Lady Stay Dead (1981)

One from the to watch pile…

Lady Stay Dead (1981)

Film: Several years ago, Australian filmmaker Mark Hartley made a documentary called ‘Not Quite Hollywood’, and I curse him every day for that marvellous piece of work. Why do I curse him? Well I knew very little about ‘those’ Australian films, and that doco turned into a shopping list that has subsequently cost me hundreds of dollars in film purchases.

The main film that intrigued me on the documentary was this one, Lady Stay Dead, mainly due to the fact that I was completely unaware of its existence. Whilst I may not have seen some of the other films, I had certainly heard of them at least, but this one was a mystery.

Written and directed by Terry Bourke, whose resume also contains films like Inn of the Damned, Plugg and Night of Fear, not to mention a TV series that few remember but was one I liked as a child called Catch Kandy, this film is an interesting beast.

Gordon (Chard Hayward) is a professional Gardner, but his paid work isn’t what defines him… it’s his hobby as an abuser of women! His job sees him maintaining the grounds of celebrity Marie Colby (Deborah Coulls), an abusive cow who through her insults finally drives Gordon to make her his next victim, but when she resists and continues the abuse, he snaps and drowns her in a fish tank. When is disposal of the body is witnessed by a neighbour, Gordon realises that he must kill again, but these attacks will start a series of events that may bring about Gordon’s downfall. Has he left too many clues to his hobby, or will he get away with it again?

There is no doubt that this film has been wrapped in Ozploitation, and then triple dipped in sleaze! The story is a mix of the previous year’s Bill Lustig film ‘Maniac’ and 1975’s ‘L’assassino é Costretto ad Uccidere Ancora’, aka ‘The Killer Must Kill Again’, but with a fair dinkum beachside locale and a bunch of hot Aussie chick who all get their kit off!

Now that may sound great but there are a few drawbacks. The acting is dire, and I mean as if the actors are reading off cue cards dire! Also, the soundtrack if a mix of terrible ‘I Never Been To Me’ styled pop songs, and elevator music circa. 1973. I’m no music critic but this stuff poisoned my ears.

This films as Australian as they come, so Ozploitation fans really need to have this in their collection, but unfortunately, it’s just not very good. When neither the victim or perpetrator in a film have any charisma, you are off to a pretty bad start, but then this cliched farce has NO suspense and some really laughable dialogue and acting, so there is no salvation at all.

It does however feature Australian legend and actor from Mad Max and Turkey Shoot, Roger Ward, so all is not lost. Worth watching for cultural embarrassment only.

Score: **

Format: Lady Stay Dead was reviewed with the Code Red, multi-region Bluray which runs for approximately 94 minutes, and presented with a 1.78:1 image with a mono audio track, and considering the age of the film, aren’t too bad at all. There a are few artefacts and marks here and there but no so persistently that is becomes a distraction.

Score: ***

Extras: There is only one extra on this disc and it is called Banana and the Lady. It’s an introduction to the film by former-wrestler Katarina Leigh Waters on something called ‘Bucket List Theatre’ and she proves that as a presenter, she is a great former-wrestler. Why is it called ‘Banana and the Lady’? Well it starts with a guy in a banana suit replicating one of the scenes in the film, but this time it ends with him blowing a bad CGI load over the lens.

One thing I did find disappointing about this release is the menu screen image highlights Katarina’s stupid bit rather than the actual movie, which seems disrespectful to the movie, if you ask me.

Score: *

WISIA: I doubt very much of this will get another watch here at the ol’ To Watch Pile.

Fair Game (1986)

One from the re watch pile…

Fair Game (1986)

Film: After I saw Mark Hartley’s amazing documentary Not Quite Hollywood, I became obsessed with the period of Australian cinema it covered. Not only because it showed me some films I’d never seen before, but it also reminded me of a whole lot of stuff I’d seen on VHS and forgotten.

… and so the copious amount of shopping, both local and tragically international… I mean what a shame one can’t get all the Australian movies here in Australia!!!

To date, of the ones I want to own, the only one that continues to elude me is Lady Stay Dead!

Of all these film that I hadn’t seen before the one I absolutely fell in love with was this film, Fair Game, so back then I searched out the DVD release and thankfully, Australian company Umbrella Entertainment have now released a pretty amazing Bluray of the film.

