A list of Australian movies/TV movies/mini-series that I have watched.
“ The film that heralded in the New Wave of Australian cinema and was very different from the films that came before it. An early gross out film that still has a few good laughs and a rare lead role from stalwart character actor Bruce Spence. You can see the early remnants of Alvin Purple in this film. ” - johnnymoronic
Two young siblings are stranded in the Australian Outback and are forced to cope on their own. They meet an Australian boy on "walkabout": a ritual separation from his tribe. (100 mins.)
“ Walkabout is a coming of age drama that begins with a father bring his teenage daughter (Jenny Agutter) and his young son to the desert where he promptly attempts to kill them, fails and then kills himself. Leaving the girl and boy to fend for themselves in the desert, they struggle until they meet an aboriginal boy (David Gulpilil) who is in the midst of his 'walkabout', a journey he must take to learn how to fend for himself and become a man. Together, they manage quite well, but over time, the aboriginal boy begins to take a shine to the girl, feelings that are not reciprocated by the girl. So, will the threesome survive?
Not a lot to Walkabout, it is more about emerging emotions, cultures clashing and burgeoning sexuality than a survivalist film, but that's what makes Walkabout a very intriguing film. An excellent film that still holds up extremely well. ” - johnnymoronic
Wake in Fright
After a bad gambling bet, a schoolteacher is marooned in a town full of crazy, drunk, violent men who threaten to make him just as crazy, drunk, and violent. (108 mins.)
“ Wake in Fright is a UK/Australian co-production that follows English teacher John Grant (Gary Bond), who has finished the term in the middle of nowhere and is now heading to Sydney to meet up with his girl. When Grant gets to the 'Yabba, a mining town full of men, he stays the night before getting a plane to Sydney the next day. Big mistake. He stops in for a drink at a pub and meets up with Jock (Chips Rafferty in his last film), the local cop and he shows Grant the local traps including the game of 2-up. Grant is reluctant to join in on the town's frivolity, in fact deriding it to local doctor (Donald Pleasence, pure gold). The Doc's response is to just accept it and enjoy it. So, Grant joins in the game of 2-up and wins big, but like all greedy gamblers, he goes for one more big win, selling his plane ticket to put more money in, and of course, he loses it all and is stuck in the 'Yabba. With no money and no access to work, all there is to do is go to the pub and drink and meet up with other men and drink your worries away, cos without money, Grant ain't getting to Sydney and he's stuck in the 'Yabba. It's going to be a long few days.
Sublime, almost lost classic that is a brutally honest portrayal of the Australian way, amplified in mining towns. Wake In Fright holds up as well as Walkabout does, including the shocking kangaroo hunt scene which has to be seen to be believed. Great stuff. Looks amazing on the big screen. ” - johnnymoronic
The Adventures of Barry McKenzie
Young Australian, Barry McKenzie, travels to England with his Aunt Edna after his father dies and a request is revealed in his will. (114 mins.)
“ The Adventures of Barry McKenzie is an ocker comedy about the Aussie who everyone in Australia knows, Barry McKenzie (Barry Crocker). When Barry's father dies, his father leaves him $2000 on the condition that he spend it in England spreading his unique Aussie way. Joined by his aunty Edna Everage (Barry Humphries, who else...), he reluctantly leaves and finds himself getting fleeced by the locals as well as confiscating the precious Foster's Lager. Once in England, he meets up with his friend Curly who introduces him to the Aussie sites in London. In a pub, he is asked to act in an ad for a pervy ad director, but when he falls for his co-star (Maria O'Brien), the ad director stops him from congress, much to Barry's chagrin. Barry and Edna meet up with old friends the Gorts, a typically British family with an ugly duckling daughter they want Barry to marry, but Barry manages to escape only to be taken in by jaded hippie folk singers who use him to make it big. It turns out Barry's a hit singing one of Curly's anti-Pommie poems. But in the commotion to get his services, he is knocked out and taken to hospital where a dodgy psychiatrist (Barry Humphries, again) declares him insane because of his ocker speak. Again he escapes. His aunty then takes Barry to meet an old Aussie friend Lesley, a lesbian who has an ex-husband (Peter Cook) who is a producer of a late night BBC show and wants Barry to spread his infectious behaviour, with disastrous results.
Yeah, some of the comedy has dated in our PC environment, but gross-out comedy never dates and the first Barry McKenzie film is still a pretty funny film. And let's face it, it's such an Aussie film that it might just be unwatchable to anyone outside of Australia, even the English (a thing that is ridiculously compensated for in the follow up). And boy do the Poms cop it. The only thing there is more of is Foster's. A fun film that is a nostalgic reminder of that continuing rivalry between Australian and the old Country. ” - johnnymoronic
Night of Fear
(1972) Norman Yemm, Carla Hoogeveen, Mike Dorsey, Briony Behets. This is one creepy, nail-biting film. A young woman becomes lost in the woods after her horse runs off. (54 mins.)
“ Night of Fear is a 50 minute stalker thriller feature made in 1972 from the same team as Inn of the Damned where a young woman (Carla Hoogeveen, also in Inn of the Damned) goes off to have some tennis and a liaison with a married man. She is also a reckless driver and on her way back to Sydney, she narrowly avoids hitting a truck, only to run off the road and into a dead end (which she does not know). She follows it until she drives into a hidden ditch. This awakens a hillbilly type (Norman Yemm) who just happens to be a man who likes to do bad things to women, usually involving rats. The young woman is now lost in the middle of nowhere with a drooling maniac after her. Here's hoping she gets out alive...
Feeling more like an experimental movie with a multitude of editing and sound production, Night of Fear feels extremely dated but highly ambitious and technically proficient pointing to director Terry Bourke's hands on approach. The acting though is overly dramatic and seriously off-putting and while it may have worked back in the 70s, feels way too much now. But, like Inn of the Damned, Night of Fear isn't without it's charms, but again, it's close but no cigar. ” - johnnymoronic
The Sex Therapist
Australian waterbed salesman Alvin Sees a psychiatrist about his irresistibilty to women (95 mins.)
“ Breakout film from the director of Stork, a fun but now quite questionable sex comedy about an average looking man who is irresistible to all women, but only wants one girl. Meanwhile, an incredibly sleazy psychiatrist uses him to seduce frigid women so he can film it and sell it to stag parties. Some of the content is troubling now, but it's still a very fun film with Graham Blundell's in his iconic role. Stacks of 70s nudity too. ” - johnnymoronic
Explores adultery and jealous fantasies, the end of innocence, the moral and spiritual conflicts of a priest and a nun in love. The stories define the exploration of women and the cultural upheaval of the early 70s. (117 mins.)
“ Libido is a portmanteau film consisting of 4 short stories revolving around the erotic feelings of certain people in very different situations. The Husband is about an ultra-jealous husband who allows his wife and mother of his two children (Elke Neidhart) to have her own life, but has secret fears that she is off with other men. His fears seems unfounded or are they? The Child, directed by Alvin Purple director Tim Burstall, is about a young boy who becomes infatuated by his new nanny (Judy Morris), but things sour dramatically when she falls for a man and ends in tragedy. The Priest, directed by Fred Schepisi, is about a Catholic priest who falls madly in love with a nun (Robyn Nevin), but does she return the love. Finally, The Family Man is about two married men, Ken (Jack Thompson) and Gerry (Max Gillies), who decide to hook up with some young women while Ken's wife is in hospital after giving birth, but things don't go to plan when they pick up two girls (Debbie Nankervis and Suzanne Brady) from a bar.
Tough to like all four stories as they are all quite wildly different in tone and how they are told. Both The Husband and The Family Man are told in a more contemporary, mainstream way while the other two stories are more artfully told. The Priest is almost all narration, which gets a bit monotonous. Personally, I would say my favourite story was The Family Man, mainly for its interesting look at sexual politics in a time of great change for women and because Jack Thompson acting drunk is always fun. ” - johnnymoronic
“ Dreadful and obvious cash in follow up to the successful Alvin Purple. Most of the same cast comes back, some in different roles. Everything seems to be made up on the spot and after beginning in a similar way to the original, the film bizarrely turns into a gangster film. Frank Thring is a rare highlight. ” - johnnymoronic
Barry McKenzie Holds His Own
Barry McKenzie's Aunt Edna is kidnapped by Count Von Plasma, the vampire head of an isolated Eastern... (93 mins.)
“ Barry McKenzie Holds His Own is the follow up to the 1972 original where Barry McKenzie (Barry Crocker) and his aunt Edna Everage (Barry Humphries) are heading over to Paris to visit Barry's identical twin brother Kevin (um, probably Barry Crocker...), a reverend who is doing a talk in Paris. Meanwhile in Transylvania, head vampire Count von Plasma (Donald Pleasence) is wanting some royal blood and accidentally mistakes Edna Everage for the Queen of England and sends two incompetent goons to kidnap her. Finally, they kidnap her and the Australian cultural attaché tells Barry that he is not safe in Paris and that he can hide in England. Except, you now need a work permit to get into England, so Barry is smuggled in by boat. Once in England, he is instantly detained, but escapes to the Australian embassy where they hatch a plan to get Edna back from the Count.
