Tuesday Timeshift: #1 Not Quite Hollywood (documentary)

Boobs, Pubes & Tubes.  Blood, gore and more.  This is Australian cinema at it’s trashiest.  Examining the so-called “Ozploitation” films of the 70s and early 80s, Not Quite Hollywood is a fascinating and entertaining documentary.  The ozploitation genre, similar to the grindhouse genre of American culture, covers those not-so-subtle soft porn, muscle car and horror schlock films which we less-than-proudly lock away in the back cupboard.    However, Quentin Tarantino is the avid fan who sagely opens our eyes to what we’ve been missing.  Like we need an American telling us what to do?!  Geez.  And yet, his enthusiasm is catching.  

Really though, Tarantino is just the more voluble voice for Not Quite Hollywood’s very Australian director, Mark Hartley.  This has been a passion project, 10 years in the making, which Hartley struggled to get financed in Australia and so turned to overseas investors for assistance.  Sounds like a severe case of cultural cringe in our funding bodies!  In what I’m sure must be a very satisfying “told you so” outcome for Hartley, this years theme for both the Melbourne and Brisbane International Film Festivals is, you guessed it, Ozploitation.  I guess it’s making a comeback.  And case in point, the requisite remakes are on their way (Patrick, Long Weekend)!

Ozploitation was born out of the post-censorship era when Australia really didn’t have a film industry so we set about making one, on the cheap and appealing to Saturday night drive-in kids.  Which meant sex, violence and horror were order of the day.  Blockbusters like Alvin Purple, Razorback, BMX Bandits and Mad Max were the cream of the crop… movies like Dead End Drive-In and Pacific Banana were the meat and potatoes.  Hartley takes the entertaining approach and for the most part ignores movie reviewers, film historians and experts and instead, talks to those who were there.  Jamie-Lee Curtis, Dennis Hopper, Stacey Keach, George Lazenby, Sigrid Thornton, Lynda Stoner, Rebecca Gilling, Steve Bisley and the like.  Yes that list does seem to have a strong American skew but that’s what film-makers at the time seemed to think was de-riguer. Hartley also talks extensively to successful directors and producers of the time such as Brian Trenchard-Smith and Anthony Ginnane.  Their behind-the-scenes stories are at times mind-boggling, at other times bitchy and always quite hilarious. 

The documentary itself is nicely edited, briskly paced and looks good.  All praise to Hartley on that score.  But the true genius is the joyous glee of the ozploitation films themselves.  It really makes you want to sit down and watch them all.  Well, maybe not all!  Luckily for us, the film festivals and many local cinemas are doing just that in conjunction with the release of this outstanding documentary.

Not Quite Hollywood is out August 28.