Wednesday, July 22, 2015

THROWBACK (2013)


THROWBACK (2013) 

Label:
Monster Pictures I MVD Visual
Region Code: 1 NTSC

Rating: Unrated 
Duration: 93 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Travis Bain
Cast: Vernon Wells, Melanie Serafin, Anthony Ring, Shawn Brack

We begin with a funny scene of an Asian immigrant panning for gold in a stream sometime in the early 1800s, the lucky prospector finds a nice nugget of gold in his pan, but no sooner has he found it than a bushranger comes along and swipes it from him at gunpoint. A few moments later the thief has the pilfered nugget taken away from him in a nice Karmic moment by another bushranger, the dreaded ‘Thunderclap Newman’. Unfortunately for all three they are savaged and killed by a fearsome creature which turns out to be a Yowie, the Australian Aboriginal folklore version of Bigfoot , that's right, we have a bonafide Ozploitation version of a Bigfoot movie on our hands.

Moving forward to the modern age and we have a pair of would-be fortune hunters named Jack (Shawn Brack) and Kent (Anthony Ring) in search of the fabled treasure of the aforementioned bushranger, ‘Thunderclap Newman’, in the wilds of Queensland, Australia, which they actually do find. Things quickly turns for the worse when one of the treasure seekers tuns against the other in a moment of murderous greed, but they must also fight for their lives to survive the dreaded mythical Yowie who prowls the valley.

The movie is very low-budget and it shows through in nearly every scene, which is not to say that it is awful, but it's not short on very high-end digital video and if you aren't use to the lo-fi HD aesthetic it might be a bit of a hurdle to overcome. While this may be on the higher-end of dirt cheap it is what it is. It didn't ruin it for me though, thanks in no small part to strong cast of unknowns who deliver some pretty decent dialogue, there's something about the way that Australians deliver their dialogue I just love. Anthony Ring and Shawn Brack have a good rapport with each other and the exchanges ring true enough, though once the betrayal sets in I don't think either show enough malice towards each other considering the life and death nature of the adversaries.  

Along the way they encounter a forest ranger named Rhiannon (Melanie Serafin) and a detective investigating the disappearance of at least nine people in the area, Detective McNab is played by Ozploitation veteran Vernon Welles who you will definitely remember as "Wez" in The Road Warrior, a classic 80s villain. While his cameo is fun it doesn't exactly add a lot to the story. but if I ever make a low-budget movie and I was able to wrangle someone along the lines of Vernon Welles you know I would do it in a heartbeat. Serafin also doesn't add a lot to the story but is decent just the same, not given a lot to do but no harm. At ninety-three minutes this ends up being a bit long in the tooth and would have made a better film eighty-three minute film with better pacing a tighter editing. 

The creature design of the Yowie is honestly pretty rough, a more simian version of Bigfoot that is only glimpsed for the most part, usually obscured by trees and whatnot, and I think that was a wise move on the part of the director. I do love the idea of the Australian Aboriginal folklore version of Bigfoot but I do wish that Bain had had more funds to properly put it onscreen and maybe amp up the gore a bit, this one is very gore-poor and I think some blood and guts would have been welcome.

The  Queensland Tropical Rainforests of Australia look fantastic even with the lower-end digital cinematography, gorgeous green scenery that adds a lot of production value to the movie, the views are fantastic and are captured quite nicely with good framing and shot composition. It's too easy to kick back and knit pick the deficits of the movie, but keep in mind that Director Travis Bain was pretty much a one-man film crew during the production, who wrote, produced, directed, shot and edited the low-budget movie, which is quite an accomplishment. Surprisingly the one thing he did not do was compose the score, while I was watching the movie the score sounded so familiar to me, I kept thinking to myself that someone did a pretty good job of channeling Richard Band (Re-Animator), I was surprised when I peeked at the credits and saw that it was in fact Richard Band, along with Amotz Plessner, who scored the movie, which is very cool. The score combined with the gorgeous Queensland locations adds a lot of production value to this low-budget indie. 

The disc from Monster Pictures is loaded with a wealth of info about the making of the movie, There's over an hour of Behind the Scenes Production Diaries and Video Blogs, a brief deleted scene excised for pacing issues, trailers, a series of radio interviews with the main actors, plus an excerpt Henry Lawson's "The Hairy Man"  read by Vernon Welles. 

Also included are three early short films by Travis Bain which are amusing but not up to par with the main feature, which should not be a surprise. The short film 'Parrot Ice Tours' involves two kids trying to raise money to pay for a window repair, it's fun stuff and the best of the bunch. Considering the low budget nature of the movie you have to admire Monster Pictures for not only distributing it but for jam-packing it with cool bonus content 

Special Features: 
- Alternate Ending (14 Mins)
- Behind the Scenes Production Diaries (45 Mins) 
- Video Blogs (23 Mins)
- Three Short Films from Travis Bain:  Daniel's Jack (6 Minutes), Full Moon, Dirty Laundry (8 Mins), Parrot Ice Tours (5 Mins)
- Deleted Scenes (3 Mins) 
- Trailers (5 Mins)
- Radio Interviews with actors Shawn Black and Anthony Ring (44 Mins) 
- Excerpt of Henry Lawson's "The Hairy Man" read by actor Vernon Welles  (1 Mins) 

Throwback is a fun enough Bigfoot type movie with some good moments of humor but I am sure this would be a difficult watch for general audiences because it is rough around the edges, a bit overlong and the creature design is laughable, but it had a lot of heart and a admirable do-it-yourself spirit that is hard to deny. I am looking forward to what comes next for director Travis Bain, expecting some good stuff will be on the way. 2/5

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