Barry McKenzie Holds His Own (1974)

Director Bruce Beresford
Writers Bruce Beresford, Barry Humphries
Starring Barry Crocker, Barry Humphries, Donald Pleasence, Dick Bentley, Louis Negin, Paul Humpoltez, Beatrice Aston, Nancy Blair
Genre Comedy
Tagline Hard on the heels of evil...soft on the lips of sheilahs!

Talk us through it

Barry McKenzie and his Aunt Edna are doing the European tour after time spent in Pomgolia. Naturally Bazza runs into a few mates from Down Under, and before the first tinnies are ripped open we find Edna has somehow been confused with Queen Elizabeth by a couple of ratbag Eastern European types. Plots are hatched to kidnap Aunt Edna and to do away with Bazza, her apparent body guard. Well they do manage to grab Edna and whisk her away to Count von Plasma's, the Transylvanian Tourist Minister, castle. A diabolical plan is underway to increase the tourist industry in the former Soviet satellite state that somehow involves the Queen choosing the place as a holiday destination.

Naturally Bazza and his mates are going to embark on a rescue mission and with the help of the Australian Embassy things are looking promising, if Bazza can just keep one step ahead of the Pommie Authorities that is.

Ready to check out a defining moment in Aussie Bogan cinema?


"I may be old fashioned, young woman, but lesbianism has always left a nasty taste in my mouth." - Aunt Edna Everage.

Barry McKenzie Holds His Own slipped in under the ScaryMind's radar on the assumption that it was somehow a vampire movie. While the fillum may contain a number of vampires and settle for Count Dracula's old stomping ground of Transylvania for the final block, the horror elements are few and far between and pretty much swamped by the anti-intellectual, anti-foreign, and pretty much homophobic nature of the rest of the movie. Rude, crude, and pretty much set in a mythical early 1970s where all Aussies were good blokes and sheilas and the rest of the world was teeming with ratbags. It's high farce as Writer Humphries intended, but pretty much provided a role modern for the emerging bogan hordes. Somehow the rest of the world has moved on from this fillum, the bogan hasn't, a defining moment indeed.

Director Bruce Beresford opens his fillum with the "Australian Minister for Culture" waxing lyric about the "Australian cultural renaissance" that apparently rivals and quite possibly over shadows those pooftah cultures from Overseas. We can tell Beresford is fair dinkum here by the large poster for Fosters lager on the Minister's office wall and of course a coffee table book about venomous Australian toads. The atmosphere of the movie is laid out pretty early, giving ample opportunity for any of the Wine and Cheese set audience members to flee like the ratbags they are rather than sitting through an hour and a half advert for Fosters' finest, assorted blokes getting pissed, and the sort of humour Benny Hill thrived on. Who doesn't chuckle over some hottie getting her skirt ripped off. We're pretty much in the think Aussie drink Aussie frame of reference here with the only divergence being Bazza's various half hearted attempts to root sheilas, as long as that doesn't interfere with cracking the next tinnie of course. There's something so quintessentially stupid about Beresford's opening that it actually works in setting the tone and Audience expectations.

A couple of sidenotes here and I'll get back to the business at hand. For years I thought the opening scene of Barry McKenzie Holds His Own was a scene from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, why on earth I thought this remains a mystery. I was thus mystified on a viewing of the new release of Rocky Horror as to why the scene had been removed. Thankfully it's now all clear and another of life's little confusions has been resolved. It's like having the scales removed from your eyes on the road to Damascus and then cracking a cold one in celebration. Sorry one more point and we'll movie along. For the Politically Correct amongst my readership this is a movie you might want to pass on as it's pretty much insipid racism, though in the Writers' defence they are sending up what we now refer to as the Bogue culture.

Beresford and Humphries present a social satire that is going to be obvious to everyone except the people they are taking the piss out of, ergo they acheive what they set out to do.

"I'm that thirsty I could drink out of a Japanese wrestler's jockstrap." - Barry McKenzie

"Oh Barry don't make such crude remarks about our dear little stunted slant-eyed yellow friends." - Aunt Edna Everage.

Can't you just see Boredwood doing a remake on this one and trying to tone down the script!

