madman also released a slew of Brian Trenchard-Smith action thrillers including the fabulous The Man From Hong Kong. It's definitely a happy time for any connoisseur of boobs, pubes, tubes and a little bit of kung fu.

The thing that made Not Quite Hollywood such a rewarding viewing experience was the way the film gave even the trashiest of Aussie classics a place in history and as such, often a political context. Saying that, even the staunchest of advocates would be hard pushed to wax lyrical on the political leanings of the deliciously tasteless Turkey Shoot. As most of the films have been covered on the site on some form already, here's an overview of what the two volumes of Ozploitation offer the casual viewer.

Volume One kicks things off with the vomit filled, saucy exploits of a certain Aussie statesman. Being a Pom The Adventures of Barry McKenzie will always be a bizarre watch. Coming across as a xenophobic Aussie Benny Hill, Barry McKenzie's slapstick humour and blatant nudity hide a vicious streak, condemning the very thing that most of the films original viewers thought the film celebrated: the Aussie bloke. The film is pretty dated nowadays but it's easy to see why Barry Croker and Barry Humphries appealed to that generation. As a period piece, it's an entertaining curiosity and a perfect way to start the collection.

Turkey Shoot is a masterpiece of tasteless sleaze and gore. What more can you say, it's a future manhunt featuring hand lopping, vicious lesbians, brutal prison guards and a mutant called Alf with a penchant for biting of toes. Brian Trenchard-Smith handles the action with aplomb and despite the film's low budget trappings it's an extremely exciting and entertaining exploitation film that delivers the goods again and again.

Harlequin starts off like a pedestrian television drama and then goes completely off the rails. The moment the true nature of Robert Powell's titular anti hero becomes apparent the film shows promise as he starts weaving his magic spells; cutting birds in half during dinner parties being the piste de resistance. Strangely for an Anthony. I. Ginanne production, the film's central conceit, that the Harlequin has cured a terminally ill child, has a heart but most viewers thoughts will be focused on the over the top performance from Powell. To be honest the film never quite lives up to its trailer and meanders far too much on plotlines far too mundane for an exploitation film but overall its good fun.

The Naked Bunyip, released in 1976, was made to set the record straight on Aussie sexuality. Alvin Purple himself Graeme Blundell hosts this then controversial, cult 'sexumentary' that challenged the censors but managed to fill the cinemas with promises of naked flesh abound. The film marked the birth of the Oz film revival and is still a fascinating, if dated, glimpse at a prudish era. Barry Humphries guests as an early Dame Edna and get's all of the film's best dialogue "lesbians leave a bad taste in my mouth!"

Road Games is the late, great Richard Franklin's suspense masterwork starring Stacey Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis as a duo driving across the long desolate highways of the Australian outback. The film uses the loneliness of the long distance driver to tease the viewer's unease as trucker Keach begins to suspect he may be sharing the tarmac with a serial killer. Franklin uses many of his mentor Alfred Hitchcock's tension building tricks to tell his tale. Road Games is a white knuckle ride with an Aussie twist.

The double bonus of Night of Fear and Inn of the Damned are the product of the directing/producing team of Terry Bourke and Rod Hay. Night of Fear is a tale which will be familiar to many. Hunted and trapped, our heroine, lost in the woods, stumbles across a woodsman dwelling full of blood and bones. The occupier, a cannibalistic recluse with a penchant for rats, skulls and dismembering travellers, delights in torturing and tormenting her. She escapes; spending the rest of the movie running for her life, screaming for help, but no one is listening. In the Outback, no one can hear you scream! The film caused a furore when originally released and was banned for years. The follow up, Inn of the Damned took the dark gruesome trappings and put them in an outback Western with a splash of bath tub lesbian action to provoke the censors.
Video
Overall these films look good, generally the transfers are bright and colourful. Obviously there are signs of age and wear and tear and a consideration has to be made for the budget of some of these features. Obviously some fare better than other but overall, this is the best these films have any right to look like.
Audio
A mixed bag but overall, like the video content, the audio has been given a thorough clean up and is easy to listen to.
Extra Features
Each disc is a replica of the previous Umbrella Entertainment single disc so here goes:

The Adventures of Barry McKenzie includes an introduction by Dame Edna, the original Film script and the theatrical trailer.

Turkey Shoot features two featurettes: Blood and Thunder Memories covering the making of the film and A Good Soldier on director Brian Trenchard-Smith. The disc is finished off with the theatrical trailer.

Harlequin includes an Audio Commentary by director Simon Wincer And Producer Anthony I. Ginnane along with a theatrical trailer and a stills gallery.

A Funny Sort of way covers the making of The Naked Bunyip and shows how revolutionary the films now innocent glimpses were when the film was released. Deleted scenes, both audio and visual are also included to show how ridiculous some of the censorship was back then.

The Road Games disc includes an audio commentary by the late Richard Franklin. Kangaroo Hitchcock: The Making of Road Games includes interviews with the director along with star Stacey Keach. A poster gallery, storyboards and the theatrical trailer round things off.

The Night of Fear/Inn of the Damned double bill includes two commentaries, both include producer Rod Hay along with cast members Carla Hoogeveen and Tony Bonner respectively. Original theatrical trailers and a stills and promotional gallery covering both films are also included.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Yes, the cynical amongst you will exclaim that this is a blatant cash in on Not Quite Hollywood but be honest what can you say? It is an obvious move on Umbrella's part but, apart from the loss of a couple of extra discs from double disc sets that were not replicated here, this is a win win situation for anyone interested in having a butchers at the film's that Hartley's documentary helped you rediscover. Under fifty bucks for 6 Ozploitation classics, that's a bonza deal in anyone's book.

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