Aussie genre pics of the 1970s and ’80s get a rip-roaring salute in “Not Quite Hollywood,” complete with endorsement by Quentin Tarantino as chief onscreen fanboy. While the majority of the films covered (“Mad Max” being the most notable exception) will be unknown to offshore auds, presenting a marketing challenge for foreign distribs, most viewers will get fully into the antic spirit of the thing even before the Me Decade-styled opening-credits graphics stop rolling. Currently in wide home-turf release, pic is tentatively slated by Magnolia for U.S. theatrical unleashing next spring.
Pic starts from the semi-true assertion that there was virtually no Australian film industry (what about all those Chips Rafferty movies?), not counting international productions shot there, until the late ’60s. Then the winds of social and artistic change hit Down Under, inspiring some hardy young souls to flaunt soon-to-be-extinct censorship standards by pushing the cinematic envelope.
Thus, Oz’s first new wave of home-grown enterprise was mostly sexploitative, encompassing the likes of “The Naked Bunyip,” “Australia After Dark” and “The ABC of Love and Sex: Australia Style.” Prurient comedies like “Alfie” spin “Alvin Purple” and “The Adventures of Barry McKenzie” were such hits, they spawned sequels.
Such exercises, with their gleeful underlining of Oz yahoo stereotypes, naturally appalled mainstream tastemakers and critics (several of whom are still ticked off, as interviewed here). Nor were they placated by the horror and action films spotlighted in pic’s second half, particularly since the late ’70s also brought an Australian New Wave of quality cinema (“Picnic at Hanging Rock,” “My Brilliant Career,” “The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith”).
It’s the contention of first-time helmer Mark Hartley (who arrived at the project by creating special features for Umbrella Entertainment’s DVD reissues of Ozploitation titles) and the excitable Tarantino that the pics in question had a particular gonzo energy due to their outre mayhem and reckless stunt work.
Such prolific, still-active creatives as director Brian Trenchard-Smith (“Dead-End Drive In,” “Turkey Shoot”) and producer Antony I. Ginnane (dubbed “the Roger Corman of Australia”) piled on cheap “laughs and gasps” designed to give the punters their money’s worth, often with an eye on international markets. This resulted in a few big hits — the much-imitated 1979 “Mad Max” of course, plus that year’s less remembered horror opus “Patrick.”
There were also notable bombs and a lot of idiosyncratic exercises that look swell, at least in high-octane excerpt. Among those are biker pic “Stone” (1974), eco-horror pic “Long Weekend” (1978) and even “Howling 3: The Marsupials” (1987).
In addition to bemused local industry vets, Hartley interviews a few Hollywood personalities recounting their Down Under stints, such as Jamie Lee Curtis on “Road Games” and Steve Railsback on “Turkey Shoot.” Anecdotes about a very pre-sobriety Dennis Hopper’s behavior on “Mad Dog Morgan” are one highlight; stunt legend Grant Page’s recollections of the often insane physical risks taken are another.
Energetic almost to the brink of excess, package is first-rate in all respects, with clips mostly in fine condition.