At the end of the festival my tally stands at:
26 feature films
2 barbecue runs
1 shotgun range
1 opening night party
1 party at Bill Pullman’s suite
1 100 best kills party
1 Fantastic Feud/Karaoke Party
1 Fantastic Debates
9 very late nights
Unknown numbers of beers consumed
It seemed fitting that my last night at Fantastic Fest was spent enjoying the fine work of our Aussie brethren. I caught the much lauded Ozploitation documentary Not Quite Hollywood and then one of the fine examples from the era of filmmaking, Brian Trenchard-Smith’s Turkey Shoot, at the Ritz at midnight. Bango Kablooie! I got my fill of booze, blood and boobs in only a couple hours. Something I’d never thought possible.
What we witness is a young generation’s response to a cultural absence. Up until the 70s Australia did not have their own film commission. When they did get started they certainly weren’t going to fund films with naked women, excessive violence and all sorts of promiscuity. Still, there was a void to fill and as soon as the first R-Certificate in the world was issued many young upstart filmmakers like Brian Trenchard-Smith and producers like Antony Ginnane began banging out every type of genre film, answering the call to fill this void of genre cinema. Their films spanned the spectrum: booze, blood and boobs. They were low budget but the body and booty counts were high. They laughed in the face of their well-mannered contemporaries then shoved their faces into the ‘chunder’ [vomit].
Taking a whole ten years from conception to completion Mark Hartley’s cataloging of the rise of genre cinema in Australia during the 1970s and 80s is as explosive and fascinating as his subject material is. Combining beautifully restored film footage with interviews with the old guard, admirers and detractors included, and the fresh faces on the genre scene Hartley expertly weaves a loud and exciting tapestry of sites, sounds and cinematic sexiness. It also doesn’t hurt that it is also very funny.
His documentary moves through three key areas of focus during this burgeoning period of cinema: sexploitation, action and horror films. He interviews as many of the stars from those films as he can. All of ‘Sheilas’ from the sexploitation era look even lovelier today. He also interviews actors from outside the homegrown crowd like Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis who starred in one of best examples of this era of film, Road Games, and Dennis Hopper from Mad Dog Morgan. Of course no documentary on genre film would be complete without the stamp of approval, Quentin Tarentino. He was asked to provide insight, expertise and his own excitable accounts of discovery in Ozploitation. His energy and enthusiasm is a fitting addition to this film.
Hartley straps us into the back seat of an Interceptor and propels us headlong into the history of this fascinating era of cinematic history. It crackles with energy and enthusiasm almost as a level on par with the energy of those films Hartley so dearly loves and pays homage to. Now, what I need is a shopping list of as many of those titles as are available on DVD. Ripper!