Mark Hartley's new documentary Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! is currently playing in limited release around the country. I caught a press screening a week or so ago, and though it's not the deepest or most thoughtful documentary in the world, it's a lot of fun, and it left me with a long checklist of Australian exploitation movies I wanted to see. However, I was disappointed to find that even in this day and age, more than half of the titles featured in the documentary are not available on DVD in the United States.
Of course, anyone can rent George Miller's Mad Max (1979) and there are a few others, such as BMX BanditsDead-End Drive-In, Howling III: The Marsupials, Long WeekendMad Dog Morgan, Patrick, Treasure of the Yankee Zephyr and Turkey Shoot, though some of the official DVD releases have gone out of print and may be hard to find, and others are of dubious quality. It took me a while, but I finally found Richard Franklin's Road Games (redheaded Nicole Kidman's illustrious debut), (described by Quentin Tarantino as an "undiscovered gem"), (1981), with Jamie Lee Curtis; no one seems to agree on whether there's a space between the two words, and some searches have it one way and not the other.
The one I most wanted to see was Russell Mulcahy's Razorback (1984), which, judging by the clips in the documentary, looks amazing. But it's only available on an old VHS tape and an import DVD. Yes, it's a movie about a giant killer pig, but it looks almost like an Expressionist classic, with all kinds of weird lighting and jagged angles.
Another one that looked good was a horror film called Next of Kin (1982), which Tarantino boldly compares to The Shining (and not to be confused with either Atom Egoyan's 1984 film or Patrick Swayze's 1989 film). I also tried to find Nightmares (1980), but with the same result. And the absurd-sounding, but sexy-looking Snapshot (1978) was apparently once available, but is now out of print.
The Man from Hong Kong (1975) is another one that's DOA on DVD, and it's featured prominently for its brutal on-set stories: George Lazenby being lit on fire, and Jimmy Wang Yu just generally being an all-around horrible human being. Finally, there's the biker film Stone (1974), which is supposed to be as notoriously intense as anything made in America.
It would be fun if some bold distributor finally made these films available, but -- as with all exploitation -- it's probably better to sample and anticipate them than it is to actually experience them. Which is why Not Quite Hollywood is so much fun.