Review: Not Quite Hollywood, The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!
Review by Laurent Hasson
Documentaries about films are a tricky affair. Either they have to be about an incredible film, or the documentary itself has to be cool and uncover little known nuggets about a cult classic, or they have to paint an epic movement and give you tons of information, references, and cool interviews. Not Quite Hollywood is of the latter kind, but unlike the recent American Grindhouse, it manages to pile on so much energy, laughs, outrageous interviews and cool film bits.
Maybe I am being unfair to American Grindhouse. Being more “academic” in its nature and covering grounds I suspect most readers of these pages know well already, I found the documentary overall flat and without much in terms of new information, or cool interviews. The arc being painted of the evolution of exploitation cinema from the days of pre-code films to the pornographic and violent extremes of 70’s and 80’s is old. In comparison, Not Quite Hollywood is a powerful dynamo that takes you through fifteen plus years or so of Australian genre cinema from the late 60’s to the early 80’s. I found myself writing down the names of at least twenty or thirty films I’d love to watch right now.
Unfortunately, and that’s the most frustrating part about this documentary, the vast majority of those films are unavailable to rent either at NetFlix or BlockBuster, or buy at places like Amazon (unless old previewed VHS is an option for you, and even that, the selection is still poor). It looks like genre Australian films have been poorly served on home video, and with the explosive revival of exploitation cinema that has given countless reissues of American, Italian, German, French and Spanish films of the 70’s and 80’s, fans of the genre have been spoiled to expect a plethora of choice to be a given. So paradoxically, because Australian exploitation films are so under-represented, I expect most readers of these pages, including yours truly, to not know close to half of the films discussed in this documentary, Given that, the material seems wild and fresh, and gives you at the end of the day that warm feeling that there are still so many great movies that are just waiting to come out again, to be appreciated all over again.
One of the highlights of the documentary is the collection of interviews that were pulled together. The who’s who of actors, stuntmen, special effects creators, cinematographers, directors and producers are all there. You get that feeling that making genre films in Australia during that time was just a plain jolly good time. People reminisce with glee those long lost years of exuberance and bliss, as frantic images of those little known gems explode all over the screen. It’s an absolute joy ride and while I generally watch documentaries while doing other things, for this one, it was simply an impossible task. I was glued to the screen, taking more frantic notes. The cherry on the cake for me was Tarantino. This guy does have an encyclopedic knowledge of all films, from all places, and all times it seems. He also glowed with his characteristically contagious energy talking about his favorite films. I found myself laughing out loud when he talked about Patrick and how cool it was that the Italians ripped it off with an unsanctioned “sequel” a couple of years later.
This documentary is a must see for any lovers of genre films. It covers an incredible amount of films and people and chronicles fifteen years of utter fun in the Australian movie industry. For even the hard core aficionados, I suspect most of the material will be new, and at the same time frustrating since most of those films are not easy to get.