Having a similar nonsensical plot change as the Alvin Purple sequel, this film handles it a lot better though. This film is actually pretty funny, I especially crack up any time the legendary Clive James' piss pot character appears on the screen, always opening a Foster's and then being siphoned for his blood, except it's 100% Foster's. Yeah, it's still very politically incorrect, there's even a black face scene, but once you get over the fact that these were different times, it's a very enjoyable sequel. ” - johnnymoronic
This film traces the career of Dr Edward Trenbow (Corin Redgrave), who becomes a well-respected Sydney psychiatrist... (100 mins.)
“ Between Wars in a drama about an English doctor during World War I, Dr. Edward Trenbow (Corin Redgrave) who is left in charge of a fledgling psychiatric war of a military hospital, even though he knows little about psychiatry (mind you, psychiatry was still very much trial and error at this point of time). After the war, he is brought to a mental hospital and put in charge of the hospital where he meets a German doctor versed in Freud. Dr. Trenbow is then sent to Australia where he continues his work, only to walk away and start up a country practice and something about becoming a communist and I starting to bore myself.
Yeah, I don't have an interest in psychiatry, but apparently neither does Dr. Trenbow. He seems to just float by as if he can't be bothered doing anything else, well until the whole communism thing in the 1930s comes along. He doesn't seem all that interested in defending his actions when charged with malpractice and doesn't seem all that interested in communism, his marriage and why not, life itself. I don't know what going on, but the doctor just seems to do things for something to do, it just bizarre. If only this was meant by the filmmakers, otherwise it would have been a far better film than this dated nonsense is serving up. Ah well, there's, bizarrely, a blow job scene in the film that comes out of nowhere. Hmmpgh, why not..? ” - johnnymoronic
The Cars That Eat People
The small town of Paris, Australia deliberately causes car accidents, then sells/salvages all valuables from the wrecks as a means of economy. (91 mins.)
“ First feature from the great director Peter Weir about a small town that causes fatal car accidents on out-of-towners and then sell the parts and belongings to live on. When one man survives, instead of the usual lobotomy, the mayor of the town takes him under his wing. Meanwhile, the young folk are getting antsy. Interesting film and a sign of better things to come from Weir. ” - johnnymoronic
Tony Petersen, a married electrician and ex-footballer, goes to university to study English. Petersen is odd man out at the uni... (107 mins.)
“ Petersen is a drama about renaissance man Tony Petersen (Jack Thompson), an electrician and former footy star who has taken time out from his job to go to university, all the while encouraged by his doting wife Susie (Jacki Weaver) as she looks after their 2 kids. At university, he is a struggler, but he's doing a good job fitting in, mainly with one of his lecturers, the married Trish (Wendy Hughes), who are having a passionate affair. It seems that Petersen is quite the lady killer, even in front of his wife. He's also a big drinker and a brawler and you know how these go together. As the relationship with Trish develops, things for Petersen get more and more complex until it ends with a burst of extreme violence as he desperately tries to come to terms with his new life.
Wow, Petersen, from the writer of Don's Party and the director of Alvin Purple and Stork (and Attack Force Z, can't forget that little corker), is one hell of a film that is very much of the time, so much so it seems like science fiction. Petersen pretty much has to walk in a room and every woman wants to sleep with him. His wife is one of the most submissive wives I've ever seen in film, she seems unreal. Were/Are woman really that dismissive of themselves? The sexism is a given for a 70s film, but at least it addresses it and then throws it against the wall when Trish calls one character a nymphomaniac even though she is having an affair with Petersen. The violence in the film seems unbelievable, but after thinking about it a little, I don't think it's that far removed for a notorious brawler. The rape scene is very sudden and I can't make up my mind about it's meaning. I'm still struggling to get my head around the film but it has definitely got me thinking. It's a strong and often ugly look at a man trying to find himself, even if it's not a perfect film, it's definitely something. Plus Jack Thompson's drunk acting is a hoot and he's regularly drunk and violent in this film. ” - johnnymoronic
Members of the Grave Diggers Motorcycle Club are being knocked off one by one, and someone needs to find out why! Sandy Harbutt
's timeless Australian cult film about a bunch of renegades riding Kawasaki 900s. (103 mins.)
“ Stone is a bikie cult classic about a cop named Stone (Ken Shorter) who has been asked to find the person who is assassinating bikies. He attempts to join the Gravediggers, run by Undertaker (Sandy Harbutt, also writer/producer/director etc.) and is helped when he saves Undertaker from being assassinated. The gang reluctantly allows the cop to join but they welcome him as he is willing to join in their activities. As Stone goes about looking who is behind the killing, he finds that most people actually welcome the Gravediggers because while they're rowdy, they actually drive business. It turns out that those wanting them dead are not actually the usual enemies of bikies.
It's tough to describe the plot of this film because not a lot actually happens, it's more about the lifestyle and this is usually portrayed in the film with striking images more than plot. Stone is a filthy film, with the biker gang and their girls looking incredibly dirty which definitely adds a layer of authenticity to the film. Other images such as a massive (and quite insane) clifftop dive from a motorcycle, the bikie funeral ride, a bikie race and the brutal final scene are memorable even almost 40 years on. While the film meanders along in no hurry to get to it's destination, it's never boring and is far more intriguing than most biker films even when it delves into gross misogyny and other ugly behaviour. Stone is fascinating film that will be forever memorable. ” - johnnymoronic
“ The Great Macarthy is a Aussie Rules comedy about country football star McCarthy (John Jarratt on debut) who is recruited to play football in the big leagues by the South Melbourne Swans. In the country, he worked in his dad's garage as a mechanic. In the city, he is well looked after, given an office job, which is basically a token position. And he soon becomes the star player at full forward. Then he starts taking night classes and he meets his teacher Miss Russell (Judy Morris), a cultured professional. He falls for her hard, but things don't go as planned and they break up. McCarthy moves on, but she is still in the back of his mind even when he quickly marries Andrea (Kate Fitzpatrick), the ballsy daughter of the club's owner Col Ball-Miller (Barry Humphries, criminally underused). And quickly divorces. McCarthy then loses his love for the game, but who knows, maybe Miss Russell will help him find it.
The Great Macarthy is a bizarre relic that is a rare example of Aussie Rules on the big screen (I think The Club and Australian Rules are the only others). The movie is all over the place. It places itself as a bawdy comedy, but anytime Judy Morris' cultured character is on screen, the film almost turns into an arthouse love story which doesn't fit at all. Most of the comedy is pretty crass and dated, but there's a laugh or two. The footy scenes are a mix of acting and real live action with a lookalike playing McCarthy and the footage is really good, so is the incorporation of the League Teams crew (although Jack Dyer is strangely missing from the film, but appears in the trailer...). Max Gilles plays two different characters who look exactly the same, which is just out and out baffling. Barry Humphries' character probably seemed funnier on paper.
But, there's one thing that amused me unintentionally and that is McCarthy wears the number 39 and plays full forward for the Swans just like a rather flamboyant show-off (who admittedly could play) in the 80s named Warwick Capper, who was the Great McCarthy of his day (as the tag line says, 'He's footy's most forward full forward'). Now, that is a bizarre coincidence. ” - johnnymoronic
Hong Kong Inspector Fang Sing Leng travels to Australia to extradite a drug dealer. When the hood is assassinated on his way to court, everyone suspects Jack Wilton, a crime lord who the local police haven't been able to pick up. (111 mins.)
“ Epic kung fu actioner from genre journeyman Brian Trenchard-Smith bringing out Jimmy Wang Yu to Australia to track down the killer of a Hong Kong drug dealer (a really young Sammo Hung) and he does things his way which is to beat up everyone till it leads to the man he wants (George Lazenby showing some good skills). Insane action, a surprising amount of ball punching and some great scenery round out an superb action thriller. Surprised it's never been remade. 'You, you've blown it all sky high...' ” - johnnymoronic
Inn of the Damned
A sheriff investigates why the guests at a local hostelry check in, but never check out. (118 mins.)
“ Inn of the Damned is a 1975 thriller set in the old West (bafflingly Gippsland in Victoria) where a rundown inn in the middle of nowhere is the site for a string of murders. Caroline (Dame Judith Anderson from Rebecca) and her ever loyal husband Lazar (Joseph Fürst) run the inn where they kill anybody who stays in their establishment which has something to do with their young children dying or something. One day, a trooper (Tony Bonner) stays there and is crushed in the bed by a platform weighed down by heavy rocks that the operated by Lazar. But, this couldn't of happened at a worse time as the place gets busy for the first time ever. First, a couple of noble women with their horseman get caught in a rainstorm and stop off to get out of the rain, then a maverick sheriff (Alex Cord), who has just killed a child killer who was harboured by the inn couple in self-defence, goes looking for the trooper and finds that the inn has much more than meets the eye.