Fair Game tells the story of Jessica (Cassandra Delaney), the caretaker of a remote wildlife reserve who comes into contact with some pretty dodgy out back versions of good old boys: Sunny (Peter Ford), Ringo (David Sanford) and Sparks (Garry Who). Whilst the boys think they are merely playing with Jessica, Jessica doesn’t see the funny side of their taunts (which include breaking into her house a photographing her whilst she is asleep… definitely crossing a line) and very soon things escalate out of control.

Unfortunately for Jessica, she is very much alone: her phone has stopped working and her car has broken down… could these three miscreants eventually resort to murder… or even worse?

It really doesn’t get more Australian than this film. The red glow of the Australian outback is just as much of a star of this film as the actors involved. Those very actors are pretty amazing at the jobs too. In no way is this a serious film, it is a caricature of a serious rape/ revenge film like I Spit On Your Grave and the actors all play their parts like the cartoonish archetypes that they represent: helpless woman, smarmy badguy, rat-faced henchman and tunny, dumbo second henchman.

The real star of the film though is the car. It’s a cross between a Ford F100, a vehicle from Mad Max and a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It’s a beast and plus a big part in the threatening nature of the film.

It’s a cracker of an Australian film, and everyone should really give it a fair suck of the sav !

Score: ***

Format: This film was reviewed with the Umbrella Entertainment multi-region Bluray which is presented in a clear 1.85:1 image with a matching 2.0 DTS-HD audio track.

Score: ****

Extras: Heaps of awesome extras on this disc:

Audio Commentary with Director Mario Andreacchio and Writer Rob George

Extended Interview with Cassandra Delaney from Not Quite Hollywood is, what the title would suggest, a 15 minute interview taken from Mark Hartley’s amazing doco about the Australian Ozploitation films called Not Quite Hollywood.

On Location with Fair Game is about three minutes of behind the scenes footage of the scenes surrounding the destruction of the house with The Beast.

Behind the Scenes – 1985 TV Report from NWS9, Action News and Behind the Scenes – 1985 TV Report from ADS-7, State Affair are two news reports of the making of the film. By the looks of the channels it was for regional stations for some colour inbetween ‘real’ news.

Behind the Scenes with Dean Bennett is about an hour of behind the scenes material.

There is a bunch of promotional stuff like a theatrical trailer and an image gallery.

Storyboards shows a pretty cool series of storyboards for the film, shown as a slideshow with the score over the top.

Mario Andreacchio Short Films is obviously a series of short films by Andreacchio which honestly, I could make it all the way through. They do definitely explore the Australian youth experience though.

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s not the greatest film ever made, but it’s so over the top you’ll definitely watch it more than once.

Red Christmas (2016)

One from the to watch pile…

Red Christmas (2016)

Film: We all owe Bob Clark a great deal. If Clark hadn’t have made 1974’s Black Christmas, John Carpenter May never have made Halloween and the holidays may never have been a topic for the spectacular bunch of horror movies we have that are based in or around special occasions. A world with no Mother’s Day, no New Years Evil, no April Fool’s Day, no Silent Night and maybe even no Red Christmas!

Red Christmas is the brainchild of Australian actor/ writer/ director Craig Anderson who has won two AACTAs for his work on television comedies Double the Fist and Black Comedy. Anderson managed to get the skills of Horror legend Dee Wallace, probably known best for Cujo and The Howling in the film, and she really is the key to holding the whole film together.

Red Christmas tells of the final Christmas of the family home of a family in somewhat of a crisis. Diane (Wallace) has decided to sell the family estate so she can go on a world trip as she promised her now deceased husband that she would do after he passed. Her adult children aren’t too impressed with her decision as it means her Down’s syndrome son, Jerry (Gerard O’Dwyer) will be placed in assisted living… but on Christmas Day, a horrible secret returns to haunt Diana.

A cloaked figure names Cletus (Sam Campbell) has appeared and as a Christian family, they welcome him to their table, but Cletus seems to know a secret that Diana has kept hidden from her family. When he is rejected and kicked out of the house, he decides to wreak bloody vengeance on the family… but who will survive?

Anderson has created a magnificent looking film and uses all the tropes of Italian giallo cinema by using the Christmas lights of the family house to change the look of almost every scene. Within any particular scene, the colour palette changes from red to green (both giallo and Christmas colours) then to blue and pink creating an amazing depth in the image, and making the whole proceedings quite unsettling. It really is an amazing visual tool.

