Fragmented Films 17th Jan 09

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Exploitation cinema by definition tends to be a little rough around the edges, the edges being plot, acting, production values and budget, which are fearlessly brushed aside to get to the good stuff: gratuitious nudity, big explosions, hyper violence and stupid stunts. Mark Hartley’s witty self depreceating and perhaps overly mythologising Not Quite Hollywood (Madman) opens a gateway to this abyss, reminding us of our own sordid b movie past. Brian Trenchard-Smith comes across well, possibly because he had few pretensions. The Man From Hong Kong (Madman) imports kung fu to Sydney and gets the mix of stunts, nudity and action just right, even setting fire to George Lazenby (James Bond) during one memorable fight scene. Wang Yu (The One Armed Boxer) meanwhile tears Sydney apart with the subtlety of Dirty Harry coming off an ice binge, bedding Rebecca Gilling, killing suspects, destroying restaurants and climbing skyscrapers. The second disc of Extras reveal a pompass ass who would catch flies in his mouth before the love scenes because white women were ‘scum.’

Trenchard-Smith’s Stunt Rock (Madman) is even better, and by that I mean it’s absolutely fucking terrible. So carried away was he by the prowess of stunt man Grant Page (The Man From Hong Kong) that he took him and Sorcery, a terrible heavy metal band (who were also magicians) to LA, set up a few stunts and put the band on stage. If you can find a plot here, then power to you. Again the Extras are excellent.

Dead End Drive In (Madman) is set in the future where the streets are lawless and youth crime is rampant. When a young couple visit the drive in, they discover they’ve been unwittingly trapped in a maximum security prison for teens. It’s a typically schitzo Trenchard-Smith mix of action and social commentary, that ensures that the message never gets in the way of the explosions.

Turkey Shoot, included on Ozploitation Vol.1 (Umbrella) a six disc set cashing in on newfound interest in the genre, is Trenchard-Smith’s crowning glory. Two weeks before filming almost a third of his money disappeared, leaving gaping holes in, well, everything. Yet he soldiered on and delivered a nasty, and inexplicably hilarious sadistic concentration camp tale that is equal part Running Man and Hogans Heroes. It’s a totally mindless piece of schlock that delights in its appalling taste. There’s circus freaks munching on human toes, severed hands and feet, rape, murder, torture and all of the nasty stuff you know and love. In the same set, Roadgames (1981) with Stacey Keach as a truckdiver crossing the Nullabor picks up hitchiker Jamie Lee Curtis. It’s been billed as ‘Rear Window on wheels,’ and is equal parts imaginative, seedy and suspenseful. The Naked Bunyip (1970) a sexumentary with Graeme Blundell, meanwhile is just a fragrant excuse for nudity, and as a result should be encouraged.

Ozploitation Vol. 2 (Umbrella), 7 more flicks, offers up some unexpected gems. Long Weekend (1978) in which an obnoxious couple go camping with little regard for their environment is geniunely creepy as nature strikes back with a vengence. Apparently if you engage in a touch of swinging, shoot a sea cow, run over a kangaroo and throw your litter haphazardly around the bush, then watch out. The Chain Reaction (1980) is a slick nuclear nightmare that tells us that ruthless multi national corporations with hired assasains and governments in their pockets are no match for an angry Aussie bogan with a fast car. Razorback (1984) is a music video come to life, unfortunately as one irate patron suggested a $100 million film with a $10 pig. Fantasm and Fatantasm Comes Again are just blatantly plotless soft core films, questionably erotic vignettes that boast an apperance from porn legend John Holmes. Stone (1974) meanwhile is truly a great film, a hard edged biker film which revels in biker culture. The True Story of Eskimo Nell (1975) is Porky’s meets Rio Grande, by way of Moe. It offers what Peckinpah and Ford forgot to put in their Westerns: farting competitions. “There’s a day coming when I’ll stick my dick in the heart of the earth and the bang will be heard in Alaska,” offers Max Gillies at some point. This is what Ozploitation is all about. Inexplicable crassness and sheer stupidity.