Overlong (pushing two hours) movie that has pretensions to greatness including being heavily inspired by Hitchcock (Psycho particularly), but comes up short mainly thanks to too much going on. That's not to say that there aren't good things in the movie, it is well cast, particularly the inn couple who are very unnerving. The murders are quite nasty and well done and the movie is technically proficient, but it's the story that lets the movie down. It feels like two movies rolled into one, hence the quite long running time. ” - johnnymoronic
A group of Australian heroin addicts go out and try to score a hit after a friend overdoses. (85 mins.)
A good and a bad cop assist a battered wife as she tries to escape her belligerent husband. (93 mins.)
“ Following two cops, Sergeant Dan Simmonds (Peter Cummins), a 30 year veteran and Constable Neville Ross (John Hargreaves), on his first day. Things are slow until Marilyn (Jacki Weaver), with the help of her sister Kate (Kate Fitzpatrick), files a complaint of domestic abuse against her husband Kenny (Martin Harris). After filing the complaint, the sisters come back a hour later to claim that Kenny has struck Marilyn again. The two cops call in a removalist (Chris Haywood), to help get Marilyn's stuff and head over to the house to supervise. But Kenny is completely standoffish, refuting all claims and goading the cops when not accusing his wife of everything under the sun. Then, Sergeant Dan starts laying into Kenny to help him shut up, which only exacerbates things as Kenny starts claiming police brutality. Things get more tense and more violent before the unthinkable happens.
Based on a David Williamson play (wasn't everything in the 70s), The Removalists finds it hard to move away from its stage origins and at times feels very crowded. Even at only 85 minutes, the movie feels long and has scenes that don't feel necessary. And while the movie is fairly watchable, it does become a brutal violent mess where you'd think the cop characters would probably be kicked out of the force for what happens. I get the feeling this is one of Williamson's lesser plays. ” - johnnymoronic
Sydney homicide detective Sergeant Scobie Malone and his offsider investigate the murder of Helga, whose corpse is found in the basement of the Sydney Opera House. (98 mins.)
“ A thriller where playboy cop Scobie Malone (Jack Thompson) is called in to investigate the murder of actress Helga Brand (Judy Morris) at the Sydney Opera House and who Scobie has a brief fling with. As we follow Scobie and his partner Clemens (Shane Porteous) as they investigate, we also see Helga's side of the story, we find out that Helga is really a blackmailer who seduces men of importance, including in this case Walter Helidon (James Condon), a high up politician. Helga asks for $20,000 or their dalliances are made public. But, Helga wants out of the blackmailing business and looks for one big score and when her lover Jack Savanna (Joe Martin) happens across crime kingpin Mr. Sin's (Noel Ferrier) heroin importing operation, they may have their way out. But, Mr. Sin is having none of that.
Surprisingly good little, long forgotten potboiler that's carried by Jack Thompson's usual charm and an against type turn from Judy Morris, who's all types of nasty. Also backed up by a fairly decent supporting cast including a pre-A Country Practice Shane Porteous trying to be hip and some quality tail making Scobie Malone a pretty fun ol' watch.
And if you ever see it, look out for Bryan Brown playing a cop in what looks like his first ever movie, bafflingly listed as Brian Bronn in the credits. ” - johnnymoronic
“ Two travellers form an unlikely bond over Dead Eye Dick's liking of Mexico Pete's orgasm face. And then at the insistence of Dick they travel together far and wide to find the ultimate prostitute Eskimo Nell, who turns out to be someone very different depending of the person. Feeble comedy and a waste of Max Gillies and if that doesn't grab you there's plenty of nudity, including Abigail's first full frontal nude scene as trumpeted loudly at the time. Director Richard Franklin would go onto to much better as a genre director. ” - johnnymoronic
Sydney, Australia in the mid-1920's. Proud and classy Caddie Marsh is forced to get a job as a barmaid... (100 mins.)
Two best friends, Vietnam War veterans turned stunt men, are sent as spies to the Philippines on a top secret mission for the Australian government. (93 mins.)
“ 'Boy's Own' action adventure where two Vietnam war buddies, Steve (John Hargreaves) and Rod (stuntman Grant Page) now run a successful movie stunts business with them as the stars. One day, shady ASIO head Culpepper (Noel Ferrier) spies them performing some spectacular stunts and decides to test their abilities for a super-secret spy mission. With some reservations from his wife Julia (Margaret Gerard, the director's wife), Steve and ladies man Rod take the job. They are to infiltrate a power station which holds the details of a plan by some Filipino crime lord and they are to bring it back to Culpepper.
Second feature movie directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith (The Man From Hong Kong was his first) is a shameless ode to stuntman Grant Page but has the added bonus of a surprisingly well-cast John Hargreaves in a rare action role. Deathcheaters is a movie that is just an excuse for spectacular stunts and with that brief, it more than excels. The movie has some spectacular sights thanks to first-time cinematographer John Seale and features plenty of cameos from BTS regulars. The plot is very thin, but who cares. Apart from some heavy exposition scenes in the middle, Deathcheaters is a whole lotta fun, but if you're looking for more, this isn't the movie for you. ” - johnnymoronic
The Devil's Playground
Fred Schepisi's film, 'The Devil's Playground' is an intimate portrait of Tom, a thirteen-year-old struggling... (107 mins.)
The movie Dons Party is about a wild house party in a suburban Australian neighbourhood. Don Henderson... (90 mins.)
“ Don's Party is a slice of life comedy/drama that focuses on a time when there is key changes in the social structure. Set on the night of the 1969 Australian elections where the Labor Party is tipped to get back into office for the first time since 1949, Don (John Hargreaves) and his wife Kath (Jeanie Drynan) host a party to celebrate a Labor Party victory, inviting his friends who have varying views. Simon (Graeme Blundell) and Jody (Veronica Lang) are fairly conservative and seem out of place at the party. Mal (Ray Barrett) and Jenny (Pat Bishop) are long time friends of Don and Kath with similar views, but their marriage is a little unsteady. Mack's (Graham Kennedy) wife has dumped him and arrived by himself. Evan and Kerry (Candy Raymond) are a couple whose marriage is falling apart and it's going to be a long night for them. Finally, serial womaniser Cooley (Harold Hopkins) has picked up a promiscuous young girl Susan (Clare Binney) and together they are going to set this party alight. Over the night, both political and sexual tensions will hit boiling point, marriages and friendships frayed and things may never be the same again. If only the Labor Party would win the election. (Spoiler: They don't).
It's hard to describe Don's Party without going on and on because there's some much happening. It's a pretty much perfect showcase of a certain time and I say that as someone who has an aversion to writer David Williamson's work (although I seem to have forgotten why). While it is based on a play and is pretty much set just at Don's house, it never feels stagey or restrictive like The Removalists. Director Bruce Beresford has done some great work here. There's so many iconic scenes and while the characters all have their purpose, Cooley is a standout, he's so freaking hilarious. His reaction to finding out the girl he just picked up, Susan, is just 19 is priceless. And he hits on every woman at the party, including Jenny, who he calls a fishwife. It's all gold and I have to say, one the best Australian films ever. ” - johnnymoronic
An old captain & his young wife share a lot of adventures after they're shipwrecked and captured by Aborigines on an island near Australia. (130 mins.)
“ Eliza Fraser is a bawdy period farce set in the early years of Australia where the incompetent captain of the brigantine ship, Captain Fraser (Noel Ferrier) sails his ship to Moreton Bay prison where his 2nd in command Captain Rory McBride (English actor John Castle) disembarks wanting to captain his own ship. McBride is also carrying on an affair with Captain Fraser's wife Eliza (English actress Susannah York). At Moreton Bay prison, now under the command of the sadistic Captain Foster Fyans (the legendary Trevor Howard), always enlists a snitch and a bedboy at every prison he run and the job of bedboy goes to David Bracefell (John Waters), who decides to run off naked instead of sharing the bed with Fyans. He ends up the bed of Eliza, who at first mistakes him for McBride, but instead of turning him, she takes pity on him and helps him escape. The next day, the Frasers leave Moreton Bay and wouldn't you know it, get shipwrecked in the same spot the Captain did 4 years previous. A group of Aborigines take in the Frasers and for a while, they live like Aborigines until an Aboriginal elder decides to marry Eliza and she and the Captain escape, with the help of Bracefell who turns up in the nick of time. Eliza takes a shine to Bracefell and want to escape to New Zealand with him, away from her husband, but there one more thing they hadn't counted on. The return of McBride.
