"Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!" may sound like that most dull of documentary genres, the compilation movie. But its content and spirit are anything but, as it takes us on a guided tour through an entire subculture of exploitative films made in Australia during the 1970s and 1980s, including raunchy sex comedies, horror flicks and trashy actioners. Mark Hartley's film is an eye-opener, not only for those who thought the Down Under movie industry amounted to "Crocodile Dundee" but also for the artier crowd that remembers smarter films of the 1970s.
It's a hoot to see excerpts from those outrageous classics, in which a cartoonish bevy of bared breasts, gored heads and dangerous car crashes were required motifs. That kind of exploitation had a level of imagination, endeavor and low-tech derring-do matched only by the Hong Kong cinema of the 1980s. You'll see the extraordinary work of stuntman Grant Page, who thought nothing of setting himself on fire and leaping backward from a seaside cliff. And I won't soon forget the scene from 1987's "Howling III" in which a sort of werewolf-cum-human-baby tears out of a woman's womb, an obvious, satirical reference to the alien-birthing scene in "Alien."
It wasn't just Australians who participated in this nutty movement. Also interviewed are Jamie Lee Curtis and Stacy Keach (co-stars in a 1981 psycho-trucker flick called "Roadgames") and Dennis Hopper, whose real-life personality proved perfect as he starred in the 1976 movie "Mad Dog Morgan." There are interesting moments, too, with alternative cinema's go-to fan boy, Quentin Tarantino, who raves about his love for Australian exploitative movies and notes an interesting reference in his "Kill Bill" films (in which Uma Thurman spits at someone) to the 1978 Aussie cult movie "Patrick."
All in all, this is a celebration of Australian exuberance, a national ethic of adventurousness and enormous charisma.
-- Desson Thomson (Aug. 7, 2009)
Contains graphic nudity, sexuality, violence profanity, gore and drug use.