Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Not Quite Hollywood (2008)

Not Quite Hollywood is a fascinating documentary on the weird and wonderful movies of the ozploitation boom of the 70s and 80s.

For those whose ideas of Australian movies are based on dreadfully earnest and dull films like My Brilliant Career, or tedious period dramas, this will come as a revelation. There was a time when Australian movies were actually fun! Raunchy sex comedies, kung fu movies, gothic horrors, slasher movies, gothic westerns, outrageously tasteless comedies that would have made John Waters blanch, science fiction road movies - there was hardly a genre of exploitation movie that Australian movie-makers didn’t attempt. Generally made on very low budgets but looking much more expensive than they actually were, and with stunts that were every bit as dangerous as they looked. Three stuntmen were killed during the making of one Australian movie in the 70s.

The Australian genre movie-makers of that era weren’t just mavericks. They were totally batshit crazy. It’s little wonder that Quentin Tarantino is such a fan of these ozploitation flicks.

Many of these movies are now difficult to find on DVD, even in Australia. The Australian film industry today likes to think of itself as being in the business of making Serious Artistic Statements and they would dearly love to forget these disreputable films. But the big difference between the terribly serious (or seriously terrible) Australian movies of today and the sleazy ozploitation films of the 70s is that the ozploitation movies made money. Lots of it. They didn’t make a huge amount of money in Australia, but they cleaned up overseas. And being made on very low budgets, they were very very profitable. It was the Roger Corman approach to film-making, and it worked as well here in the Antipodes as it had worked for Corman back in the glory days of the drive-ins.

The poster for the documentary sums up these films pretty well - boobs, pubes and kung fu. They were trashy, they were sleazy, they were violent, and they were highly entertaining. I’m personally proud that we here in Australia were capable of making truly world-class trash cinema.

What we really need now are some decent ozploitation DVD boxed sets.

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