From the people behind Alvin Purple and Petersen, Eliza Fraser is a fun romp, although not really a funny romp. Would have to be one of the first movies to have an extensive look into the lives of Aborigines. Eliza Fraser was a real life person who was notorious for spinning tall tales and this is definitely one tall tale. And there's a requisite nude cameo from Abigail, an oft-used selling point for movies in the 70s. ” - johnnymoronic
“ Interesting two-hander about two brothers who are both suspected of a series of murders of female hitchhikers (we enter with a hitchhiker played by Delvene Delaney been bumped off), even though one is wheelchair bound. Both brothers are weirdos and the alibi involves both using each other in one way or another. Intriguing stuff from the director of Stork and Alvin Purple. ” - johnnymoronic
Mad Dog Morgan
The true story of Irish outlaw Daniel Morgan, who is wanted, dead or alive, in Australia during the 1850s. (102 mins.)
“ Mad Dog Morgan, ah Mad Dog Morgan, is a biographical drama about notorious bushranger Daniel Morgan (Dennis Hopper, yes Dennis Hopper at his most ridiculous best), an Irishman driven to robbing a stagecoach when his luck runs out in the goldfields. He is caught and sent to jail for 12 years where he is subjected to all sorts of horrors. On release, Morgan vows revenge on everyone who wronged him and because he is broke, he might as well robbed some folk as well. When Morgan is shot, he is nursed back to health by an Aborigine named Billy (David Gulpilil from Walkabout), who then joins forces with Morgan to help him escape from the encroaching traps (police), headed by a harsh Superintendent (Frank Thring, in fine form) and lead on the ground by Detective Manwaring (Jack Thompson). As Morgan heads to Victoria, he also seems to be given the support of many people who hate the traps and authority as much as he does.
This, this is a bizarre film and I suppose that is why Troma were involved with it for a while. Dennis Hopper is so over the top (and possibly under the influence) that it's impossible not to shake your head in disbelief. Lots of rambling and incoherent behaviour both on and off the set. And the director Philippe Mora (later of Howling 2 and 3, Communion) seems just as eccentric with some absolutely bizarre stuff going on. I wouldn't say this was a particularly good film, but one you should watch just for the sheer madness of it. And it contains the best final line in cinema history.
And don't forget the scrotum... ” - johnnymoronic
20th Century Oz
Dorothy is a sixteen-year-old groupie riding with a rock band when, suddenly, the van is in a road accident... (103 mins.)
“ 70s rock'n'roll interpretation of The Wizard of Oz (funnily enough not credited as such...) as Dorothy decides to come to Melbourne to see the Wizard, a glam rock star, after she is in a car accident that kills a town bully. Along the way, Dorothy is joined by with a dumb surfer, a rigid mechanic and a cowardly bikie and she is being followed by a psychotic truckie who wants to rape her. Some good moments mixed with the silliness of reinterpreting Oz to 70s Australia. The concert footage featuring The Wizard is superb. ” - johnnymoronic
Storm Boy is a rambunctious Australian youth, living along the coastline with his freewheeling father. At the behest of an aging aborigine, Storm Boy takes care of an uncared-for nest of pelicans. (88 mins.)
A black and white lowlife duo drives around Australia's Outback in a stolen vehicle and finds trouble after trouble. (60 mins.)
Dot and the Kangaroo
A young girl gets lost in the Australian outback and befriends a kangaroo (71 mins.)
The F.J. Holden
Bankstown, NSW, Australia, 1970s. Kevin and his mate Bob spend their time drinking and cruising around... (101 mins.)
“ Teenage boy gets his first car and uses it to cruise for girls. One girl takes a shine to him and they go out for a while, her parents object and then boy blows it during a booze fueled sex act. Boy tries to get her back, but by this stage he has passed to the point of no return and being drunk (again) doesn't help. Interesting slice of life film that feels like Puberty Blues told from the boys perspective. And Frankie J. Holden has an obvious cameo. ” - johnnymoronic
High Rolling in a Hot Corvette
Two fun-loving carnival workers take a vacation with the hope of finding plenty of sex and drugs. Their "quest" is fulfilled when they encounter a dope-peddler and two exotic nightclub dancers. (89 mins.)
“ High Rolling (also known as High Rolling in a Hot Corvette, which is pretty good description of the plot) is a caper comedy about two bounders, an cocksure American cowboy Texas (American actor Joseph Bottoms) and a bare knuckle fighter Albee (Grigor Taylor) who move on for more adventures after Tex is sacked for having sex on the job. They hitch a ride with a rough character (John Clayton) is his green Corvette, but after the rough character comes onto Albee, Albee knocks him out and he and Tex steal his wad of cash and his car which also has a large stash of dope and a gun. So off they drive to the Gold Coast, picking up a teenage hitchhiker Lynn (Judy Davis, on debut), but once they get to the Gold Coast, they are picked for a couple of rubes and cannot pick up any girls. They get some new 'threads' and head to a strip club where they hit on a strip act duo (Wendy Hughes and Sandra McGregor), but Tex is unsuccessful and gets beaten up by a bouncer (Gus Mercurio). While the beaten Tex goes off to lick his wounds, Albee goes off with the girls for a night to remember. All the while, the rough character is tracking them down wanting his stuff back.
Interesting relic that is fun and has an occasional good scene (the bus robbery is pretty funny, the strip performance is surprisingly sexy particularly with Wendy Hughes cast majorly against type), but has also seriously dated and barely gets going before ending, suggesting a serious of adventures were planned.
Judy Davis was a real cutie back in the day, still in NIDA during filming, but I doubt she ever made a movie like this again. I can't think of one. ” - johnnymoronic
Journey Among Women
In colonial Australia, daughter of a judge helps a group of female convicts living in inhuman conditions escape. Aboriginal girl teaches them how to survive in the forest. One of them gets raped and killed. The group seeks revenge. (93 mins.)
The Last Wave
A Sydney lawyer defends five Aborigines in a ritualized taboo murder and in the process learns disturbing things about himself and premonitions. (106 mins.)
The Mango Tree
Jamie is a young man growing up in the small Australian town of Bundaberg during the early 1940's. Jamie loves his tranquil life... (93 mins.)
The Newman Shame
(1978 TV Movie)
Stars "For One Time Only" James Bond George Lazenby as John Brandy, an ex cop who turned in his badge when he inherited money... (93 mins.)
“ A rare foray into Perth for an Australian film where a former cop (George Lazenby) is brought back to investigate the supposed suicide of an old friend, a bank manager who supposedly killed himself to end the shame of being the unwitting star of a homemade porno. But, the porno is obviously faked and there's a conspiracy in the making. With the help of his overexuberant girl, the cop delves into the underworld and is shocked by what he discovers. Good little thriller well played by both Lazenby and Diane Craig as his girlfriend. ” - johnnymoronic
The Picture Show Man
At the beginnings of this centuary a man, his son and a piano player travel around Australia showing... (99 mins.)
“ The Picture Show Man is a light comedy nostalgia piece from 1977 that follows a father and son travelling picture show troupe. Pop (John Meillon) and Larry (Harold Hopkins) travel across the bush showing films to towns that are starved of such things. But, they are struggling and have just lost a piano player in Lou (Garry McDonald), who joins their competition, run by an American called Palmer (Rod Taylor). Pop replaces Lou in the next town with playboy piano player Freddie Graves (John Ewart) and then picks up a new horse, well, a horse that was a champion, but is now struggling. It is not until the horse is embarrassing trounced by a horse ridden by a woman that Pop realises his error. Meanwhile, Larry has a growing need to move on and that's when he meets a woman bathing in a lake, Lucy (Sally Conabere), who was also the woman jockey. He immediately falls for her and then convinces Pop that he could stay with her while Pop goes onto the next town. Pop replaces his son with a travelling gypsy magic act, but that goes wrong when Pop attempts a relationship with the woman of the group. It's clear that Pop is out of his depth, but a change in luck is around the corner.
Set in the times when sound was about to be implemented in movies, this film is a small joy, but at the same time a slight film. While never boring and has some genuinely funny moments, it seems stuck on being a slapstick film, which may have been befitting of the time the film is set, but doesn't quite click in regards to the film. A fun film, but ultimately a forgettable one. And while it's good to see Rod Taylor in an Australian film, he seems wasted in a small role. ” - johnnymoronic
The exploits of four boys who leave Sydney and head out for a weekend of surfing and adventure. Unfortunately the fun takes a serious turn when they find themselves involved in a murder. (90 mins.)
“ Cheapie apocalyptic surfer flick (yes, that's right) about four friends looking for surf and girls. But, when one bloke knocks up a young girl, her father goes berserk and hunts them down. Starring Mel Gibson and Steve Bisley in their first roles (later together in Mad Max), it looks like it was made with loose change and was apparently half finished but is surprisingly well made and intriguing. It's unofficial sequel is that very special beyond awful that could only happen in the 80s, which make you wonder... ” - johnnymoronic
A teacher discovers one of his students has a rare blood disease, and is drawn into a mystery that culminates in a thrilling climax. (95 mins.)
