Wednesday, March 9, 2011

DVD REVIEW: Ozploitation Volume 3 Boxset

OZPLOITATION VOLUME 3 (6-Disc Set)
Umbrella Entertainment / Region 0 PAL

Super-cool Australian label Umbrella Entertainment's third installment of the Ozploitation series is a feast of crazy Australian exploitation. It's chock full of wacky and weird films glorifiying murder, mayhem and sexual depravity as only the Aussie's could muster. The 1970's and 80's were an outstanding period for Australian cinema and seven of the era's finest are well represented here with wonderful presentations and hours of fantastic bonus features. If like me the documentary NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD wetted your appetite for Australian ozploitation these sets are truly essential purchase. I've not seen Vol. 1 and 2 but I know I will be acquiring them shortly because with each successive viewing of Not Quite Hollywood my need to see STONE (1974), TURKEY SHOOT (1982), ROAD GAMES (1981) and RAZORBACK (1984) continues to grow by leaps and bounds. These sets are treasure troves of ozploitation and Umbrella's  repsect for the films and their presentation is quite evident, this is an Australian label that obviously celebrates it's country's colorful cinematic history. Here's what is available on the two previous installments of the series: 

OZPLOITATION VOL. 1 - The Naked Bunyip (1970), Night of Fear/Inn of the Dammed (1972/74), Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972), Harlequin (1980), Road Games (1981)
Turkey Shoot (1982)

OZPLOITATION VOL. 2 - Stone (1974), The True Story of Eskimo Nell (1975), Fantasm/Fantasm Comes Again (1976), Long Weekend (1978), The Chain Reaction (1980), Razorback (1984) 

Anyway, enough with Vol. 1 and 2 here's what goodness awaits you in the 3rd installment of the series....

BARRY MCKENZIE HOLDS HIS OWN (1974)
DURATION: 93 mins
RATING: M
DIRECTOR: CAST: Barry Crocker, Barry Humphries, Donald Pleasance

PLOT: Aunt Edna Everage (Barry Humphries) is returning from London with her hapless loud-mouthed, sex crazed nephew, Barry McKenzie (Barry Crocker), when she is mistaken for the Queen of England by a couple of Eastern European ratbags. She is kidnapped and taken to Transylvanian in a bid to boost their struggling tourist industry. Excitement brews and Fosters flows as Bazza sets out to rescue the Dame-to-be in distress from the clutches of Erich Count Plasma (Donald Pleasence), the sinister head of the Transylvanian Tourist Commission. Can Bazza pull it off?

FILM: Australia had a nearly non-existent film industry prior to the early-70's and when vulgar comedies like the Barry McKenzie series made a splash the culturally elite of Australia were mortified by the exploitation of the unsophisticated ocker image. Obviously bereft of a funny bone these folks don't understand that you gotta be able to laugh at yourself once in awhile and while the elite balked at the outlandish depictions of the Aussie everyman director Bruce Bedeford's sequel to THE ADVENTURES OF BARRY MCKENZIE (1972) reveled in it. Much as with LES PATTERSON SAVES THE WORLD (1987) this sequel to finds the frosty Fosters swilling Barry 'Bazza' McKenzie in France where his Aussie-centric mannerisms offend people of all nationalities and persuasions. This time out McKenzie (Barry Crocker) and his Aunt Edna (Barry Humphries) are in Paris, France on a stop over from London en route to Australia when Barry runs into his sky-pilot twin brother Reverend Kevin McKenzie at a Catholic seminar entitles 'Christ and the Orgasm". The encounter leads to Barry standing in for his brother in front of a Catholic seminar performing a colorful song describing what the term "ratbag" means, it's a very fun musical number. While there Aunt Edna is confused for the Queen of England by henchmen of the Transyvanian Tourist Commissioner, Count Erich Plasma (Donald Pleasance) who has hatched a misguided scheme to boost tourism in his obscure little province by kidnapping the Queen of England. The henchmen grab the old gal and take her to Transylvania where she seems to think she is merely a VIP guest of the Count's leading to some humorous miscommunication between the two. Can Barry McKenzie save her before Count Plasma realizes his error and drains Edna of her precious bodily fluids?

Bazza as played by Crockers is a naive, misguided oaf of a man completely oblivious to his wrong-thinking ways not unlike Jay from Kevin Smith's Clerks films and it's easy to forgive his terrible ways. The twin brother plot line was quite extraneous and added very little aside from a great musical number early on. It was nice to catch Barry Humphries' Dame Edna as well as several character throughout including Senator Douglas Manton whom introduces the film similarly to the Mortimer Young DVD intro of THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998). Pleasance so good in so many films including RAW MEAT (1972) and HALLOWEEN (1978) is just too eccentrically corny as Count Plasma, the character seems beneath him to be honest.

