Australia immediately stirs the imagination. Outback regions populated by Aborigines and exotic animals. Free spirits devoted to surf and sand. Apocalyptic, anti-authoritarian warriors tearing up the landscape with hellcars. These images have a toe in truth but largely foreigners and native Australians seeking to define and understand the multifaceted land down under manufacture them. The film industry contributed greatly to such perceptions, creating both an idealized Australia full of serene kangaroos and koalas and an out-of-control island where anything goes. Not Quite Hollywood explores the latter at full throttle.
Crammed full of boobs, sex, gore, blood, explosions and car chases, the documentary celebrates the Ozploitation movement of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, a period that saw Australian cinema absorbing social changes enveloping the world and producing films as wild as any American exploitation flick. The upheaval hit all fronts, from crude comedies and sexcapades (The Adventures of Barry McKenzie, Stork, Alvin Purple, The Naked Bunyip) to weird horror flicks (Patrick, Razorback, Howling III) and violent actioners (Mad Max, Dead-End Drive-In, The Cars That Ate Paris, The Man from Hong Kong). Director Mark Hartley examines them all in a befitting whiz-bang style, bouncing between money-shot clips and interviews with the minds behind the films, many of whom reveal off-screen goings-on that rival the on-screen in insanity. The interviewee roster staggers 80 deep, but among the luminaries are directors Brian Trenchard-Smith, John D. Lamond and George Miller, actors Barry Humphries, Susannah York, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dennis Hopper, Stacy Keach, legendary stuntman Grant Page and Ozploitation champion Quentin Tarantino, whose dissection of the Australian fetishization of the automobile is worth the price of admission alone. Grade: A