“ Very good moody thriller about a substitute teacher that comes to an island community to teach after the previous teacher mysteriously disappears. He becomes involved in helping a young girl who has a rare disease and then is attracted to her mother. But something is off, particularly with the mother's relationship with her brother. Film takes a while to get going, but when it does, it's very intriguing. Final act is quite shocking even now. ” - johnnymoronic
The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith
The true story of a part aboriginal man who finds the pressure of adapting to white culture intolerable... (120 mins.)
“ The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith is a drama set in the late 1800s that focuses on half caste Aborigine Jimmy Blacksmith (Tommy Lewis) who is brought up by the local reverend (Jack Thompson) in his orphanage. Once he becomes old enough, Jimmy sets off into the world, taking jobs where he can find them, but the racism against Aborigines is shocking and Jimmy has it hard, but fights on nonetheless. After meeting a white woman Gilda Marshall (Angela Punch McGregor) at a new job, he gets her pregnant and is happy to be a father and maybe he might be accepted more by the community. He is for a while, even given land and his own place for he and Gilda, but when his brother and uncles join him on the land, Jimmy's boss sees red and bans Jimmy and Gilda from getting supplies. They also offer Gilda a way out by leaving Jimmy and this sets Jimmy off and after a confrontation with his boss goes wrong, Jimmy goes berserk and with the help of his uncle, he takes revenge on the women of the house, killing 4 and seriously injuring one other. On the run with his brother, Jimmy decides to take revenge on everyone who wronged him to the point where he seems like a 'devil' to his brother. But, the posse are not far behind and are bloodthirsty in their revenge.
Brutally honest look at the life of Jimmie Blacksmith, an Aboriginal man from the late 1800s, who tries to make a go at life including marrying a white woman and caring for her child, but when his bosses family restricts his ability to do things in an attempt to drive him away, he takes revenge by murdering the women of the house. Based on a book by Thomas Kenneally, this is a well made look at a shocking incident and a time when Aborigines were treated like animals. Tough stuff to watch at times. ” - johnnymoronic
The Getting of Wisdom
Oscar-nominated director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy, Tender Mercies) crafts a tender coming-of-age... (101 mins.)
“ Period piece featuring possibly every young teenage actress in Australia at the time. Young girl from the country with exceptional talent is offered scholarship to prestigious girls school, but finds the social politics hard to handle, particularly when they find out her family is poor. Finally, she makes a friend, but loses her just as quickly. Then she concocts a relationship with the handsome young priest that enthralls the others, but when it backfires it further alienates her until she moves in with a young social climbing teacher who takes her under her wing. But that's going to end badly too. Great comedy of manners film from director Bruce Beresford, who was on such a roll at this stage that even a change of pace was not going to trip him. ” - johnnymoronic
When a suburban couple go camping for the weekend at a remote beach, they discover that nature isn't in an accommodating mood. (97 mins.)
“ Intriguing two-hander humans vs nature thriller about a bickering couple who go camping for the long weekend much to chagrin of the wife (Briony Behets, adding to her list of victims). They treat nature with contempt and then nature fights back in its own special way. Great idea that is executed creepily well, but just falls short of being a great film mainly because its very heavy handed and over-the-top with the humans brutality of nature. Even Greenpeace isn't this overbearing! ” - johnnymoronic
An armoured car company is the target of repeated heists. Company leadership is enforcing new measures in order to tighten the security. However, the biggest danger of a new heist lies within the company's own ranks. (92 mins.)
“ Brutal heist thriller from Bruce Beresford (who else!) featuring a slew of well known Australian actors. After an armoured car heist ends badly for the robbers, a group of pissed of workers decide that they can do better and take a cool 20 million. Except one of the crew oversteps his influence and incurs the wrath of a crime boss (bizarrely 'Bud' Tingwell, who seemed to play a few bastards in the 70s) and the notice of the new security guy. With the pressure mounting on the crew it's only going to end with a bloody mess and a high body count. Slickly told thriller which rises above it's pulpy beginnings. ” - johnnymoronic
“ Set on the streets of Melbourne, two teenage girls run away from a girl's refuge and live in an abandoned house. They meet two country boys in the city looking for work, but can't get any. While they fall for each other, they desperately try to improve their circumstances including the girls going into prostitution. Grim drama from director John Duigan that still holds up quite well as the themes are still very relevant. Recently released on DVD after years in the wilderness. ” - johnnymoronic
In post war Australia the men and women of Cinetone struggle to produce the weekly news reels for the movie going public. (110 mins.)
The Night, the Prowler
The Night The Prowler, is about the dark side of suburban middle-class urban culture and family relations... (90 mins.)
A comatose hospital patient harasses and kills though his powers of telekinesis to claim his private nurse as his own. (112 mins.)
“ A romantic drama that is filmed entirely in New Zealand (although has Australian backing and lead actors) where drifter Judy (Lisa Peers) first meets Paul (Vincent Gil) when he puts out a campfire she has illegally lit in the forest. He decides not the charge her and they meet again when Judy is hitchhiking and Paul picks her up while he's on his way home from picking up his odd son Billy (Perry Armstrong) from school. Turns out Paul flies planes around the forest making sure things like what happened when they first met don't happen. He takes her up in a plane that he lets his son fly. Paul is obsessed with planes and after letting Judy sleep over at his house, he introduces her to a Tiger Moth that he has finished building and is about to fly for the first time. He offers a ride to Judy, she is reluctant, but after initial declining she joins them and they go for a flight until they run out of fuel. They are picked up by a local man and his wife who are happy for the company and turn out to be quite eccentric. Billy decides to take the Tiger Moth for a spin after they get fuel and crashes it, leaving them stranded at the eccentric couple's place. Judy and Paul fall in love and everything seems fine, but once they finally get back to Paul's place, Judy is reluctant to continue their relationship much to the disappointment of Paul who hasn't been with a woman since his wife's death. Judy leaves, but Paul has left an indelible impression on her that might leave hope for the future. Again, a movie very much of its time, this quaint romantic drama is not without its charm particularly in regards to plane flight. There's a great opening scene that feels more like another dystopic movie is starting up, but goes gently after this. But that son of Paul's, Billy, is one very odd kid who going to get himself into a bit of trouble in the future. He's introduced by one of the strangest scenes I've ever seen in a PG movie, joyfully perving on little girls changing. It's one of those scenes where you can't believe what you just saw and in today's environment would be hounded out of the movie, but is meant to be innocuous in Solo. He's boasts of his pornography collection at another point then openly reads a Playboy magazine on a train, which turns out to be a fairly funny scene strangely enough. That's not to mention him constantly getting into scrapes. Oh for a woman's touch! A gentle little doomed romance that is more of its time, but not bad nonetheless. ” - johnnymoronic
The Sound of Love
(1978 TV Movie)
A romance about two people who are both disabled. Racing car driver Dave and street-girl Eileen fall in love after he has a car accident... (77 mins.)
Dimboola follows the interaction of various characters at a country wedding reception. (94 mins.)
“ Dimboola is a comedy focusing around the upcoming wedding between Morrie and Maureen (Bruce Spence and Natalie Bate). In the country Victorian town of Dimboola, English journalist Vivian Worcester-Jones (Max Gillies) has come to experience how the locals celebrate a wedding. First, the respective parties have a bucks/hen's night, which Vivian experiences both (dressed as a woman for the hen's party). A photo of Morrie with the stripper (Clare Binney) surfaces and gets in the hands of Maureen, who calls off the wedding. Vivian tries to make his move on the vulnerable Maureen, to no success, but Morrie finds a way to win Maureen back and they get married.
Told mostly through the eyes of Vivian, this turns out to be a terrible device. Vivian is such a pointless character (who was not in the play, just written in for the movie) and his appearance drags the film down. It's not Max Gillies fault, who's fine, but it's just seems so unnecessary. Meanwhile, the jokes are rather flat and the lead couple are hardly worth caring about. The wedding looks like fun, but the humour is completely forced and has dated badly. Also, it looks like footage was inserted into the film, hopefully just to salvage a bad film, but the inserts are terrible quality. Looks like this IS a long forgotten film. Bah! ” - johnnymoronic
Harvest of Hate
(1979 TV Movie)
A young couple is captured by Arab terrorists in the Simpson Desert. (75 mins.)
Comedy about a Journalist on A Sydney Newspaper (95 mins.)
In a self-destructing world, a vengeful Australian policeman sets out to stop a violent motorcycle gang. (88 mins.)
“ Mad Max is an action revenge thriller set in the not too distant future that follows the aftermath of the death of notorious criminal Knightrider during a police chase. The bikie gang he belongs to, run by Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne), continue to run amok as Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) and Goose (Steve Bisley) attempt to bring the gang down. After a run-in with bikie young turk Johnny The Boy (Tim Burns), who is let off a charge, Goose is determined to get him, but it goes wrong and Goose is murdered by Johnny The Boy at the insistence of Toecutter. Max decides to quit as it has all gotten too much. He goes on holiday with his wife Jessie (Joanne Samuel) and his Sprog, but along the way they run into the bikie gang and piss them off. So, they go after Max and family, but in the commotion the arm of one of the bikies gets ripped off. And now the bikies wants revenge and they deliver it in a way that will unleash Max and turn him into Mad Max with the car to match.