Okay back to the drink and chunder. The horror elements are pretty hidden in Barry Mackenzie but they do pop out from time to time in between Bazza and his Mates have a high old time not understanding foreign cultures. Plasma, a vampire, has a butler with a tap in his neck in case the Count fancies a pre-dinner drink. Actually that concept was pretty old by even this movie's time if we wanted to be brutally honest about things. Showing you can't keep a good marine nasty down, a number of swimmers are attacked by flesh eating sea wasps in a strangely gory fashion, with the local medicos only too happy to hit some amputation on the beach. There of course has to be some stakings going down, vampires after all, and Clive James gets plugged into a machine that drains the life blood of victims, though in Clive's case the only liquid being sucked out is lager. Yeah it is a tenuous claim to horror, but we are prepared to stretch the definition here at ScaryMinds and not get bogged down in how many angels can dance on a horror concept.

Overall the movie isn't that hard to struggle through, a few tinnies will probably help, and Director Beresford keeps things romping along without any lagging stopping the fun and frivolities. The humour, while being of the lowest common denominator style, will still bring a smile to your dial, with Bazza's various philosophies on life being a highlight. And just to ensure the Audience get their full dollar's worth we even get a song and dance number, though I must admit to getting up and grabbing another brew while that was going down.

While acknowledging Barry MacKenzies's place in Aussie cinematic history, no worries there, you have to wonder if perhaps we would have been better off without Beresford and Humphries' considered send up of the bogan elements. Unfortunately the whole thing whooshed over your average bogan's head and a certain Aussie stereotype was reinforced for foreigner viewers. Strangely a lot of audience members down the years don't seem to have got the inherent social satire being delivered here. You can either take the film as an undergraduate comedy attempting to be as vulgar as possible, or view things with a pinch of salt and simply enjoy the movie for what it is. At least Barry Mackenzie isn't trying to be anything it's not, at no stage does the notion of a "serious movie" kick in.

Barry Crocker (Barry McKenzie/Rev Kevin McKenzie) delivered on the required perpetually confused Bazza and backed up with the uptight Rev Kev. Barry Humphries (Aunt Edna Everage/Dr. Meyer Delamphrey/Senator Douglas Manton) was his normal larger than life self and delivered exactly what we would expect. And Donald Pleasence (Erich Count von Plasma) looked like he was having a good time, and perhaps a few tinnies into the bargain. While no one was putting up their hand for higher honours, the supporting cast managed to get through the movie relatively intact.

Sheilas are well catered for with Bazza Crocker almost going full frontal, dig in there ladies, and the blokes get the odd T&A moment as well. Surprisingly Director Beresford didn't go overboard on this aspect, which considering we are talking a Bazza fillum here is a puzzling development.

Summary Execution

Overall I had a good time with Barry Mckenzie Holds His Own, and I have to say it was a breath of fresh air to be able to sit down with something that doesn't know the meaning of political correctness, without it involving the Hey Hey It's Saturday Night crew of washed up hacks. I guess this one will fit into my guilty pleasure pile, to be enjoyed as a movie that could only have been made in the early 1970s.

[Editor's Note: Another rant coming at you].

Barry McKenzie Holds His Own was a sequel to Barry McKenzie and along with the Alvin Purple movies helped cement a rather low opinion of Aussies in European minds. This opinion was possibly not helped by the hordes of bogans who saw a European tour as a chance to get pissed and obnoxious in various other Countries. ScaryMinds would like to apologise for that and point out most Aussies don't fit into the "chav" like culture that our commercial media is doing it's very best to promote. Before I get completely off the point here, Umbrella have re-released both the Bazza fillums in their ongoing efforts to cover ozploitation fully.

I can understand why a member of the Johnny Foreigner club may not want to get into Barry McKenzie Holds His Own. It's smutty, it's quite juvenile, and to be honest barely operates as a movie (we're talking on life support here). Aussies should of course catch this fillum at least once in their lives and view it as intended, a huge piss take on bogan society. But I can fully understand you giving it a miss if the carrot is indelible wedged up your date, or that politically correct high horse you are on is a bridge too far. For everyone else, rip open a tinnie and give it a go, the movie is entertaining, no worries about that.

ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...

  Another woefully inept Aussie movie that manages to entertain.