The casting is an interesting too. In addition to Wallace, O’Dwyer is a revelation. His performance is clever and funny, and evolves to a horrifying point after he feels rejected by his mother. Another casting choice which was a strange one was that of David Collins as a somewhat pervy minister: Collins is probably best known as the one with hair from the comedy group The Umbilical Brothers.

The film is gory and even though some of the effects are a little basic, they do the job well, and if you are a fan of practical special effects, like me, you’ll probably dig the low techy look of them anyway.

My only real problem with this film was I couldn’t help but think of the movie You’re Next (2011) with its family in crisis under siege and 80s horror actress in a matriarchal role, which did a very similar story (without the abortion or Down’s Syndrome themes) much more thrillingly.

All in all, Red Christmas takes some interesting and controversial subjects and makes an efficient horror film which is shocking and an entertaining watch. The best thing about this film is how damn serious it takes itself, even though there are occasionally a few ‘Fair dinkum’ Australian characters who might provide a touch of the old cultural cringe!

Score: ***

Format: This film was reviewed with the Umbrella Entertainment DVD which runs for approximately 78 minutes and is presented in a clean 2.35:1 image with a matching 5.1 audio. The disc itself, however, does seem to suffer from a slight bit of uneven audio mastering as found myself adjusting the volume from extra to menu to feature and back.

Score: ****

Extras: There is certainly an interesting bunch of extras on this disc.

Behind the Scenes Part 1 and 2: if there was ever a series of footage to tell people what an absolute nightmare it is to make a film, and that you have to have have both perseverance and a large dose of insanity to do so, this is it. If I ever had even the slightest inclination to make a feature film, these two pieces have permanently washed it away.

There is a deleted scene which doesn’t really effect the film at all with its absence.

Visiting Gerard O’Dwyer is an interview with one of the disabled actors from the film. It’s quite a funny interview and O’Dwyer is charming.

There is also a teaser trailer and a trailer for the film.

The cover slick offers an audio commentary for the film provided by Anderson and O’Dwyer but this options seems to be missing from the actual disc as an option.

Score: ***

WISIA: Red Christmas is a decent slasher but there is possibly hundreds of other slashers that I’d watch again before this one.

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation (2008)

One from the re watch pile…
Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation (2008)

The Umbrella Entertainment Bluray release of the film


Film: 2008 and the viewing of this film was a big thing for me. As an Australian and being a fan of cinema, somehow the fact that this whole ‘Ozploitation’ sub-genre even existed had passed me by. I knew that there were Australian films obviously, and loved a few of them (Mad Max and Turkey Shoot come immediately to mind) but I didn’t realise how much stuff I had naturally assumed were American… even films like Dead Kids aka Strange Behaviour, an Australian film, I naturally thought was America , though in that case I think it was the point.

Now when I say Australian film, I don’t necessarily mean heartfelt, moral stories or period pieces, what I am talking about is the rough and tumble, violent, bloody, nude-filled lowest common denominator films made for people like… well, like me!

This documentary is written and directed by Mark Hartley, who had previous made several documentaries about specific Australian films like Blood and Thunder Memories: The Making of Turkey Shoot and Jaws On Trotters: The Making of Razorback, and it is divided into three sections:

Ocker’s, Knockers, Pubes and Tubes looks at the Australian version of sexploitation, and the celebration of the freedom that the post 60s world allowed us.

QT enthusiastically talks about Ozploitation films.


Comatose Killers and Outback Thrillers jumps into the horror part of this period and we celebrate all the blood and gore that was on offer at the time.

High-Octane Disasters and Kung-Fu Masters is the final part of the film and it looks at the Australian action films of the time.

The biggest problem any film fan and movie collector will have with this film is that by the time you finish it, you have a shopping list of 50 films you immediately have to buy. It’s been almost 9 years since I first saw this and I’m still trying to get Lady Stay Dead and Snapshot!

Robert Powell survives in… well, The Survivor


Director Mark Hartley obviously has a massive love of Australian cinema and this documentary tells the story of this period of Australian cinema with the exact brand of humour that the films it celebrates displays. It has a great look to it as well: It art design is very of the time it discusses but it’s cut in a modern manner and with some hilarious animations.