Deservedly iconic Australian film, but is nowhere near as good as its exhilarating first 10 minutes, a sublime car chase in the back roads of Victoria. The film then regathers and takes a while to get back into full throttle, but by no means does this make Mad Max a bad film. A great film that would later be bettered by it's sequel. ” - johnnymoronic
The Odd Angry Shot
In between drinking cans of Fosters beer, Australian soldiers tread on a few landmines, and generally experience the war in Vietnam. (92 mins.)
“ The Odd Angry Shot is a war comedy about a group of soldiers trying to survive the boredom and the danger of the Vietnam War. Bill (John Jarratt) is going to war where he joins a platoon already well into the war. When they are not on duty, they are stuck in camp with not a lot to do but gamble and get drunk and avoid the clockwork like rain that constantly falls. And every once in a while they would come under mortar fire and the platoon would get casualties. So, all Bill has to do is survive his stint, even as his girl doesn't write to him.
A bit like M*A*S*H, but with an Australian larrikin spirit, The Odd Angry Shot is a pretty damn good film with plenty of laughs, some quite tragic moments (poor John Hargreaves character cops a whole lotta sh*t) and a great ensemble of actors that round out this genuine Australian classic. ” - johnnymoronic
(1979 TV Movie)
A young couple, living in a campus apartment complex, are repeatedly harassed by an eccentric plumber, who subjects them to a series of bizarre mind games while making unnecessary repairs to their bathroom. (76 mins.)
One More Minute
Angela is a young hairdresser thrown out of home by her puritantical mother after too many nights out... (92 mins.)
The descendant of Elizabeth Bathory is abducted by a cult of self-proclaimed supermen who achieve this state of superiority by drinking from the "blood cows" (read: people) kept at the "dairy farm", and they try to get her to join them. (93 mins.)
The Chain Reaction
An earthquake in rural Australia causes a dangerous leak at WALDO, a nuclear waste storage facility... (92 mins.)
Boardroom and dressing-room intrigues spill on to the field at the Australian Rules football club. (96 mins.)
“ Bruce Beresford directed Aussie Rules football drama The Club, reteaming with Don's Party writer David Williamson for a behind the scenes look at the boardroom machinations of the Collingwood Football Club during a premiership year. Not a bad film, but not as good Don's Party. The football scenes are OK, although it is obvious the inserts are from a different ground. Plus, they beat my side, the old Fitzroy, in the grand final and I can't abide by that. And Micky Conlan getting shown up twice. Bullsh*t! And great to see Rene Kink getting a decent role here, even though he drops the towel... ” - johnnymoronic
“ Hard Knocks is a drama about a teenage girl Samantha (Tracy Mann) who has had her fair share of trouble. Out of juvie after performing an armed robbery with her mates, she's keen to start again going straight. Of course, that isn't going to be easy. Her old friends haven't moved on at all, in fact they've dug deeper into that hole, so she attempts to avoid them. She has also started modelling and meets a woman who tries to get her better modelling gigs, except it turns out the guy doing the hiring will get her gigs if she sleeps with him. All the while, it feels as though Samantha is going to find it hard to get out of her hole and this is amplified when the cops who arrested her begin to harrass her.
Hard Knocks is a pretty simple film, you've seen it all before, but it's short film (barely 75 minutes) which definitely helps. This is a character study, so the plot gets the short shrift and so do most of the supporting characters. Tracy Mann does some good work here as the whole film rests on her and is pretty convincing both pre and post-juvie. The film is perfectly serviceable but hardly groundbreaking or for that matter, riveting. ” - johnnymoronic
A modern-day politician is faced with an incomprehensible in this mystical-fantasy. Senator Rast is a very powerful man... (95 mins.)
A reporter and his girlfriend follow around a famous actor/entrepreneur and discover some dirt on him to be made public. (81 mins.)
“ Death Games aka Final Cut is a psychological thriller about wannabe documentary filmmaker Chris (Lou Brown) who with his journalist girlfriend Sarah (Jennifer Cluff) score an interview with the mysterious and reclusive millionaire and possible sleaze merchant Dominic (David Clendenning). Chris and Sarah are invited on the boat for a party Dominic is having with his also mysterious, possibly porn star wife Yvette (Narelle Johnson). It seems Dominic has had a bit of trouble, possibly involving a murder and Chris is determined to get to the bottom of it. But, Dominic is having none of that, so he tempts Chris by giving him a hint of what happened, then promptly drugs his drink. While in a drug haze, Chris believe he sees a bloodied, half naked woman and attempts to investigate, but blacks out. The next morning it seems he is missing a reel of film, the one with the potentially damaging information. Later, Chris and Sarah continue the interview at Dominic's penthouse apartment, where over the next few days, Chris and Sarah are tormented by Dominic and Yvette, scaring them, drugging them, threatening to release damaging footage of them *beep* and setting them up for murder. Can Chris and Sarah survive the weekend with their sanity in tact and expose the rich couple wicked games?
There's an interesting concept here in amongst a surprising amount of debauchery that is also surprisingly coy, especially during a bizarrely arty lesbian scene. But Death Games blows it with a preposterous final act that is so ridiculous, you don't really care whether Chris and Sarah survive as there's a lot of ridiculous fake outs. Close, but no donuts.
Also, ala Centerspread, there's a few 70s and 80s Australian Penthouse Pets in the cast. ” - johnnymoronic
A little girl named Cathy tries to keep her mother from making out with a man while driving one day... (90 mins.)
Filmed in the Clare Valley, Gladstone and the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, this prison movie was inspired by the true life prison riot at Bathurst Jail in 1974 and its subsequent Royal Commission into New South Wales Prisons. (101 mins.)
A young girl is subjected to a reign of terror so that her soul can be transferred to the body of an old crone. (97 mins.)
“ An occult thriller where Alison (Joanne Samuel from Mad Max) is warned during a séance that on her 19th birthday, she will be used in an occult ritual against her will. Now, four days before her 19th birthday, she receives a call from her aunt (Bunney Brooke) that she would like Alison to join her and her uncle (John Bluthal) for birthday celebrations. She reluctantly agrees mainly because she is told her uncle is unwell. Alison brings along her radio announcer boyfriend Peter (Lou Brown), but the vibe is off from the moment Alison gets there. She collapses after discovering a stone monument in the backyard and is freaked out by an 104 year old woman who is introduced to her as her grandmother. Then, the uncle begins to ward off Peter, but Peter is concerned for Alison, even moreso when she faints again and a very suspicious doctor becomes involved. It turns out that the uncle and aunt are not really Alison's relatives and kidnapped her from birth as they are into the occult and are planning on using Alison to transport their aging Goddess Merna to the youthful body of Alison's. Peter attempts to stop this from happening, but is he already too late. Interesting occult thriller that's influenced by The Wicker Man, that isn't without it creepy moments, particularly when Peter becomes desperate. It doesn't all work, the uncle and aunty are a little too genial to be considered the threat they actually are, maybe better casting might have made them more disturbing as both Brooke and Bluthal are much loved 'nice' actors and don't bring much of a dark side that would be necessary for the things they have done. I didn't mind Alison's Birthday, but it still feels very minor despite a surprisingly good second half and ending. ” - johnnymoronic
The Story of a photographer's struggle in the glamorous world of nude modeling. (82 mins.)
“ Centrespread is a, um, uh, sci-fi softcore drama, yeah, that'll do... set in the not too distant future where the world is divided into the have and the have not and the world is run by a central computer system that determines who are the haves. A sex publication, yeah, that'll do... has hired Gerard (Paul Trahair) to be their photographer and has one month to come up with the most stunning shots for their special edition, I assume... Gerard is given free reign to find the best model for these shots and after a hard days shoot, visits an antique shop on the poor side of town and discovers Niki (Kylie Foster) working there and instantly declares that she's the one. But, Niki is not interested in being a model, even if it means that she will go to the otherside. Gerard chases Niki, determined to get her to pose while becoming more disillusioned by the state sanctioned models and set-ups. Will Niki pose for Gerard? Will Gerard become less comatose? How many naked girls showing very 80s nudity can you fit into one movie? Will this film make a jot of sense? Awwww, who cares?
