• Not Quite Hollywood (Umbrella Entertainment)

    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: October 5th, 2017.
    Director: Mark Hartley
    Cast: Brian Trenchard Smith, Grant Page, Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Lee Curtis, Everett De Roche, Richard Franklin, Antony I. Ginnane, George Lazenby, James Wan
    Year: 2008
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    The Movie:

    The Australian film industry had a bit of a boom in the seventies and eighties, where directors were churning out all manner of trashy sex, action and horror pictures generally made with low budgets and aimed at the drive-in crowd. A lot of these films were and still are a whole lot of fun, many possessed of a culturally unique ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ mentality, though a large majority remain fairly unknown on western shores. Writer/director Mark Hartley’s documentary, Not Quite Hollywood, sets out to shed some light on these films and on the people who made them.

    Beginning his piece by explaining how censorship issues start to ease up, Hartley first exposes us to the sex comedies that were popular for a while like Alvin Purple and Stork. Goofy, screwy saucy pictures that evidently did just fine at the box office, the flood gates were set to open with plenty of horror and action pictures soon to come. Director’s like Brian Trenchard-Smith and producers like Antony I. Ginanne start churning out films like Escape 2000, Stunt Rock, The Man From Hong Kong, Patrick, Fantasm, Fantasm Comes Again, and plenty more and the once rather humble Australian film industry was now moving in full swing.

    Much like the boom days of the Italian and American exploitation scenes, these films are products of their time. There’s plenty of rampant sex and gore, boobs and blood, explosions and stunts and as such, many of the folks involved in this stuff have some cool stories to tell. Not Quite Hollywood lets them tell those stories. Yes, it’s a clip heavy picture that you could say plays as a greatest hits reel of Aussie trash movies but in between those clips we get to hear from the likes of Brian Trenchard Smith, Grant Page, Jamie Lee Curtis, Everett De Roche, Richard Franklin, Bill Margold, Antony I. Ginnane, George Lazenby, and plenty of others and we also get to hear how these films impacted modern filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and James Wan.

    The film makes a case for their inspiration by noting that recent successful Australian genre pictures such as Wolf Creek and Black Water are in essence throw backs to some of the films covered in this picture. There’d be no Black Water were it not for Dark Age and it’s nice to see a picture pay tribute to the old guard as it were, particularly as quite a few are no longer around to enjoy the mini-resurgence some of their work now appears to be going through.

    The film proves to be a pretty entertaining jaunt. It’s never taking itself all too seriously, which is a good thing when you realize how ridiculous a lot of the movies that its discussing were, and most of the interviewees seem to be having a really good time reminiscing here. There’s a palpable spirit of fun that runs rampant throughout the picture, and it’s as generally interesting as it is humorous. It’s by no means a definitive picture as there’s still a fair bit of ground left uncovered here and the interviews could have been more in-depth but if nothing else, Not Quite Hollywood will likely inspire you to search out a couple of the films it pulls from and hopefully inspire a few adventurous moviegoers to look down under the next time they’re searching for cinematic kicks.


    The quality of the AVC encoded 1080i transfer varies from scene to scene, which is completely understandable when you consider that this documentary is a mix of recently shot interview clips and old, archival chunks culled from various sources of varying quality, though generally the clips are in good shape here. The 1.78.1 widescreen transfer looks quite sharp. Colors and detail levels, for the newly shot footage, look nice and accurate while black levels stay pretty deep. There aren't any problems with compression artifacts or edge enhancement to note and the disc is nicely authored. The older footage looks a bit rough in some spots as you'd expect it to, but overall the image quality here is pretty strong. In terms of how it compares to the previous DVD release, there’s a noticeable uptick in detail, depth and texture. It’s never as revelatory as some upgrades given how the source was assembled, but it does definitely look better.

    While the film is pretty much all dialogue, the English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track does do a nice job of spreading out the various songs and bombastic moments from the clips used throughout the documentary to all of the channels in your setup. Bass response is bouncy enough to be noticed while the high end is free of any shrillness. The levels are well balanced and, aside from some archival clips, there are no problems with hiss or distortion. An optional English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is also included. Sadly, there’s no lossless option included here.

    Supplements start off nicely with a pretty kickin’ commentary track that comes courtesy of writer/director Mark Hartley and the ‘Ozploitation Auteurs’ – they being Brian Trenchard-Smith, Antony I. Ginanne, John D. Lamond, David Hannay, Richard Brennan, Alan Finnay, Vincent Monton, Grant Page and Roger Ward. With as many participants as this track has, it can be a little tricky keeping everyone separate so it’s important that there be a structure to it. Thankfully, Hartley keeps things on track, basically interviewing these guys one at a time or in small groups, allowing them to tell more anecdotes and ‘fill in a few gaps’ surrounding the stories of these films. The track is pretty much packed with information and it covers a lot of ground that isn’t covered in the documentary itself, - it’s also interesting to get to hear what some of the participants think of the documentary seeing it now in retrospect.