A special cooee has to go out to the music as well. The selection of pop songs is spot on and the other music by Stephen Cumming of The Sports and Billy Miller of The Ferrets is fabulous too.

Quite possibly the BEST documentary about a niche sub genre of cinema ever. With so many interviews it could have been easily turned into a boring talking heads styled thing, but there is SO much archival footage and SO much clever and interesting editing that is really a feast for the eye.

Score: *****

The menu to the Umbrella Bluray of Not Quite Hollywood


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian Umbrella Entertainment multi-region Bluray release which runs for roughly 98 minutes. The film is presented in 1.77:1 and mostly looks fantastic. As one would expect, some of the archival stuff isn’t perfect. The audio, featuring some amazing Australian music, can be heard in either 2.0 or 5.1 and both sound great.

Score: ****

Extras: Extras? EXTRAS? Oh boy, is this disc just straining the threads of its undergarments with extras! It’s voluptuous with extras! It’s well-hung with extras!

Seriously though, if you for some crazy reason thought there wasn’t enough about Ozploitation info in the main part of the doco, or you just haven’t seen enough boobs, the extras will more than satisfy your desire for more.

First we have a commentary featuring a bunch that the cover declare to be the Ozploitation auteurs: Mark Hartley himself hosts this commentary and through the course of the film has a turnstile of talent who star in the doco, and has a lot more anecdotes and information about this film.

Deleted and Extended Scenes can be watched with the commentary on or off and even though I would have preferred this to be recut into the film, I do like watching them with either the commentary on or off as it’s pretty informative, and features some films that are quite conspicuous with their absence.

The Lost NQH Interview: Chris Lofven which features an interview with the director of 1976’s OZ, which unfortunately was left out of the film.

Quentin Tarantino and Brian Trenchard-Smith Interview Featurette has a conversation between the two directors and their respective careers.

Melbourne International Film Festival Ozploitation Panel sees a whole bunch of NQH interviewees talking about the state of censorship and other aspects of film and art of the time this film discusses. (There is a misspelling of the film ‘Stork’ as ‘Stalk’ but I guess either could be used to describe the character!)

Melbourne International Film Festival Red Carpet is an astounding piece of footage of stuntman Grant Page walking the red carpet, quite calmly, on fire.

Behind the Scenes Footage from the Crew sees a bunch of BTS stuff filmed on a Duty free purchased video camera whilst they were in the UK doing the interviews for the film.

UK Interview with Director Mark Hartley is just that, and it’s a nice introduction to the director.

The Bazura Project Segment sees another interview with Hartley with the guys from The Bazura Project.
The Monthly Conversation is a low-res version of an interview Hartley did with Tom Ryan from The Monthly.

The Business Interview is an audio only interview with Hartley.

Extended Ozploitation Trailer Reel is 3… yes, 3 hours of Ozploitation movie trailers!

Confessions of an R-Rated Filmaker: John D. Lamond Interview sees Mr. Lamond talk about his career.

The next 5 extras are archival ones, made at the time of the films they represent.

On-set Interview with Richard Franklin is an interview with Franklin on the set of the horror film Patrick.

Terry Bourke’s Noon Sunday Reel talks about the making of a film called Noon Sunday.

Barry McKenzie: Ogre or Ocker is a short doco about the making of the Barry McKenzie films.

Inside Alvin Purple is an hour long documentary about Alvin Purple.

To Shoot a Mad Dog Documentary looks at the making of Mad Dog Morgan.

Ozploitation Stills and Poster Gallery is an awesome look at a lot of promotional stuff for many of the films mentioned throughout the documentary. It’s an animated gallery too, with some funky music over the slideshow.

NQH Production Gallery like the previous Gallery is an animated one, but now has some great portraits of the interviewees for the documentary.

NQH Pitch Promos sees the inception of the NQH project and features a lot of Tarantino, and his endorsement with some of Hartley’s other documentaries that have features]d as extras on other DVDs and BDs. 

NQH Original Theatrical Trailer is (phew!) exactly what the name would suggest!

If that’s not enough extras, I don’t know what else could appease you.

Score: *****

WISIA: if it’s not the best documentary made about movies, it’s certainly the best made about Ozploitation movies. I rewatch it regularly!

Cassandra Delaney braves a bull bar in Fair Game