The first film from notorious producer Wayne Groom (Maslin Beach, Strangers, Summer of Love, which aired once on Channel 9 in 2001 and has sadly never been seen again) is a total tax write-off if ever there was one. The whole sci-fi, post-apocalyptic setting and how it manages to be a life and death situation that Gerard has to get the perfect nude shots is so baffling that I wonder why not just show naked girls for 75 minutes instead. It'd make more sense. The actors are pure amateurs with only Kylie Foster seemingly having any sort of career (check out Kitty and Bagman). Paul Trahair never gets out of first gear, a total walking comatose and being the lead character, that's just pure death. But, there's lots and lots of naked girls and a bit of sexual abandon, so, there's that to get you through. Favourite scene involves Gerard being taken aback that Niki is wearing underwear because they don't bother with that on the other side of the world. HAHAHAHAHAHA ” - johnnymoronic
A scientist is experimenting with teenagers and turning them into murderers. (87 mins.)
Two Australian sprinters face the brutal realities of war when they are sent to fight in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War I. (110 mins.)
True story about a jailed bank robber who pretends he's become blind to get an early release. Cops don't believe him, but a lonely minister's wife arrives to teach him how to live with his "condition". They fall in love. Big mistake. (89 mins.)
The Killing of Angel Street
Jessica Simmonds returns from overseas to find her retired professor father in a bitter public fight... (96 mins.)
Lady Stay Dead
A Young woman is looking after her sister's house, unaware that her sister and neighbor have been murdered by their handyman who also happens to be a serial killer. (92 mins.)
“ Lady, Stay Dead is a thriller about Gordon (Chard Hayward), a gardener who is obsessed with pop star Marie Coleby (Deborah Coulls). Gordon just happens to be working on Marie's property and he wants to have sex with her. Marie is about to go away for a shoot and her sister Jenny (Louise Howitt) is going to stay at her house. Except Gordon really wants to have sex with Marie. But, she does not want to, so Gordon forces himself on her and then when she rejects him, he drowns her in the fish tank. Then, the housekeeper from across the way comes over. Gordon kills him. Then, Jenny arrives and it's just never going to end for poor Gordon. First, he tries being friendly with her, then she gets suspicious of him, so he decides to kill her next. Except, she's proving harder to kill than her sister...
From Terry Bourke, the director of some quite sleazy films Night of Fear, Plugg and Inn of the Damned and bizarrely, the rather sensitive Little Boy Lost, it comes as no surprise that Lady, Stay Dead begins so sleazily, I wondered how much more sleazy it could get. Thankfully (or not...), it's toned down in the second half. It's a damn shame this film isn't all that good because at times it threatens to be a decent little thriller, but it keeps shooting itself in the foot with some clunky moments. The cop played by Roger Ward feels like comic relief which pricks whatever tension was built up. Chard Hayward is surprisingly good as the Norman Bates-ish psychopath who keeps digging himself into a bigger and bigger hole. If only the clunkyness and the sleaze were toned down, it could of being a contender. Ah well, the sleaze is nice though. ” - johnnymoronic
The Road Warrior
In the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline rich, community escape a band of bandits. (95 mins.)
The story of a pair of Australian pilots working for a small South Pacific airline. Paul, a wildly successful womanizer... (82 mins.)
“ Pacific Banana is a bawdy sex comedy about Martin (Graeme Blundell), a pilot who has demoted after the owner's wife makes a play for him. He gets sent to co-pilot for the dodgy Banana Airlines with lothario pilot Paul (Robin Stewart from Bless This House). Also, thanks to the aforementioned incident and another one with her daughter, Martin has become impotent, which is about to become a major inconvenience. Martin has further problems with the youngest daughter Julia (Helen Hemingway from Patrick) who has fallen for Martin and keeps stowing away when he flies. Also on the flights are Paul's two women, Mandy and Sally (Alyson Best from Harlequin and well known 70s model Deborah Gray), who are the stewardesses and are long suffering in love with Paul, who sleeps around all the time. Martin's impotency problem must be solved and Candy Bubbles (British model Luan Peters), who runs a local girls club has decided, with the help of her girls, to cure Martin of his problem. It's not going to be easy, but they're going to keep trying until he's cured. But, there's one girl who will solve his impotency are she's currently the bane of his existence...
From notorious producer/director John D. Lamond (Nightmares, Fantasm, Felicity, Breakfast in Paris) and written by the writer of Alvin Purple, Alan Hopgood, Pacific Banana was apparently supposed to be a Carry On... style movie, but Lamond was having none of that and directed a movie that's far more interested in seeing naked women than getting a laugh. Oh, sure there's plenty of gags, but they are, for the most part, recycled from other bawdy productions and have become incredibly cringeworthy and possibly already were when the movie was released. The addition of a salacious, know-it-all narrator doesn't help and there's a pie fight scene between adults that would have young children rolling their eyes in embarrassment. Yes, Pacific Banana is a very poor movie, but I can't say it's not a watchable movie because it plays very light and is jam packed with pretty girls and at 80 minutes it is an easy watch that was probably perfect for the drive-ins back in the day. Both lead women Alyson Best and Deborah Gray seem to have a lot of fun and are under no illusions as to what the movie is trying to achieve. Graeme Blundell is basically replaying Alvin Purple and Robin Stewart is well cast.
If you want a good movie, Pacific Banana ain't it. If you want to see naked women romping around and plenty of cheap limp dick jokes, this might be for you. ” - johnnymoronic
The mating rituals of two teenage surf chicks from the southern suburbs of Sydney. (87 mins.)
“ Puberty Blues is a coming-of-age drama set amongst the surf culture on the beaches of Sydney in the late 70s. Debbie and Sue (Nell Schofield and Jad Capelja) are best friends and are desperately trying to fit in with the cool girls who hang out with the surfers. After been caught cheating on an exam, the girls become closer to being in the cool group. They join their parties where Debbie attempts to lose her virginity with the dopey Bruce, but fails both times she tries. Bruce dumps her, not exactly something Debbie has a problem with as she wants Danny. And Debbie and Sue want to surf, but 'chicks don't surf', they're only good for going to shop and getting a chiko roll. 'And don't take any bites from it, alright?'
Oh wow, this film is really is something. Very much of the time and the culture where every girl's a mole and every bloke gets a root. While the feminist movement had well and truly set in, it was still very far from where young girls are today and this film shows how much. Another great film from director Bruce Beresford (Don's Party, Money Movers) and I'm still bummed about Jad Capelja only ever been in two films (the other been Freedom). ” - johnnymoronic
Treasure of the Yankee Zephyr
In a lake high in the mountains of New Zealand hunter Gibbie Gibson discovers a plane wreck from ww-ii... (108 mins.)
A truck driver plays a cat-and-mouse game with a mysterious serial killer on a desolate Australian highway. (101 mins.)
“ Roadgames is a thriller from director Richard Franklin (The True Story of Eskimo Nell, Patrick, later Psycho 2, Hotel Sorrento, Brilliant Lies and Visitors) about a truck driver Quid (Stacy Keach) who has to drive a load of meat from Melbourne to Perth. Along the way, he gets a feeling he might of come across a murder after hearing news on the radio. After picking up a woman from the side of the road, he takes a short cut and spots who could be the killer possibly burying something. This starts a cat and mouse chase on the way to Perth that builds momentum when another hitchhiker Quid picks up who he labels 'Hitch' (Jamie Lee Curtis) is kidnapped by the possible killer. He's also a pretty good match for the killer himself. Can Quid save Hitch in time? Can he get the load to Perth in time?
A pretty good Hitchcockian thriller that has some pretty tense scenes and some pretty good set pieces. And Keach is pretty damn good as a rambling, barely sane driver trying to alleviate the boredom of driving cross country. ” - johnnymoronic
A plane crashes just after takeoff and the only survivor, the pilot, walks out of the wreckage. He doesn't remember the crash, but 300 passengers and crew are dead. As the investigation goes on people are wanting answers. (87 mins.)
A Dangerous Summer
When a crummy hotel burns down in Australia, the American co-owner tries to find out whether or not the fire was deliberately set or just an accident. (88 mins.)
Attack Force Z
A group of Australian commandos launch a secret mission against Japanese forces in World War II. (93 mins.)
“ Crosstalk is a thriller about computer specialist Ed (Gary Day) who has designed a system that has human-like characteristics. When Ed has a mysterious accident involving his brakes being cut, he is left handicapped, but still on a deadline to get the system ready. Also, the computer seems to be a bit of a voyeur and likes to spy on other people in the building. And, the computer has just spotted someone getting murdered in the building, then the computer goes haywire, repeating footage and voice samples to a befuddled Ed, but when he works it out, of course no one believes him, so he gets his nurse (Kim Deacon) to check out the apartment, just as the supposed killer comes home...
Look familiar? Yep, this feels very much like a Rear Window knock-off, but because Rear Window is such a perfectly structured film, if you follow the structure close enough, you will come up with something half decent. And Crosstalk is not a bad film at all. The computer is like a character in the film and well, it actually feels like the most rounded character in the film. The actual actors don't add a whole lot, but aren't bad and the underlying mysterious company angle seems a little too complicated as to its motives and how it gets to them. Overall though, the film is well worth a look. ” - johnnymoronic
The Dark Room
A slightly disturbed young amateur photographer finds that his father has been secretly having an affair with his co-worker. Thus begins a spiral into blackmail, stalking, and voyeurism. (94 mins.)
