The Wizards of OZploitation!

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What is Ozploitation you ask? Exploitation films featuring Dorothy, Toto, and the Tin man? No, although that sounds very interesting. I’m talking about that golden era in the 70’s and 80’s when the Australian government funded the explosion of grindhouse films that came out of the land down under and distributed them across cinemas and drive-ins throughout the U.S. Their films featured explicit sex, gruesome violence, crazy stunt-action and the most dangerous high octane chases ever filmed. There is a new documentary out, NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF OZPLOITATION, that chronicles this magical time and the maniacs responsible for it all.

Director Mark Hartley covers all the bases. From naughty sex romps like STORK and THE ADVENTURES OF BARRY McKENZIE. Splatter and slasher flicks like PATRICK, HARLEQUIN, ROADGAMES, HOWLING III: THE MARSUPIALS and FAIR GAME. Kung fu, action, and car crash epics like THE MAN FROM HONG KONG, DEAD END DRIVE IN, TURKEY SHOOT and of course MAD MAX. It even covers a crazy little sub genre called “stuntploitation” that includes the films THE STUNTMEN, DEATH CHEATERS, and the incredible STUNT ROCK (see my separate review).

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There are interviews with many filmmakers and actors including GEORGE MILLER, BRIAN TRENCHARD-SMITH, QUENTIN TARANTINO, JAMIE LEE CURTIS, STACY KEACH, GEORGE LAZENBY, RUSSELL MULCAHY and the most gonzo human being who’s ever lived, THE KING OF ALL STUNT MEN, the incredible GRANT PAGE. He is responsible for pulling off the most insane stunts ever filmed and not only is this lunatic still very much alive, but the crazy fucker is still setting himself on fire. But that seems to be the pervasive balls-to-the-wall attitude of most of the crazy men and women responsible for these wild films. They were all fearless and it really shows in their work. The best stories in the documentary are about how insanely dangerous it all was. Like how director Brian Trenchard-Smith convinced actor George Lazenby to actually be set on fire in a scene, by setting himself on fire first. Lazenby obliged, figuring if the director’s crazy enough to do it, why not? Let’s see Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg do that!

One of the films discussed in detail was a 1984 JAWS rip off called RAZORBACK.

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It played as a midnight show at the Nuart theatre here in L.A., following their run of NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD. It’s a movie about a huge wild boar that terrorizes a community in the outback and stars Gregory Harrison (TRAPPER JOHN M.D.) What should be a cheesy little monster movie is elevated to an art house aesthetic by DURAN DURAN music video vet, RUSSELL MULCAHY. It was the most stylish looking film I’ve ever seen about a giant mutant pig.

I have not seen most of the movies showcased in this documentary, but I’m gonna check out as many of them that I can find. On August 18th, the Grindhouse Film Festival is showing a double bill of PATRICK and HARLEQUIN at the New Beverly Cinema in L.A. and I’ll be there for sure. The DVD for the documentary is coming out on October 6th and definitely worth a look. G’ day mate!

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