Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

If you're a fan of B-movies - of nudity, gore, monsters, car chases, kung fu action and ultra-low-budget fun - then Not Quite Hollywood is a treat you can't afford to miss. If you live outside Australia, the chances are that you'll never have heard of most of the films mentioned here (indeed, the same will be true of many Aussie viewers), but you won't find this film any less fun as a result. The chances are that you'll simply spend the next few years trying to track down the flicks it features.

Watching Not Quite Hollywood is a bit like watching the sort of trailer that splices together all the best bits from a film, except that it keeps going for nearly two hours, making it lots of fun in itself, not just a story about fun. And it really is that. Most of those involved - directors, stars, and enthusiasts like Quentin Tarantino - are intensely excited about these films, and their enthusiasm is infectious. The film is sensibly divided into sections so that we don't overdose on one genre and get bored, but none of those sections are dull. Even the actresses who seem less comfortable today with the work they once did have compelling stories to tell.

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This is not the most incisive piece of documentary making. It doesn't ask many difficult questions and it largely lets its subjects portray the image they want for themselves, frequently at the expense of mainstream Australian and US cinema. It's easy to forget that this work constitutes a counterculture when it's treated with such easy acceptance. But Not Quite Hollywood still succeeds in providing shocks and surprises along with the traditional B-movie thrills.

One can't help but suspect that some of the films featured would not prove as interesting to watch as the stories of how they were made. There are tales here of live ammunition fired at actors, of car chases filmed on open roads where members of the public were trying to drive, of James Bond stars set on fire, of stuntmen diving eighty feet into pools full of sharp rocks, and of trucks trying to jump right over drive-in movie theatres. The list of ridiculously dangerous activities that the stars of these films survived is amazing, but of course there were some who were not so lucky. Yet even that didn't deter anyone - when a stuntman was killed in a rapids-riding stunt, others followed to finish the job. And the reason all these dangerous things happened? Again and again the reason given is simply "We didn't really think about it at the time."

This kind of dedication is rare in modern filmmaking and it's fascinating to observe, like watching a bullfight or seeing tightrope walkers perform without a safety net. Celebrities lie Barry Humphries and Jamie Lee Curtis offer their take on events, but generally it's the little guys - the ones nobody outside that industry remembers - who are the most interesting - and here they get plenty of opportunity to speak. One gets the feeling that they could teach Hollywood a thing or two about making movies.

Reviewed on: 12 Feb 2009
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Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! packshot
Documentary charting a key moment in Aussie cinema.
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Director: Mark Hartley

Writer: Mark Hartley

Starring: Phillip Adams, Christine Amor, Glory Annen, Victoria Anoux, Ian Barry, Briony Behets, Steve Bisley, Jamie Blanks, Graeme Blundell, Russell Boyd

Year: 2008

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Australia

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