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Fragmented Films DVD Column 25th Oct 08

In the audio commentary to his 1968 sci fi sexploitation shocker Space Thing (Siren), schlock producer and shyster extraordinare David F Friedman laments that “We could show beaver but not pickles.” Some forty years on things have changed. There’s enough pickles in 2008’s Destricted (Accent) to make your local greengrocer jealous. And who knew that pickles were actually part of a beaver’s diet? 

Destricted is so rude and nasty that it comes in a black box without pictures. Yet it’s done with such high art sensibilities that you’d hesitate to tar it with a sexploitation brush. That’s despite the presence of Larry Clark (Kids/Ken Park), who’s penchant for pre pubescent boys with their shirts off never ceases to disturb. It’s six short films from some of the more boundary pushing artists around, exploring issues of sex, art and pornography. It begins with Bjork’s squeeze, Mathew Barney (Cremaster Cycle) a video artist who’s works vary from tedious to wrong, often at the same time. His piece Hoist is hilarious, a man with a pineapple shoved up his ass pleasures himself by rubbing his erect pickle against the lubed up drive-shaft of a giant caterpillar truck which has been hoisted by a crane for this very purpose. It’s so pretentiously filmed that it can’t help but confuse. Extreme French director Gaspar Noe (Irreversible) shoots his load to immediately, masturbation with the most annoying moving camera and strobe effects and Marina Abramovic, Sam Taylor Wood and Richard Prince also fiddle with their pickles and beavers to varying success. Not surprisingly the most provocative and wrongest moments come from Mr Clark. He places an add in the paper requesting volunteers to have sex with a porn star. He interviews each applicant on camera about their sexual history and relationship with porn.  Then he makes them strip so he can see their pickle. It’s terrifying. These young men’s views on sexuality have totally been hijacked by cumshots and boob jobs. Clark suspiciously picks the most pre pubescent looking volunteer, who then takes on the role of interviewer, asking a gaggle of porn starlets similar questions. He then choses the one he wishes to mount. Trust me when I say from here on in, if it wasn’t already, it’s very creepy and wrong. It doesn’t say ‘Actual Sexual Activity’ on this black box for nothing.  

Suddenly exploitation is cool again, particularly Ozploitation, thanks to the upcoming doco Not Quite Hollywood (Madman), which drags our seedy sorry cinematic past back into the spotlight like a guilty teenager caught playing with his pickle. It has the ultimate seal of approval,Tarantino theft, sorry,  homage. The person crawling around the bonnet of the speeding car in Death Proof came straight from the 1986 Australian film Fair Game (Beyond). Fair game is your classic rape revenge film, except thankfully the rape is left out. Set in an outback wildlife sanctuary Cassandra Delaney (who would go on to marry John Denver) is terrorised by three bogan Kangaroo poachers with big guns and a souped up 4×4, with evil red eyes that sounds like a lion roaring when idling.  In Not Quite Hollywood Tarantino speaks of the film’s did I just see that? moment. After destroying her house the baddies strip her nude, tie her to the front of the car like a ‘human hood ornament’ and hoon around whooping self consciously like 13 year olds who’ve just watched Destricted. This wrongness only adds to the joy. This, like Vegemite is something we can be proud of.

David Lynch’s Inland Empire (Directors Suite) is a Hollywood art film, where time, space, texture and light are all tools to be manipulated. He has moved so far beyond conventional narrative that he’s operating on levels far beyond his contemporaries. We’re talking Jodorowsky meets Fellini, epic, nonsensical exhilarating genius. His best film since Eraserhead. It’s just as painful and twice as long. Extras include some great interviews.

Fox news is worse than dumb news for dumb people. It’s biased news for people too preoccupied to have minds. You wont believe how blatant they are. Outfoxed (Dv1) is a doco that will have your blood boiling and it’s been reduxed for 2008 with extra features, offering a unique perspective about the organised right wing propaganda machine that Obahma’s up against.