Three young friends trying to break into the entertainment business inadvertently anger a mob boss, setting in motion a chain of events that results in their being hunted by every thug and killer in town. (92 mins.)
Duet for Four
A middle aged man deals with various problems. His wife is cheating on him, his own mistress wants to get married, his daughter is showing signs of drug addiction, and his business may be taken over. (97 mins.)
“ Duet For Four is a 1981 drama written by Don's Party writer David Williamson about the chaos that surrounds the life of Ray Martin (Mike Preston). Currently in a relationship with Barbara (Wendy Hughes) and living with her and her children and is pressuring marriage, his life is made complex by his ex-wife Margot (Diane Cilento) who keeps him on his toes especially with her new, much younger lover. Their daughter Caroline (Sigrid Thornton) is running with the wrong crowd and is getting into trouble with drugs. Mike works at a toy company with his very good friend and right hand man Terry (Gary Day) and things are changing rapidly at the company. Interest to buy out a local toy company has come from America and Al Geisman (Michael Pate) has come to Australia to suss out the companies and make the final decision. It looks as though Al is going to go with Ray's company, but as this happens, Ray's daughter Caroline overdoses. This changes Ray's perspective on life and he will make a major life changing decision that will change everything.
Well, it's no Don's Party, but there are elements that work well, particularly the final act turn of events, but the film just isn't interesting enough. Ray seems to have it all and lives well, but apart from his daughter's issues, his problems seem relatively minor. Who cares that his partner wants to get married to him? Who cares that he will be bought out and become richer? Who cares about his issues with his ex? His midlife crisis looks pretty good to me. The most ridiculous thing in this film has to be some of the proclamations about the future that are made, all of which are way off. Embarrassingly so... ” - johnnymoronic
“ Early Frost is a potboiler set in Blacktown, a suburb of Sydney where a group of middle aged women are getting bumped off and dragged into their pools (which is rather specific mode of killing). It looks like Val Meadows (Diana McLean) is next as she is electrocuted (um, but her place doesn't have a pool...). She wakes up the next morning and accuses her son Peter (Jon Blake on debut) and they seem to have a loving relationship that can only be fixed by one of them dying. Seems Val is a terrible mother, a bit of a slut and accidentally killed Peter's father during a drunken dispute. Next, a private detective looking into the affairs of those who have died is killed when his car blows up. And there's a photo with the dead women in it that also features Val, yep, she's next, but who is the killer and does anybody really care?
Terrible, possibly finished in haste film (it has no credited directed) that I'm not even sure gives away the killer as we never see them do it and I'm assuming the reveal is some scene at the end, which isn't exactly conclusive. In fact, Val does actually die, but this is revealed in a bizarrely comical newspaper article further adding to the finished in haste angle. Val is such a cow of a character that anyone watching the film is probably a suspect. If you don't do it, I will... ” - johnnymoronic
A cynical Australian ex Nam war vet runs a sleazy bar in the Philippines. Hif old flame enters his life again asking for help since her husband, an investigative journalist is prosecuted by the junta for discovering too much. (102 mins.)
“ Far East is a Manila in the Philippines set drama/thriller, basically an update of Casablanca, with Rick, now Morgan Keefe (a perfectly cast Bryan Brown), an Australia ex-pat and go-go bar owner that is popular with Australian tourists. And then one day, of all the go-go bars in Manila, in walks investigative journalist Peter Reeves (well known thesp John Bell) and his French accented lover Jo Reeves (Helen Morse, reteaming with Bryan Brown after the ultra successful A Town Like Alice remake). Of course, Morgan and Jo have a past and it's not long before they rekindle that flame they once had. Meanwhile, Peter is investigating local cheap labour and how they are exploited and is guided by Rosita. When Peter and Rosita are 'arrested' by local government thugs and are holed up in an undisclosed location, Jo begs Morgan to use his contacts to help get Peter and Rosita out. Of course, Morgan decides to do all his own dirty work with the help from some friends (including Bill Hunter looking very Bill Hunter), but maybe he has bitten off more than he can chew.
From John Duigan, the director of Mouth To Mouth (see below) as well as numerous others (also mentioned below), this is a rather good 'reimagining' of Casablanca (of course not quite as good as Casablanca, a brilliant film if ever there was one), with great performance from the well chosen cast and a rather sad ending. If you're going to have a go at Casablanca, at least have a decent go at it and Far East does. ” - johnnymoronic
Ron, a young man in his late teens or early 20s, but emotionally younger, has no visible, employable assets, yet rails at his status in life -- blaming everyone for the fact that his dreams are not coming true. (102 mins.)
A planned housing development in the mid 70's designed for an upstart Cockney immigrant developer, becomes the centre of controversy as tenants and squatters in the older houses refuse to move. (91 mins.)
In this offbeat comedy, an unlikely romance develops between a flamboyant, middle-aged piano tuner and an extremely timid office worker. In HD. (106 mins.)
“ Lonely Hearts in a romantic drama about two people who are set up through a dating agency. Peter (Norman Kaye) is a 50-something man who fixes pianos for a living, wears a toupee, is a bit of a kleptomaniac and is feeling lonely after the death of his mother. Patricia (Wendy Hughes) is a 30 year-old shy bank clerk, who is inexperienced relationship wise and still lives with her domineering parents. They meet up and seem to hit it off well. Peter encourages Patricia to join him in the amateur play and she does so well she ends up getting the lead. But, Peter wants more from the relationship, Patricia is reluctant, but gives him a chance to go further, but he goes too far and Patricia leaves and ends the relationship. Peter is distraught and the play is in chaos. Can Peter win her back?
Paul Cox films are an acquired taste, some are pretty good, but others are insufferable. Lonely Hearts is a winner because it feels right even with an overly dramatic ending. While it's played pretty straight, there are doses of gentle humour which feels very much like they come from co-writer John Clarke, an excellent satirist (The Games is a well known example of this). ” - johnnymoronic
A frank portrayal of a year in the life of a divorced mother living in Melbourne, trying to cope with her daughter and her own relationship with a drug addict while trying to get into the music business. (99 mins.)
Young woman wants to become the next big singer with the help of her friends and despite the wishes of her working class family. (105 mins.)
Next of Kin
In a rest home for elderly people, a daughter reads her mother's diary. Soon events that are mentioned in the mother's diary begin to happen to the daughter. (89 mins.)
Running on Empty
This film collects just what it was like to be in Australia in the early 80's. It's about hot cars, hot chicks and hot times... (83 mins.)
“ A car action thriller made in Western Australia where Mike (Terry Serio) is an aspiring drag racer who wants in with the scene. He strikes up a friendship with model Julie (Deborah Conway), who's in with the scene, much to the dislike of self-proclaimed head of the scene Fox (Richard Moir) who forces Mike to race to be a part of the scene, which he promptly fails. But, Julie likes Mike and along with his mechanic mate Tony (Vangelis Mourikis), they head out to the country to make easy money scamming rubes with a fast car and hope to make enough money to make changes to the car so that Mike can beat Fox. Along the way they meet a blind, 50s obsessed mechanic called Rebel (Max Cullen) who along with his wife helps them when their car is destroyed by a bunch of local hoons not liking being beaten in a race and eventually lends them his own pride and joy to beat Fox. Wow, this movie is very much of it's time and has a seriously strange vibe about it, almost dystopic and very much about the hopelessness of being young with a truly baffling ending that does nothing to dispel that dystopic vibe. Women are practically non-entities in this movie, even the only female character of note, Julie, gets treated like crap, one scene involving her and Mike where he gives her a black eye is absolutely off, not to forget an earlier attempt at raping Julie by Fox's gang. And Mike is such a prick, it's hard to barrack for him when so ruthlessly wants to be in this social scene. There's attempts a comic relief from, who else but two SS-like cops, one played by noted comic Grahame Bond, but doesn't work at all. A very strange movie, something for the revheads, but very much of its time and a surprisingly slow movie even at only 80 minutes. ” - johnnymoronic
Wormy and diminutive, yet cunning and determined small-time hoodlum Squizzy Taylor rises to prominence and popularity in Melbourne... (97 mins.)
Deviants are held at a rehabilitation fortress until they're set into a deadly game of survival, in the hopes of returning to world society. (93 mins.)
The Year of Living Dangerously
A young Australian reporter tries to navigate the political turmoil of Indonesia during the rule of President Sukarno with the help of a diminutive photographer. (115 mins.)
Two BMX expert bikers and a friend of theirs (Kidman) become entangled with a group of bank robbers after discovering a carton of walkie-talkies. (88 mins.)
Young miners Mike and Johnny (Colin Friels and Harold Hopkins) work in the gem fields of central Queensland around Emerald. Conflict arises when their pick-and-shovel operation is threatened by a large scale bulldozer operator. (97 mins.)