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Saturday, March 15, 2014


As all movie fans know, there's nothing more kickass than a collection of movie trailers!  Unless, of course, it's a collection of trailers for rom-coms or Merchant Ivory films.  Those don't get described as "kickass" very often.  But you know what does?  Ozploitation flicks!!!  So you know what would be a really kickass trailer collection?  OZPLOITATION TRAILER EXPLOSION!!!

This 2014 DVD from Intervision doesnt literally explode, of course, but there may be times when you'll think it is, or that your brain itself is exploding from the overload of pure, unadulterated exploitational trash-cinema goodness that you're subjecting it to. 

It's a delirium-inducing cornucopia of drive-in fodder that offers ample evidence that the Australian film industry was a beehive of activity back in the glorious 70s and 80s, with directors such as the great Simon Wincer ("Lonesome Dove", "Quigley Down Under"), actor and Rick Wakeman album narrator David Hemmings, the prolific Colin Eggleston, and even Peter Weir and Bruce Beresford manning the director's chair.  (If the production could afford a director's chair, that is.)

The three things that best transcend a low budget are sex, horror, and action, so these trailers fit snugly within those categories.  "Sexploitation and 'Ocker' Comedies" ("ocker" meaning "consisting of broad and uncultured Aussie stereotypes") gets the ball rolling with a string of low-class and often painfully corny flicks that are as twangy and hick-ified as "Hee Haw."

Barry Crocker and Barry Humphries give us the rowdy musical "The Adventures of Barry McKenzie" (with a young Peter Cook) and its sequel, "Barry McKenzie Holds His Own", guest-starring none other than Donald Pleasence as Count Plasma the vampire.  Graeme Blundell, who went on to play Padme's father in deleted scenes from "Attack of the Clones", stars in a couple of "Alvin Purple" romps about the sexploits of a nerdy-looking chick magnet who is given this valuable business advice: "There are openings everywhere for the right man!"

"Plugg" offers the gorgeous Cheryl Rixon along with some really bad cop hijinks, while Susannah York and Trevor Howard find themselves ensconced in a dreary-looking period costume farce called "Eliza Fraser."  The trailers for "Fantasm" and "Fantasm Comes Again" feature a too-close-for-comfort view of John Holmes' trouser snake while giving us teasing glimpses of favorite 70s porn stars Candy Samples (as "Mary Gavin"), Uschi Digard, Roxanne Brewer,  Rene Bond, and Rainbow Smith. 

In addition to the slapdash and gleefully vulgar comedies are nudge-nudge wink-wink mockumentaries such as "The Love Epidemic", which exhorts viewers to have sex while warning them of V.D., and "The ABC of Love and Sex Australia Style", which we examined in detail here.  All serve as naughty looks at what was considered shocking in "Strine" society in those days and, like the comedies, are brimming with a multitude of boobies and great gobs of softcore sex. 

The ubiquitious Jack Thompson ("Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence") plays the no-nonsense, ultra-manly "Petersen", who takes no guff and tells people to "get stuffed."  Arthur Dignam of "Dead Kids" (aka "Strange Behavior") co-stars, but it's the welcome sight of a topless young Wendy Hughes who makes this trailer interesting.  Thompson turns up again (and again) in "Libido", which offers the usual sexual situations with a lurid and melodramatic leer. 

Much of this material seems to be the same kind of stuff that turned up as late-night filler on the Playboy Channel in the 80s.  Like most of OZPLOITATION TRAILER EXPLOSION, I'm not sure I'd care to actually sit through some of these films yet their trailers provide non-stop entertainment in handy capsule form.

Moving on to "Horror and Thriller",  we get another staple of Aussie cinema that was either well-done or utterly gosh-awful in seemingly equal measures.  Roo-doo potboilers such as "Outback" and "Night of Fear" appear to represent the latter, while something called "Inn of the Damned" ("in the tradition of Hitchcock!") manages to boast none other than Dame Judith Anderson in what is known as "slumming" with a capital "S." 

Returning to sex-comedy territory is "The Night The Prowler", about a woman named Felicity who turns the tables on her nocturnal rapist and becomes a sex-starved prowler herself. "End Play" mixes two brothers, a secluded country house, and a pretty young hitchhiker to give us something that is, the announcer warns, "terribly, terribly wrong."

