Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! is music promo director Mark Hartley’s affectionate no-holds-barred-pedal-to-the-metal salute to Ozploitation cinema, charting its rise in the late 60s, fall in the late 80s, and recent resurgence with the likes of Wolf Creek (2005). It rounds up an impressive roll-call of talking heads from the scene, who, in true Aussie style, are refreshingly blunt about their experiences and each other, intercutting them with a generous helping of clips from the films. It’s great fun: Hartley seems to be terrified of boring his audience and packs out his 102 minutes with insane stunts, montages of naked Sheilas, automotive carnage and explosions, and countless outrageous stories, all edited to a zippy sprint. The archive footage of Dennis Hopper scrambling for his life from his burning stunt double would justify your time and money on its own.
The film is divided into three sections, sex, horror and action, and the movies can also usefully be divided into three types: familiar late night/video library classics (The Long Weekend, 1978, Patrick, 1978, Turkey Shoot, 1982, Road Games, 1981, and of course Mad Max, 1979); films that you can safely avoid (Oz sex comedies of the 70s look just as toe-curlingly god-awful as British sex comedies of the 70s, which is some kind of achievement); and – this is where Not Quite Hollywood really scores – the numerous neglected, lost and largely forgotten films which the documentary makes you desperately want to see. As well as having a high population density of insane stuntmen, the country was also clearly never lacking in spectacular outback scenery or 70mm lenses to shoot it with, and from the clips included here alone, the likes of Fair Game and Dead End Drive-In (both 1986) all look glorious.
If I must quibble, I’d say that the pacy style of the film excludes any real discussion of the social context, aesthetics or especially the grisly sexual politics of Ozploitation cinema; which is sorely needed, especially when the inevitable Quentin Tarantino keeps popping up enthusing about one woman-bashing scene after another. Hartley’s default setting is breathless, shameless celebration over analysis, and Not Quite Hollywood often seems to actively avoid deciding whether the films are actually any damn good or not (though I think it’s a pretty safe bet that 1987’s Howling 3: The Marsupials sucks koala cock). Apparently, the director has launched his own line of Ozploitation DVDs, so any viewers wishing to familiarise themselves with some authentic Australian sleaze will soon be able to judge for themselves. Happy hunting.
Not Quite Hollywood and Turkey Shoot are screening on Saturday 7 March at the Prince Charles Cinema in London as part of FrightFest Spring Awakening Day. More information on the Prince Charles website.