If you're a fan of irreverent comedies there's a lot to like here, some of the gags run on a bit long as there's only so many "poofter" references you can take in one sitting. The physical comedy is entertaining including a great kung fun fighting sequence and a few gross-out scenes, one having Bazza "cry ruth" which is Aussie speak for throwing up aka "chundering" aka "technicolor yawn" from the height of the Eiffel Tower with a great delayed impact that just plasters the Transylvanian agents. The Aussie wordplay is vibrant and wonderful though most of it would be unintelligible if it weren't not for the Bazzaspeak in-film subtitles. For me the oddest and most wonderful scene involves Bazza try to smuggle dozen of cans of Fosters into the country but is caught by airport security who rip off the bullet-belt of ale and throw it to the ground and machine gun the suds into oblivion and the fending off a the Count via a crucifix of Fosters's cans. Not a great comedy but appropriately silly and fun.

DVD: Barry McKenzie Holds His Own comes to us from Umbrella Entertainment as part of the 6-disc OZPLOITATION VOL. 3 set. Presented in "Chunderama" which translates to a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that does not look pristine by any means but is probably better than the film has ever look in previous editions. It's grainy, soft and non-too vibrant but given the age of the film and it's better than you might think. The audio is mono and no subtitles are offered aside from the in-movie subtitles which help translate some of Bazza's more challenging Bazzaisms.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Audio Commentary by actor Barry Crocker - A decent commentary with plenty of anecdotes from the star of the film.
- Barry Humphries Gives Us the Good Oil (24:07) - An interview featurette (filmed in 2003). Humphries gives us the comic strip origins of the McKenzie character as well as a great story about pitching an idea about a 3rd film wherein McKenzie would travel to America. The film never did happen but he recounts how familiar the premise of Crocodile Dundee seemed just a few years later. Humphries is always a great interview, very unapologetic and wry.
- Barry McKenzie: Ogre or Ocke? (50 mins) - an interesting made for Australian TV documentary with film footage, footage of the film's premier, it's censorship and some great interviews with the always enjoyable Barry Humphries and a film critic whom truly seem to despise the film and Humphries inparticular.
- Behind the Scenes Footage (32:17)- very raw BTS b-roll footage.
- Teaser Trailers (3:46) - three teaser trailers featuring either Edna or Bazza introducing the films to theatre goers.
- TV Spots (2:21)

VERDICT: Barry McKenzie Holds His Own (1974) is a bit of a slog at times but is still an amusing ozploitation comedy. The adventures of the uncouth Australian making a spectacle of himself while abroad is a fun time, if extremely uneven. There's an over abundance on insensitive racial humor, gay-bashing and plenty of crudity for the sake of comedy but these characterizations are stereotypes of the perceptions of Australians at the time; crude, smutty people descended from British penal colonies, more so than any true celebration of racism and bigotry. Barry McKenzie Holds His Own will never be mistaken for great cinema but it will most definitely elicit a few chuckles. Not a whole-hearted recommend but I think it's worth a watch with at least 3-4 beers. 2.5 outta

FELICITY (1980)
DURATION: 90 mins
RATING: R
DIRECTOR: John D. Lamond
CAST: Glory Annen, Chris Milne, Joni Flynn, Jody Hansen
TAGLINE: She ain't Mama's little girl no more!

PLOT: Felicity (the gorgeous Glory Annen) is a sheltered teen who surrenders her blossoming body to a world of bold sexual adventure in this homegrown erotic sin-sation from sexy Ozploitation auteur John D. Lamond. From taboo-breaking pleasures at an all-girl Catholic school to wanton delights in the exotic underground of Hong Kong, come join Felicity as she finally liberates her libido in the Far East with the help of Penthouse pet and Bond girl Joni Flynn (Octopussy).Plot: Felicity (the gorgeous Glory Annen) is a sheltered teen who surrenders her blossoming body to a world of bold sexual adventure in this homegrown erotic sin-sation from sexy Ozploitation auteur John D. Lamond. From taboo-breaking pleasures at an all-girl Catholic school to wanton delights in the exotic underground of Hong Kong, come join Felicity as she finally liberates her libido in the Far East with the help of Penthouse pet and Bond girl Joni Flynn (Octopussy).

