“Not Quite Hollywood The Wild Untold Story of OZploitation”

Print“Not Quite Hollywood” is a high octane, in-depth, “pedal to the metal,” documentary about the poor relatives of the Australian indie-art-house set – the genre films.  In the 1970s Australian art films released in the U.S. had a pedigree of sophistication:  “The Getting of Wisdom,” “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” “My Brilliant Career,” “Breaker Morant.”   Almost forgotten are the Aussie genre films released around the same time to U.S. exploitation houses.  These films lacked the “Made in Australia” imprimatur with subjects ranging from full frontal nudity sex romps to “Urban vulgarity, murder, rape and mayhem,” as actor Stacey Keach describes them.

Aussie genre films actually grew out of the same issues in Australia that, in the late 60s and early 70s, also rocked American culture: feminism, abortion, opposition to war, nuclear disarmament.  The people wanted a change.  Australians no longer wanted to be controlled by a government, which according to one interviewee, had the “most repressive censorship in the world.” As the government became more progressive, along with the times, the “R Certificate” (similar to the MPAA’s “R” rating) came into being, giving a venue to counter culture exploitation filmmakers.  Fake vomit (yes, the film gives the recipe), high speed car chases, crashes, devil worship, explosions, death defying stunts, vampires, monsters, exploding heads and the like figured prominently in these films.

The interview subjects: “Ozploitation” film crew members, producers, directors, writers and actors (including George Lazenby, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dennis Hopper) are still, some thirty years later, emphatically and unapologetically proud of their work and have great stories to tell.  They are still tickled at having tweaked the noses of the conservative “powers that be” at the time.  Actor and writer Barry Humphries (a/k/a Dame Edna) offers the opinion that with more vomit “Picnic at Hanging Rock” “would have been an even greater film.”

“Ozploitation” champions include no less than director Quentin Tarantino whose knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, “Ozploitation” is boundless. At the Sydney premiere of “Kill Bill” Tarantino recalls purposely baiting the audience, comprised of Australia’s film elite, by telling them the film is dedicated to Brian Trenchard-Smith, Australia’s leading producer and director of exploitation and action pictures during the 70s and 80s.

“Not Quite Hollywood” speeds along like a souped up Chevy about to crash through a house and come out the other side.  The documentary is briskly and intelligently edited.  Generous amounts of “Ozploitation” footage are inter-cut with candid, insightful interviews, archival footage, animation, split screens, visual effects and vintage drive-in movie refreshment trailers.

Be warned, this is not a movie for everyone.  However, for those who remember “Ozploitation” and for people like me, who missed out but want to learn, “Not Quite Hollywood” is an encyclopedic, irreverent, well-made, outrageous, “Hell-bound-ride” of a documentary.

“Not Quite Hollywood,” director Mark Hartley, 2009,

Magnolia Films, 100 minutes


About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on July 27, 2009, in Documentary. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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