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Film of the week

Not Quite Hollywood: 103 minutes. Rated: MA. Director: Mark Hartley. Starring: Brian Trenchard-Smith, Russel Mulcahy, Quentin Tarantino, Philip Adams, Barry Humphries et al.

Not Quite Hollywood, movie poster, cropped 300 by 300

During the 1970s, Australian cinema experienced what many now regard as its golden age. Filmmakers such as Peter Weir (Picnic at Hanging Rock) and Gillian Armstrong (My Brilliant Career) were turning out the kind of 'culturally important' films with popular appeal that see a film industry excel on the world stage.

Gleefully scuffing up the flipside of that glittering coin were a raft of filmmakers creating the kind of cinema that was tailor-made for the drive-in set. These were Australia's answer to US and European 'exploitation' movies; low-budget genre flicks that exploit violent, sexualised or other lowbrow content for sheer entertainment value.

The most famous (or infamous) products of the 'Ozploitation' boom include Mad Max and The Adventures of Barry McKenzie. Other notable mentions include the killer pig horror of Razorback (think Jaws in the outback), the 'nature fights back' thrills of The Long Weekend, and the abysmally bad but oh-so-fun antics of Turkey Shoot — which has the distinction of being Phillip Adams' least favourite film.

All of these, and many others, are bounced around like thrill-busting piñatas by director Mark Hartley in Not Quite Hollywood. Obviously a fan, Hartley crams plenty of excerpted footage into this irreverent but reverential documentary. It's a larrikin celebration of the best of bad Aussie cinema.

The complementary interviews are both plethoric and downright fascinating. Ozploitation brand-name directors Brian Trenchard-Smith and Russel Mulcahy relive their glory days. Cultural commentators Adams and Barry Humphries deride the genre and its proponents. Actors recall the indignity (or otherwise) of getting their kit off for the camera. Crewmembers relate the very real danger of being involved with amateur stunt work.

All marvel at the maverick and pioneering efforts of filmmakers determined to push the envelope despite working with limited resources and against the grain of cultural acceptability.

Quentin Tarantino, himself a great lover of cinema and self-schooled expert on exploitation films, dedicated the Sydney premier of his film Kill Bill to Trenchard-Smith. The fact that he features prominently as a Not Quite Hollywood talking-head, gushing like a fanboy on sherbert about his Ozploitation favourites, is a boon for Hartley and a tribute to just how well these filmmakers knew their stuff.

The documentary is exuberantly packaged, frank and unashamedly celebratory. You may not harbour much respect for these decidedly unrespectable films, but Not Quite Hollywood is much more than the sum of its parts. It's a solidly crafted account of the Australian film scene at its cheekiest and most outlandish. A must for film buffs and budding cultural critics alike.

What's your favourite Australian genre film, and why? Post your comments below!

Official Not Quite Hollywood website

Tim KroenertTim Kroenert is Assistant Editor of Eureka Street. His articles and reviews have been published by The Age, Inside Film, the Brisbane Courier Mail and The Big Issue. He is a contributor to the volume American Exorcist: Critical Essays on William Peter Blatty. Email Tim



Topic tags: Tim Kroenert, Not Quite Hollywood, Mark Hartley, Ozploitation, Trenchard-Smith, mad max, turkey shoot



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Existing comments

Admittedly I haven't seen a whole lot of Aussie exploitation movies, but of the ones I've seen, Razorback would have to be my favourite. Over the top violence, insane characters, gratuitous nudity, and surprisingly beautiful cinematography - what's not to love!

BMcBean | 28 August 2008  

I just saw Razorback for the first time recently, and I must say you are quite right about the cinematography Brett - it is beautiful for what is a fairly throwaway kind of popcorn flick.

I was also suitably impressed by the creature effects - that pig was easily as believable as the shark from Jaws.

I disagree about the violence and nudity, which I thought were surprisingly subdued - perhaps less is more in this instance?

Charles Boy | 04 September 2008  

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