FILM: My own experiences with the wonders of softcore erotica began and ended with late-night viewings of the Emmanuel films on Cinemax at far too young of an age. When my folks would retire to their room for the evening I would stealthily make my way to the family room where I would stand directly in front of the TV with the volume turned WAY down, obscuring it from view so as if my parents caught me by surprise I could snap the TV off (with my free hand) without them glimpsing what naughty nocturnal activities might have been transpiring. Our home didn't have the premium cable channels but I was somehow able to hear (not clearly see) the adult programming by holding down several buttons on the cable box in tandem. The image would appear a scrambled blur but occasionally would reveal a nipple or some other delicate part of a woman's anatomy. Pathetic, I know, but that's the unstoppable drive of adolescent sexual curiosity for you. Not coincidentally it was around this time that I discovered the answer to Rusty Griswold's question to his cousin Dale in National Lampoon's Vacation (1983), "How do you use a magazine?"....
The softcore-cinema of late-night skinemax came and went during but a brief period of my adolescence. Shortly after I was more enamored with 80's slashers and the supernatural terrors of horror cinema which offered both blood, guts and boobs, the best of both worlds. Sex cinema fell to the wayside for many years until just this past year a blu-ray screener of Radley Metzger's Score (1972) unexpectedly came by the office and what a treat that was. I'd nearly forgotten how fun and sexy these late-70's films were. Erotic cinema like Score offered stylish adult fare that wasn't out and out sleazy like cheaply made pornography. Likewise there's Felicity (1979) directed by Aussie sexploitation pioneer John D. Lamond whom began his film career with a pair of fun shockumentaries The ABC of Sex and Love: Australia Style (1977) and Australia After Dark (1975). His approach to erotica comes from a place of humor, sensuality and sexiness - not just hardcore fucking for the sake of gratification, which has it's place but this is something more all together.

The film tells the tale of the gorgeous young woman named Felicity (Glory Annen) who's coming of age in a private Catholic school where she's been quietly developing a strong sexual curiosity and has on occasion acted on these curiosities with her equally libidinous roommate. When school let's out for Summer break Felicity heads to Hong Kong where she stays with family friends. It's here that she meets a beautiful local girl named Me Ling (Joni Flynn, Octopussy) and begins to explore her overflowing sexual curiosity with numerous partners until she meets a fun photographer named Miles (Christopher Milne, Thirst). The film is equal parts erotic fairytale, Orient travelogue and a sensual coming of age story and while there's no shortage of pants-tightening titillation it is a surprisingly tender film in it's handling of sexuality and the act of sex. Lamond is a stylish director and the film is beautifully composed, particularly the shots of Hong Kong, good stuff indeed. I enjoyed the fairytale nature of the film which is enhanced not only Annen's classic beauty but by the the accompanying running narration and the loads of sex didn't hurt either. That said, this is not merely a male sex fantasy and is very much geared towards portraying Felicity as a sexually empowered young woman.

DVD: Felicity is featured on the 6-disc Ozploitation Vol. 3 set from Aussie DVD label Umbrella Entertainment. The film is presented in a 16:9 enhanced widescreen transfer with 2.0 English language audio. It's a remarkably good looking print with few blemishes to be seen. The audio while not overly impressive is adequate enough to firmly implant the film's saccharine easy listening theme song "Mama's Little Girl No More" into your skull for weeks. From what I can tell the bonus features replicate Umbrella stand-alone disc minus the original theatrical trailer. It should be noted that this DVD can only be operated on machines capable of playing Region 0 PAL format software.

SPECIAL FEATURES
- Audio commentary with Director John D. Lamond and star Glory Annen. A nice commentary as the two reminisce about their experiences on the set of the film, plenty of interesting factoids. It's a lighthearted commentary and both are in good spirits and fondly recall the film.
- Confessions of an R-Rated Movie Maker (8:10) - an interview with Lamond talking about his film and how they're viewed by the Australian elite.
- Stills and Poster Gallery - a series of 37 behind-the-scenes and promotional still.
- Umbrella Entertainment Trailers: a pleasantly lurid collection of softcore and sex comedy trailers: Laura (2:33), Emmanuel in Bangkok (1:33), Pacific Banana (2.55) and Private Lessons (1:78)

VERDICT: John D. Lamond's Felicity (1979) is a fantastic example of the late-70's erotic cinema exemplified by Justin Jaeckin's Emmanuelle (1974). It's light-hearted, witty and nearly every frame is filled with gorgeous scenery and the perky beauty of star Glory Annen. A high recommend for those exploring sensual cinema. So grab your lady, a mid-range bottle of wine and let the erotic good time roll. Classy though it may be if you're just a lonely guy looking for a good wank spankin' good time it's that, too. 4 outta 5

MAD DOG MORGAN (1976)
DURATION: 98 mins
RATING: M
DIRECTOR: Philippe Moira
CAST: Dennis Hopper, Dennis Gulpilil, Frank Thring, Jack Thompson

PLOT: Set in gold rush-era Victoria, and based on a true story, this violent, rollicking portrayal of infamous Irish outlaw Dan Morgan (a bravura performance from an intense Dennis Hopper Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now) is a classic of Australian 70s cinema renaissance. A prospector who turns to crime and opium after failing at gold mining, Dan Morgan spends six brutal years in prison before terrorising country Victoria with a young Aboriginal, David Gulpilil (Walkabout, The Tracker). Having escaped into NSW, the bushranger and his accomplice easily dodge the police and mercilessly intimidate the wealthy land owners; but wracked by madness and a lust to avenge an earlier attack from an irate squatter, the notorious Mad Dog makes a perilous journey back into Victoria. Combining an all-star Australian cast, including Jack Thompson, Bill Hunter and John Hargreaves, with a brilliant Dennis Hopper who called the role one of his great life experiences - director Philippe Mora (Communion) creates one of the great period action dramas.

