More Than Meets The Mogwai

Friday, December 05, 2008


For sheer unadulterated buzz and adrenaline alone, NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF OZPLOITATION! is one of the best films of the year, and without a doubt, my favourite documentary.

Director Mark Hartley painstakingly compiles and interviews the incendiary few who went about creating a blistering blend of pure thrills in Australia’s exploitation fare of the 70s and 80s. Forging friendships with these mavericks of genre -- Philippe Mora (MAD DOG MORGAN, HOWLING III), Brian Trenchard-Smith (THE MAN FROM HONG KONG, TURKEY SHOOT), Simon Wincer (HARLEQUIN, also known as DARK FORCES here in North America), and Richard Franklin (PATRICK, ROADGAMES), the latter dedicated in his memory as this would be his last on-camera interview before his untimely death in 2007 -- Hartley manages to encompass and showcase the amount of hard work and sweat that went into the construction of these productions. Fans, like Quentin Tarantino and Jamie Blanks (also billed as co-editor), are on hand to dish about their favourites, while actors like Stacy Keach, Jamie Lee Curtis, Rod Taylor and George Lazenby wax enthusiastically about their time spent filming in the outback (although one slight complaint: far too little of Taylor for my liking). It’s also great to see screenwriter Everett De Roche (PATRICK, ROADGAMES, the underrated and soon to be remade LONG WEEKEND) get his due, so to speak.

Trenchard-Smith, a filmmaker I’d more heard about than whose work I’d actually seen, is tremendously funny in his detailing of the exploits about a less-than-eager Jimmy Wang-Yu during the making of THE MAN FROM HONG KONG (he despised white women); ditto Lazenby and stuntman Grant Page (a seminal stuntman, Page was also the serial murderer in ROADGAMES) on actually convincing Lazenby to play a scene with real flames burning on his back. (It’s a wonder more people didn’t perish during the making of these films.) Mora (and lead Dennis Hopper) speak out about the latter’s drug usage on the set of MAD DOG MORGAN, and Mora’s quite witty while explaining past admonishments to Hopper on the set.

Early 70s sexploitation fare is also covered thoroughly, though my interest in that area has never been great; expect plenty of discussion on THE ADVENTURES OF BARRY MCKENZIE (Bruce Beresford, 1972), ALVIN PURPLE (Tim Burstall, 1973), and FANTASM (Franklin as Richard Bruce, 1976).

Sandy Harbutt, lead actor, co-writer and director of motorcycle movie STONE, also comes across as positively loony – it would prove to be his only real work (Tarantino discusses STONE’s closing minutes as probably being the most accurate representation of the code of the road for motorcycle gangs, at least as far as cinema history goes). Not to be missed.

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