    From there check out the twenty-one deleted scenes that are available on their own or through a ‘play all’ button. Here you’ll find more info on film’s like Inn Of The Damned, Alison’s Birthday, Nightmares, Weir’s The Cars That Ate Paris, Sky Pirates and the like as well as some extra bits with Grant Page, and Eliza Fraser. There’s roughly an hour of excised and extended content in here, so set aside some time and dig in!

    Next up are three interviews, the first of which is a piece where Quentin Tarantino Interviews Brian Trenchard-Smith (12:59) which turns out to be a surprisingly cool piece. Tarantino has his input but actually lets Trenchard-Smith get plenty of speaking time and the two have a nice, natural chemistry together. There’s also an Audio Interview With Richard Franklin (22:46) included here where the director discusses his life and career which is fairly interesting even if the audio quality is a bit low.

    In addition to what was included on the US DVD release that came out via Magnolia a few years back, there’s also quite a bit of material that we haven’t seen before. First up is The Lost Interview: Chris Lofven in which the man who directed 20th Century Oz speaks quite candidly about his time in the film industry. In A word with Bob Ellis that bit that was once hidden as an Easter Egg on the Magnolia DVD is now accessible off of the main menu. We also get a selection of MIFF Ozploitation panel and red carpet footage which is interesting enough to see. The panel footage sees the director and a few others field questions about the picture.

    Also included is thirty-five minutes or so of behind the scenes footage that was shot by various crew members during the making of the picture. Honestly, most of this is skippable but for those who just can’t get enough it might be passably interesting. More worthwhile is a UK interview with director Mark Hartley in which he talks about the project, why he made it, what went into getting it finished and more. Hartley also shows up in three more separate interviews – one from The Bazura Project, one from The Monthly and one from The Business. At this point, we start to notice some repetition between the interviews, but again, no reason not to include it here.

    From there we get a few filmmaker specific pieces. John D. Lamond: Confessions Of An R-Rated Filmmaker sits down with the storied director of many of Australia’s better known sexy softcore entries for a chat about his time spent in the industry. From there, dig into Barry McKenzie: Ogre Or Rocket, a look at the popularity of the Barry McKenzie films and their uniquely Australian qualities. A similar featurette entitled Inside Alvin Purple covers the popularity of the Alvin Purple films, which are similar in certain ways and again uniquely Australian. Also onboard are Terry Bourke’s Noon Sunday reel, an interview with John D. Lamond shot on the set of his infamous Patrick while it was being shot, and then a documentary called To Shoot A Mad Dog in which we go behind the scenes of the excellent Mad Dog Morgan.

    Rounding out the extras is an Ozploitation stills and poster gallery, a Not Quite Hollywood production gallery, a collection or original pitch promos, the film’s original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection.

    But wait, there’s more. How could we not mention the ‘Extended Ozploitation trailer reel?’ There’s three hours and five minutes of vintage Australian movie promos included here! Be on the lookout for:

    Outback / Walkabout / The Naked Bunyip / Stork / The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie / Barry McKenzie Holds His Own / Libido / Alvin Purple / Alvin Rides Again / Petersen / The Box / The True Story Of Eskimo Nell / Plugg / The Love Epidemic / The Great MacArthy / Don’s Party / Oz / Eliza Fraser / Fantasm / Fantasm Comes Again / The FJ Holden / High Rolling / The ABC Of Love And Sex: Australia Style / Felicity / Dimboola / The Last Of The Knucklemen / Pacific Banana / Centrespread / Breakfast In Paris / Melvin / Son Of Alvin / Night Of Fear / The Cars That Ate Paris / Inn Of The Damned / End Play / The Last Wave / Summerfield / Long Weekend / Patrick / The Night / The Prowler / Snapshot / Thirst / Harlequin / Nightmares / The Survivor / Road Games / Dead Kids / Strange Behavior / A Dangerous Summer / Next Of Kin / Heatwave / Razorback / Frog Dreaming / Dark Age / Howling III: The Marsupials / Bloodmoon / Stone / The Man From Hong Kong / Mad Dog Morgan / Raw Deal / Journey Among Women / Money Movers / Stunt Rock / Mad Max / The Chain Reaction / Race For The Yankee Zephyr / Attack Force Z / Freedom / Turkey Shoot / Midnite Spares / The Return Of Captain Invincible / Fair Game / Sky Pirates / Dead End Drive-In / The Time Guardian / Danger Freaks

    Crikey, that’s a lot of good stuff!

    The Final Word:

    While at times it plays out like a greatest hits reel, who cares! Not Quite Hollywood is as entertaining as it is interesting and it does a great job of prying the lid off of the Australian exploitation scene from the late sixties through to the eighties. Umbrella’s disc looks and sounds just fine and is loaded with some pretty sweet extras too – quite a few more than were found on the domestic DVD release from a few years ago. A fine release through and through!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Maureen Champ's Avatar
      Maureen Champ -
      A ninth screencap goes from Tony Williams' Next of Kin. I wish Umbrella Entertainment (or even Arrow Video with its essential taste) will release this hidden gem of Cinema on blu-ray!