FILM: I know fuck all about Australia and it's colorful history other than it was claimed by Britain as a colony in 1770 and primarily settled through penal transportation by which a country transports it criminal populace to another continent. In this instance it's England sending it's outlaws to the continent of Australia. I've supplemented my knowledge of Australia with tidbits I've gleaned from MAD MAX (1979) which led me to the assumption that it was a scorching wasteland populated by roving gangs of biker punk and rape-y men in souped-up muscle car death machines. Obviously my perception of Australia is colored more by the high-octane ozploitation films more so than surreal grandeur of Peter Weir's THE PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK (1975). Mad Dog Morgan is a film that's been on my to-see list for quite some time and was recently further fueled by the NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF OZPLOITATION (2008) documentary, a superbly entertaining doc covering the the madcap ozploitation genre. Having recently acquired OZPLOITATION VOL. 3 6-disc set from Umbrella Entertainment I was pleased to find the film on the set along side another film I've long sought out, the Aussie exploitation shocker PATRICK (1978).

The film tells the true tale of the notorious Irish immigrant Daniel "Mad Dog" Morgan who was a "bushranger" (that's Aussie speak for outlaw) in the mid-1800's whom migrated to Australia during the gold rush. The film is not excessively gruesome by today's standards but one of the earliest scenes features Morgan at an opium den in a Chinese encampment when the place is raided. The attackers kill nearly everyone and burn the village to the ground, the violence is shocking and includes a splattery headshot. Morgan just barely makes it out alive. Shortly thereafter Morgan falls on desperate times and resorts to some clumsy highway robbery ending in him being sentenced to prison where he endures rape and a vicious branding with a hot iron, you know the usual prison stuff. Hopper with a thick Irish brogue pleads for help during the rape and the desperation in his voice made me wince, it's harsh stuff. Released after six years for good behavior he immediately begins his life of crime anew swearing vengeance against the corrupt colonial government. This time he aligns himself with an Aborigine tracker named Billy played by David Gulpilil (Peter Weir's THE LAST WAVE) who saves his life. The relationship between the two is fantastic and their camaraderie is the highlight of the film for me as Billy nurses him to health and helps him build his strength back up. The two outlaws become the torment of the wealthy landowners and are seen as Robin Hood type figures by the locals and quickly draw a bounty on their heads leading to Morgan shooting and killing two officers of the law in pursuit of him.

Morgan's anti-hero status in Australia seems a natural fit for Hopper who at the time was a bit of a loose-nut in Hollywood himself during what is known as his "lost years". Crazy though Morgan may be Hopper portrays the Irishman as fair and just in his own way , sympathetic and haunted by personal demons and insanity. This may be my favorite performance from Hopper, it's right up there with Frank Booth from BLUE VELVET (1986). The film is definitely pushing the sympathetic anti-hero status of the outlaw. The narrative style is a fragmentary assembly of highlights from Morgan's life, it doesn't flow well to be honest, but the episodic nature of the film paints an overall portrait that works and the ending of the film packs a powerful wallop as Morgan is gunned down thus cementing his legendary folkloric status. One of the last lines of the film comes from Superintendent Cobahn played by the venerable Frank Thring (MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME) who says to the mortician as Morgan lays there on a slab "By all means, off with his head... and don't forget the scrotum" which he has claimed for his own tobacco pouch. Thring is perfectly cast as the sleazy as the epitome of British colonial rule.

The film is visually striking and Australia's natural beauty is on full display throughout. Great locations and set-pieces keep you in the period from start to finish. Mora's documentarian background helps maintain a stark realism to the film with the exception of a surreal nightmare sequence that's brief but fantastic. The film is just immensely watchable and deserves a wider audience. It shares a lot in common with American western films; the anti-hero aspect, the rugged setting, indigenous people and the gold rush. I think Mora really gives us a what if Peckinpah made an Australian western here and Hopper's performance is outstanding.

