While Intervision’s Ozploitation Trailer Explosion is ostensibly a companion piece to Severin’s Aussie horror Blu-rays, it’s real connection is to 2009 documentary Not Quite Hollywood – they’d make a great double package, if not double bill.
If you were intrigued by that documentary and keen to explore Australian exploitation cinema of the 1970s and 80s – the country’s dirty little secret as it tried to convince the outside world that it was all Picnic at Hanging Rock and My Brilliant Career – then this will be the disc to either further that desire or immediately cure you of it. Certainly, while the documentary made all those movies look great, the 65 trailers included here are less persuasive – there’s a mix of movies that look astonishing, and movies that seem dull even when reduced down to 3 or 4 minutes of boobs and belching. At their worst, Ozploitation movies made German lederhosen sex comedies seem like Oscar Wilde plays.
The compilation is split into three sections: the first is sexploitation and ‘Ocker’ comedies, and this is probably the hardest work. After a little while, the relentless parade of movies where some charmless, ugly bloke is relentlessly perused by half-naked women all seems to blur into one nightmarish celebration of oafishness and awfulness. These are the films that rarely made it outside Australia and made no effort to have international appeal – even more ambitious globe-trotting movies like the Barry McKenzie films are little more than a series of crude nationalistic gags and laughing at foreigners. Other films, less well known titles like Plugg, The Box, The Great McCarthy and Stork seem even more painful, sometimes taking their cues (but seemingly none of the charm) from the likes of Brit schtick Confessions of a Window Cleaner, others going out of their way to appeal to ‘real men’…
More interesting are the sexploitation titles. Felicity was very much the Aussie Emmanuelle and is made to look astonishingly dull here, but odd VD drama The Love Epidemic (only in the 1970s could sexual disease be erotic), the bizarre glam rock film Oz, pseudo documentaries like The ABCs of Love and Sex Australian Style, American shot softcore movies like Fantasm (the trailer for which memorably opens with John Holmes getting out of the pool naked, which certainly made my viewing companions splutter) or the deranged looking Centrespread – combining science fiction and softcore – are all well represented. It never quite fails to impress when you see a trailer chock full of nudity, and there’s more flesh on display here than you’ll see in more trailer collections.
Section two features horror and thriller films, and it arguably the best part. Some of the trailers – Wake in Fright (as Outback) and Night of Fear in particular – are amongst the grubbiest, sweatiest you’ll see. Unsavouriness drips out of these trailers. There are promos for Patrick, Nightmares and The Survivor that make the movies look a lot more exciting than they actually are, while other well known films like Long Weekend, The Last Wave, Road Games, Harlequin, Snapshot and Dead Kids also turn up. There are some dull trailers for dull films (The Killing of Angel Street, Heatwave, Inn of the Damned) and oddball entries long overdue a decent release – Jim Sharman’s The Night The Prowler, for instance.
The final section features Cars and Action, and these might be the Aussie films you know best. There’s no Mad Max for whatever reason, but here you get the likes of Dead End Drive-In, Stone, The Cars that Ate Paris, Stunt Rock, BMX Bandits, Mad Dog Morgan, Midnite Spares and The Man from Hong Kong. More than horror or sex, big action films, usually taking advantage of the Australian landscape and featuring insane stunt work, are what most people might associate with Ozploitation, and with good reason. Stone remains the ultimate biker movie – the only one to match the delirium of the New English Library biker novels of the 1970s – Aussie car quake films remain impressive for their sheer verve, action levels and – in the case of films like Fair Game and Turkey Shoot – extraordinary moments of gleeful offensiveness.
By their very nature, trailer collections are always inconsistent, but this themed collection is a must, even if not every trailer or every film is any good. While there are some odd omissions, this is nevertheless a thorough and as definitive as you could hope for collection of Ozploitation. A film history lesson in a box, in fact. Any self-respecting exploitation movie lover should be snapping this up.
David Flint, moviesandmania
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