Reprenting the best of low-budget Australian horror cinema are the trailers for some familiar faves.  "Patrick" tells of a comatose man who may be causing chaos on a subconscious telekinetic level.  "Thirst" is a story of modern-day vampires, while "Dead Kids" is the richly compelling horror thriller by filmmaker Michael Laughlin which stars Michael Murphy, Louise Fletcher,  Fiona Lewis, Dan Shor,  Marc McClure, and Arthur Dignam. 

Peter Weir's "The Last Wave" stars Richard Chamberlain in a nightmare of supernatural evil.  Sigrid Thornton looks great topless in "Snapshot" while being menaced by Vincent Gill and propositioned by "Thirst" star Chantal Contouri.  "Nightmares" is as lurid a horror-slasher flick as they come.  A personal favorite of mine, "Roadgames" (1981), stars Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis as a truck driver and a hitchhiker on the trail of a highway serial killer. 

Of the three categories featured here, perhaps "Cars and Action" is the one the Australians do best.  Ever since "Mad Max" roared through American drive-ins and cable TVs there's been a string of imitations and outright clones of it and its superior follow-up, "The Road Warrior", which really set the standard for white-line mayhem. 

The same cast members keeping turning up too--not the least of which is probably the busiest man in Oz cinema, Bruce "Gyro Captain" Spence, who seems to be in damn near everything in this collection.  "Mad Max"'s ever-popular "Goose",  Steve Bisley,  heads sci-fi action-thriller "The Chain Reaction", which has its own incredible car chases, crashes, and stunts. 

More automotive vehicles are destroyed and stunt drivers endangered in the hair-raising "Stunt Rock", "Stone" (the guy flying off a cliff on a motorcycle is a stunner), "Fair Game" (another beleaguered woman turns the tables on her antagonists), and the mind-boggling "Midnight Spares" with, you guessed it, Bruce Spence. 

Judging by their trailers, these films are jam-packed with the kind of stuff that makes Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof" look like a fender-bender.  I can only guess at how wide-open the stuntman trade must've been in Australia during that era.  Some of them seem to be risking life and limb with utter abandon. 

Elsewhere, Alan Arkin does a funny turn as a washed-up superhero in "The Return of Captain Invincible."  "Terminator" rip-off "The Time Guardian" stars Dean Stockwell and Carrie Fisher.  Jimmy Wang Yu goes up against erstwhile 007 George Lazenby in "The Man From Hong Kong." 

There are would-be spaghetti westerns such as "Raw Deal" and Dennis Hopper (in a series of horrible fake beards) as "Mad Dog Morgan."  Aerial thriller "Race for the Yankee Zephyr", with Ken Wahl, George Peppard, Lesley Ann Warren, and Donald Pleasence, is directed by David Hemmings ("Thirst") and features some of the most exhilarating helicopter photography I've ever seen. 

"Attack Force Z" is a mercenary shoot-em-up with Mel Gibson, Sam Neill, Olivia Hussey, and John Phillip Law.  Getting short shrift here is Nicole Kidman's teenage debut,  "BMX Bandits", whose brief trailer seems more like a TV spot.  Peter Weir's "The Cars that Ate Paris" (1974) is just as nutty and stunt-packed as it sounds, and yes, Bruce Spence is in it.

Among the other luminaries popping up here and there in this collection are Broderick Crawford, Judy Davis, Robert Powell, Jenny Agutter, Tom Skerritt,  and James Mason, along with frequent Ocker faves such as Frank Thring and Briony Behets. 

The DVD from Intervision Picture Corp. is in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital mono sound.  No subtitles or extras.  The picture quality is about what you'd expect from a bunch of forty-year-old trailers (give or take a decade).  Running time is 165 minutes.  Many more trailers besides those mentioned here are included (65 in all).

If you're not in the mood for a sit-down meal but fancy a snack tray of sex, horror, and violence goodies, then Mama always said you should try OZPLOITATION TRAILER EXPLOSION.  Because even though you never know what you're gonna get, you can be sure it'll be chock full of fine Strine cui-sine.

Buy it at


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