DVD: Mad Dog Morgan is presented in a 16:9 2.35:1 aspect ratio with 2.0 Dolby Digital audio. The transfer comes from a restored print from National Film and Sound Archive and Mike Molloy's cinematography looks great, the black levels are nice and deep and the Australian panoramas are exquisite. The stereo audio is adequate and the filmscore and dialogue were crisp and clear. To my knowledge the only Region 1 edition was a Troma release that was cropped and cut so I'm pleased to have this Region 0 PAL Director's Cut from Umbrella Entertainment. Aside from a great audio and visual presentation this edition is loaded with bonus content and is a true treasure for fans of Hopper, Mora or ozploitation in general, great stuff. .

SPECIAL FEATURES
- To Shoot a Mad Dog: Making of Mad Dog Morgan documentary (23:37) - a behind-the-scenes look at the film narrated by Mora with on-set interviews with Hopper and some great footage of legendary Aussie stuntman Grant Page shooting the "man-on-fire" stunt that appears in a hallucinatory dream sequence in the film. There are several times during the featurette that you bare witness to Hopper's eccentric behavior.
- Dennis Hopper interviewed by Philippe Mora (27:48) - a 2008 sit down interview with Hopper and Mora who seem to not have seen each other since the filming. It's great to see the late hopper looking back at the film as the two reminisce.
- Audio Commentary by Director Philippe Mora (98:44) - a great commentary from Mora who delivers a ton of colorful anecdotes throughout plus his experiences working with notoriously difficult Dennis Hopper
- Radio Interview from 1976. Philippe Mora talks about Mad Dog Morgan (14:23)
- Mad Dog Morgan script PDF
- Mad Dog Morgan programme - PDF
- Stills Gallery (63 images)
- Mad Dog Morgan Film Excerpts x 16 (7:35)
- Umbrella Entertainment Trailers: Picnic at Hanging Rock (4:42), The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (2:25). Robbery Under Arms (1:32) and Jessica (2:38)

VERDICT: Mad Dog Morgan is a stirring watch. Hopper's performance is a touching, often brutal, portrait of a disturbed man pushed to his limits and it's a gritty piece of Australian western cinema. On top of that the the film is ideally presented with great picture quality and a wealth of bonus content. Highly recommended. 4 outta 5
PATRICK (1978)
DURATION: 108 Min.
RATING: M
DIRECTOR: Richard Franklin
CAST: Susan Penhaligan, Robert Helpmann
TAGLINE: He's In a Coma... Yet He Can Kill

PLOT: In room 15 of the mysterious Roget clinic lies a young comatose murderer named PATRICK. His doctor thinks he's nothing more than 170 pounds of limp meat hanging off a comatose brain, but a young nurse, Kathy (Susan Penhaligon from THE UNCANNY), knows very differently. Patrick has burgeoning psychic powers and a crush on Kathy - and his affection is about to turn into a deadly and bloody obsession!

FILM: PATRICK (1978) comes to us by way of Aussie director Richard Franklin whom is noted for several films; the slasher ROAD GAMES (1981) starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Stacey Keach, one of the more Hitchcockian Psycho sequels PSYCHO II (1983) and a film near and dear to my heart - CLOAK AND DAGGER (1984) starring Dabney Coleman which I caught a screening of at the Willard Psychiatric Center in Willard NY when I was 13 years of age. Before your imagination runs wild dear reader you should know that I wasn't committed to the institution but my father worked there and was privy to the fact that the institution screened 35mm prints of films for the patients once a month in a great old auditorium and somehow a few of us neighborhood kids were allowed inside to watch while seated quite literally next to the clinically insane. I saw a ton of great stuff there and a lot of it I wouldn't consider appropriate for the venue but whatever. On yet another aside the book 'The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic' is a great read and tells the haunting stories of several patients whom lived and died at the Willard Psychiatric Center in Willard, New York. It's a poignant and slightly disturbing read about the perceptions and treatment of those who may or may not have been afflicted with mental illness. On a lighter note, the show Ghost Hunters also recorded an episode at the institution. Here's are a smattering of films I recall watching at the venue: GREYSTOKE THE LEGEND OF TARZAN (1984), FOUL PLAY (1978), SPIES LIKE US (1985), GANDHI (1982), 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), GOONIES (1985), KING KONG LIVES (1986) and many others I seem to have forgotten. It's a matter of some debate but I swear I saw ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOOS NEST (1975) there but that can't be, can it? I would love to find out who programmed that theatre. What a weird venue for film but I can trace my love for cinema to that nutty place during a special time in my life.

Well, the long and short of it is that it's appropriate that I discovered the films of Richard Franklin through a viewing of CLOAK AND DAGGER (1984) at a psychiatric center when the film PATRICK (1978) takes place at the Roget Clinic which a bit of convalescent nut house. At the start of the film Patrick (Robert Thompson) is forced to endure the sounds of his mother and her lover as they have a bit of nasty fun in the tub. This is just too much for the disturbed young man to bare and he interrupts their frolicking by tossing a space heater into the tub which lands squarely on his mother's back searing her flesh like a steak on the grill, sizzle sizzle. While gruesome this was not the intended outcome. When her lover tosses the heater out of the tub Patrick throws it in again electrocuting both with nary any sign of emotion on his face. Now it's three years later Patrick is at the Roget Clinic in a vegetative state. It's not quite clear why but perhaps psychological trauma from the event. The clinic is staffed by the cantankerous physician Dr. Roget (Robert Helpmann) and the creepy Matron Cassiday (Julia Blake) who have just hired a new nurse named Kathy Jacqaurd (Susan Penhaligon) who's new in town and recently separated from her husband Ed (Rod Mullinar). She's been assigned to room 15 where the coma stricken Patrick is sustained by life support. Right away she is struck by the fact that Patrick's eyes are wide open, they stare intensely off into the distance and it's pretty unnerving stuff. He also reflexively spits on occasion (which I think Tarantino homages in KILL BILL VOL. 1. As she goes about her routine bathing and caring for him she comes to realize that he is somehow aware and quickly things get weird from there beginning with him being able to pass her alarming notes through the typewriter. Not only has Patrick developed a crush on the attentive nurse but when the hunky Dr. Wright (Bruce Berry) hits on her at a party he is nearly drowned by an invisible force, Patrick is using newly developed psychokinetic powers to ward off any would be suitors. Angered by her interactions with other men Patrick trashes her small apartment which she blames on her estranged husband. Eventually Kathy comes to realize that Patrick is somehow manipulating her and influencing those she cares for building to a final shocking psychokinesis fueled crescendo.

One of PATRICK's best qualities is the tense and atmospheric pace but I fear it may be too slow for younger or impatient audiences. The dialogue is well-written, the acting is great and there's no denying that director Richard Franklin is a true Hitchcock devotee with some great homages throughout. Even the late composer Brain May's score recalls Bernard Herman's iconic themes. The film's special effects are pretty minimal to be sure, there are only 3 moments of minimal grue throughout the film. It is a credit to the direction of Richard Franklin that PATRICK is an effective a shocker given the limiting nature of the film's comatose protagonist.

DVD: The film is presented in a 16x9 enhanced 1.85:1 aspect ratio transfer with English 2.0 Mono audio. No subtitle options are provided. There's a good amount of grain present stemming from inferior film stock from what I've read but not distractingly so. The image is soft and lacks detail but looks quite good nonetheless. A very fine disc indeed, and this is just one of 6 films on the OZploitation Vol. 3 set. Things I would have liked to seen on this disc are the making of featurette from the Patrick: Ultimate OZploitation Edition and I think the filmscore used in the Italian market by frequent Dario Argento collaborators Goblin would have made a fantastic alternate audio option. Legend tells of the original cut of the film being a whopping 140 minutes. Perhaps someday someone will find the missing 32 minutes of film and a truly special edition will emerge. That would truly be the METROPOLIS of OZploitation films.

SPECIAL FEATURES
- A Coffee Break with Antony I. Ginnane (15:55) - a 2008 interview with producer Antony L. Ginnane who relates several colorful recollections of the film and Franklin.
- Archival on-set interview with Richard Franklin (7:27)
- Audio commentary with Director Richard Franklin - an interesting anecdotal commentary with Frankin filled with references to Hitchcock
- Excerpt from dubbed US version (3:29)
- The Man Who Wasn't There: Story outline for the unproduced PATRICK sequel (PDF)
- Original Australian Trailer (2:57)
- US trailer (1:38)
- Stills and poster gallery
- Antony I. Ginnane Trailer Reel: Snapshot (2:11) 16:9, Thirst (1:37), Harlequin (2:43) 16:9, The Survivor (2:50) , Turkey Shoot (2:40) 16:9, The Time Guardian (1:29)
- More Umbrella Ozploitation Trailers: Road Games (2:12) 16x9, Long Weekend (2:02) 16:9, Razorback (2:21) 16:9, The Chain Reaction 3:23) 16:9

VERDICT: Richard Franklin's PATRICK (1978) is a high recommend from me. This Aussie exploitation gem is deliberately paced, well-acted and truly wonderful. The concept sounds limiting but trust me on this it's a great watch. While this 6-disc set is an Australian exclusive it should be noted that the discs are region free and playable worldwide, so dig in!
3.5 outta 5

AUSTRALIA AFTER DARK (1975)
DURATION:  83 mins
RATING: R
DIRECTOR: John D. Lamond
TAGLINE: Behind the bright lights and the strip clubs is a very different Australia!


PLOT: At Last! The Australia you've always wanted to see - but until now have never DARED! Umbrella Entertainment invites you to taste a cocktail of erotic and exotic Aussie happenings in this kinky collection of 37 unusual and titillating stories. You ll encounter sexy witchcraft, black magic, body painting, sadistic sex rites, mud freaking and famed bondage queen Madam Lash. It's all here... the beautiful, the unusual, the gorgeous, the super and the supernatural. Australia in the raw!


FILM: This behind the scenes documentary of the Sydney Australia night life is quite sensational and I truly don't believe half of it is true but what a place if it's true, sign me up and I'll be there momentarily. Staged or otherwise we are treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the tawdry world of orgies, sexual deviation of every sort and to top it off we have some satanic cult rituals thrown in. This has a little bit of everything and is a breezy watch. If films like the Barry McKenzie mortifies the culturally elite of Australia with it beer swilling; portrayal of the ocke bloke then this semi-lurid depiction of Sydney nightlife after hours must have been quite a hair raising ordeal.


DVD: The film is presented in non-anamorphic widescreen with a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo soundtrack. The transfer is pretty grainy and marked with print damage but a sordid film like this doesn't falter any for it.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
-   Confessions of a R Rated Movie Maker (8:09) - an interview with Lamond talking about his film and how they're viewed by the Australian elite. The same featurette is also featured on the Felicity disc in this set.
-  Stills and Poster Gallery
- Umbrella Entertainment Trailers: Felicity (3:36), Pacific Banana (2:49), Fantasm (2:26), The True Story of Eskimo Nell (3:02)

VERDICT:  If my 13 year old self had seen this it would've made a lasting impression for better or worse. Now it's not so shocking but it is most definitely very entertaining. I love these 1970's era documentary style peeks at the forbidden taboos of the era, the styles and the perceptions of sex. A fun watch.  3 outta 5

ABC OF LOVE AND SEX - AUSTRALIA STYLE! (1977)
DURATION:83 mins
RATING: R
DIRECTOR: John D. Lamond

PLOT: A witty look between the sheets at modern sex and love - 1978 style! Take a sin-sational journey through the sexual alphabet, penetrating the A to Z of Oz naughtiness - including bondage, discipline, lesbian love making, orgasms, orgies, spanking and countless other erotic delights! Packed full of fun facts, helpful hints and an endless parade of cheeky Aussie spunks in the buff. THE ABC OF LOVE AND SEX - AUSTRALIA STYLE is not only the ultimate guide to getting it up down under - it's also the holy grail of true-blue retro skinema!

FILM: The ABC of Love and Sex - Australia Style! is a documentary style sexual education film of sorts that uses the letters of the alphabet to introduce sexual topics from A to Z in an "O" is for orgasm kind of way. It's bookended by some fun claymation of a sex ed teacher and his class.  This  comes to us from the mind of Australian soft-core pioneer John D. Lamond who also brought us the classic erotic fairytale  FELICITY. The film throws out some generic factoids about each subject but the film really just serves as a titillating softcore film with a novel premise and humorous approach. It's fun and guilt-free watch, the perversions and taboos are here for you to watch in all their erotic and campy glory but it's not raunchy, it promotes sex and love in the best possible way. Also fun are all the 1970's styles  on display as well as some great 70's era bush, you know what I mean. I didn't see one landing-strip throughout the entire film, this was the real deal.

DVD: The film is presented in 16:9 enhanced 1.851 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio. It looks fairly good, sure it's a soft image and there's some print damage throughout with a fair amount of grain but it gives the film a bit of a raunchy grindhouse, perfectly appropriate for the film in my opinion.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Stills and Poster Gallery- a collection of 93 posters and behind-the-scenes pics
- Theatrical Trailer (2:43)

VERDICT: The films of Australian sexploitation pioneer John D. Lamond are fun and kinky tales of erotic debauchery that'll warm you up on a chilly night. If softcore titillation is what you desire this is a definite good time.  3 outta 5


LES PATTERSON SAVES THE WORLD (1987)
DURATION: 91 mins
RATING: M
DIRECTOR: George Miller
CAST: Barry Humphries, Graham Kennedy, Pamela Stephenson, Joan Rivers

PLOT: The one-time Australian Minster for the Yarts, Sir Leslie Colin Patterson KBE (Barry Humphries), is a lecherous, drunken, chain-smoking slob and vaunted cultural attache. Now, Sir Les has received a promotion, as Australia's ambassador to the United Nations, and is sent to an oil-rich Gulf state to try to make peace after a UN blunder. Embracing his diplomatic duties with devil-may-care aplomb, Les escapes a firing squad before discovering a diabolical plan to hold the world to biological ransom. Meanwhile, undercover CIA agent Dame Edna Everage arrives on a "Possums For Peace' tour and sets out with the Aussie ambassador extraordinaire to save the world!

FILM: Les Patterson Saves the World (1987) is a farcical political/spy satire featuring Australian funnyman Barry Humphries as the drunken and lecherous Sir Leslie Patterson, Australia’s Ambassador to the United Nations. The story begins as Les is addressing the U.N. and accidentally sets fire to the leader of Middle Eastern country of AbuNeveah when his alcohol-fueled flatulence is inadvertently ignited by a cigar - so yeah, that's what your in for here folks, don't expect high art just a few good belly laughs and a snicker or two here and again. Seen as an embarrassment to his county Sir Les is sent to AbuNeveah by the Aussie Prime Minister to smooth things over with the vengeful dictator fully realizing Sir Les will most probably be executed in short order upon stepping foot in the country. Les arrives just as a military coup puts Colonel Richard Godowni (Thaao Penghlis) into power who along with French scientist named Dr. Herpes are plotting to spread a viral plague called H.E.L.P. throughout the Western world through the distribution of infected toilet seats. H.E.L.P. is a nasty bit of biological warfare which inflicts it's victim with near instantaneous green puss-filled sores leading to a painful and oozing demise. Les quite obliviously to this fact stumbles upon the plot and with the assistance of the pink-haired undercover C.I.A. super-spy Dame Edna Everage (also played by Humphries) set out to thwart the diabolical plan. The Russians also figure into the equation as this is an 80's political comedy - gotta have some interference from the Soviet Union, right? And the icing on the cake in a brief yet over-the-top performance from comedian Joan Rivers as the American President. Truly some wacky goings-on here. The story arc of the film doesn't hold together but the film still manages to come off as an absurd 80's comedy packed with an unending parade of bawdy humor and sexual innuendo, completely in bad taste and good silly fun if a bit uneven. Humphries as the witty and crass Australian politico is a sight to behold. Mixed-in with the madcap shenanigans are some great gross-out gags involving the H.E.L.P. virus which are pretty decent for a mid-80's comedy.

DVD: Les Patterson Saves the World (1987) comes to us in a 16:9 enhanced original 2.35:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio and armed with a generous amount of supplemental material. The disc appears to mirror the bonus features from Umbrella Entertainment's single disc edition.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Reflections on My Attempt to Save the World - Interview with Barry Humphries (23:24) - a lengthy and informative interview with Humphries who seems a bit embarrassed by the film. He attempts to dissuade us that the virus in the film is meant in anyway to the allude to AIDS epidemics that was ravaging Australia at the time but it's a weak argument.
- Radio Interview with Barry Humphries with George Moore
- Radio Advertisements
- Alternate Ending (1:51)
- Stills Gallery (52 Images)
- PDF of Feature Film Script
- Umbrella Entertainment Trailer: Barry McKenzie Hold His Own 16:9 (1:17), The Adventures of Barry McKenzie 16:9 (2:19), The Naked Bunyip 16:9 (1:10), The Great MacCarthy 16:9 (3:40)

VERDICT: Les Patterson Saves the World (1987) is an irreverent 80's comedy that will most definitely appeal to fans of AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY (1997) which would seem to owe a debt of gratitude towards the Aussie comedy by my reckoning. Not a great film by any means but definitely a good time in the tradition of other nutty yet imperfect 80's comedy gems like SPIES LIKE US (1985) and WEIRD SCIENCE (1985). Politically incorrect comedies like this just aren't being made today so be glad be have boozy bloke Sir Leslie Patterson to see us through these PC times - NO WORRIES! 
3.5 outta 5

Not a stinker in the bunch. BUY! BUY! BUY!

4 comments:

  1. Night of Fear is a neat little horror flick. Virtually dialogue-free. And Harlequin is an interesting movie, kind of a combination of political thriller and supernatural thriller. So volume 1 would certainly be worth grabbing.

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  2. Thank for the feedback dforDoom! I'll definitely check out that film. I enjoy the oddball Aussie comedies but I really wanna dig in more to the gorror and exploitation stuff on these sets.

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  3. great bunch of movies in these sets. I really want to see more movies by Brian Trenchard Smith . . .

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  4. Grey, this is a pretty fantastic set. MAD DOG MORGAN and PATRICK are essential views IMO. The other 2 sets look mighty fine as well, perhaps more so with great Australian titles Night of Fear/Inn of the Dammed, Harlequin (1980), Road Games (1981), Turkey Shoot (1982, Stone (1974), Fantasm/Fantasm Comes Again (1976), Long Weekend (1978), The Chain Reaction (1980)and the Razorback (1984). I'm a bit behind in Brian Trenchard-Smith films myself. Just recently watched Dead End Drive-In and BMX Bandits, good stuff and I look fwd to checking moree of his stuff out very soon. BTW, loved the Night of the Demons reviews on the last Dark Hours Podcast, still one of my favorite casts out there.

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