Not Quite Hollywood (2008)

Director Mark Hartley
Writers Mark Hartley
Starring Quentin Tarantino, Barry Humphries, Jamie Blanks, Jamie Lee Curtis, Everett de Roche, Brian Trenchard-Smith
Genre Documentary
Tagline Finally an aussie film packed full of boobs, pubes… and kung fu.

Not surprisingly this journey down memory lane comes courtesy of Distributors Madman who have recently been flexing their cinematic muscle after the unheralded success of Kenny. And thanks to the team at Madman who have thrown together an altogether awesome DVD twin disc release of the documentary for region 4. Mark Hartley's doco may never have been made if it wasn't for one man, big round of applause for grind house fanatic Quentin Tarantino. Hartley sent his research on Australian film from the 1970s and 1980s to Tarantino to get an opinion. Tarantino for his part emailed Hartley back immediately and asked for him to fly out to the U.S to see what Tarantino could do to get the project off the ground. The rest as they say is history. Lets highlight the weaknesses, there are some, and the strengths of Mark Hartley' absorbing look at what has come to be called Ozploitation.

Talk us through it

Not Quite Hollywood sets out to explore the Australian exploitation movies of the 1970s and 1980s. The doco is broken into three parts covering the major genres that occupied the explotation movies. We begin with "Ockers, Knockers, Pubes and Tubes" which, as you might have guessed, covers the sexploitation output of the period. If you are British then button down the hatches Bazza McKenzie gets a look in. We next move onto "Comatose Killers and Outback Thrillers", a pretty comprehensive sojourn into the realms of horror output at the time. Before finally hitting it out of the ball park with "High Octane Disasters and Kung Fu Masters". Say hello to gonzo film making, Hunter S. Thompson has a lot to answer for, and by the way meet Max.

Hartley chronicles the course of ozploitation via the movie makers, actors, and critics who lived through one of the wildest times of Australian cinema production. You get to meet some of the "stars" of the period, and it's surprising who crops up with little kit on.

Ready to see what influenced Wolf Creek and Saw?


"Nobody shoots a car the way Aussies do. They manage to shoot cars with this fetishistic lens that just makes you want to jerk off." - Quentin Tarantino.

Through '08 it became increasingly obvious that if you reviewed movies in Australia then two flicks were to be given the kid glove treatment and given glowing endorsements regardless of quality. Baz's folly Australia was simple cringe worthy yet our Reviewers masturbated over it like it had already swept the Oscars and was a classic. Sorry that load of bollocks got exactly what it deserved in the International markets, and in an ironic twist that only Hollywood could dream up would be the sort of movie that Not Quite Hollywood would sink the slipper into. The fact that Australia is looking to be the second highest grossing movie of the year in Oz makes you want to cry Ruth really. The other movie that you simply aren't allowed to say a bad thing about is not surprising Not Quite Hollywood itself. While acknowledging the vital nature of the documentary and just how well it's been glued together there are still some cracks underneath the French polish.

A weakness of the big Aussie documentary was the coverage of modern exploitation movie makers. Throughout the course of Not Quite Hollywood a whole mob of people are at pains to throw mud at movies like Picnic at Hanging Rock, Breaker Morant, The Year My Voice Broke that had lead to an upsurge in interest internationally in Australian fillum (to use a Bazza term). Sour grapes comes to mind to be honest. On the second disc Bob Ellis simply lets rip on one of Australia's leading Directors Peter Weir. It seems if an Aussie movie of the period had the backing of the Film Institute or a major Studio then the denizens of Not Quite Hollywood were going to try and give it the slipper. How wonderfully naïve then that Hartly would interview Wolf Creek's Greg McLean and the Saw boys as representatives of modern Australian movie makers. Notably both parties have major studio backing. Hartley completely snubs the Indie Film Makers currently working in this country, who lets face facts would be the subjects of a similar documentary on the exploitation movie output of this decade. Sorry it's not just North Americans who don't seem to get the "ironic" word.

By snubbing current Aussie independant film makers Hartley presents a view that is at odds with the content of his own documentary.

Other than the issue above Not Quite Hollywood is a rollicking fun look at a period in Australian film history where the rules simply didn't apply. Hartley hits warp factor nine quickly with quick cuts and frenetic pacing and keeps this up through 98 minutes of interviews, film clips, and commentary on the scene at the time. There isn't a dull moment anywhere in the Documentary's running time, and I simply could not keep up with the number of movies being cited.

For Aussie film fans you get a run through of movies you just might have let slip off your radar, and even possibly get introduced to a few you were unaware of. For example I had never heard of Next of Kin. Non Aussies are really in for a fabulous time as the doco is an amazing resource of information if wanting to get to grips with the Down Under product. No stone is left unturned with all the major underground movies of the period rating a mention.

Without giving away too much, hey Jamie Lee Curtis was in Roadgames, there are some surprises hidden away in Not Quite Hollywood's running time. I certainly learnt a whole bunch of stuff I didn't know, for example there wasn't really an Australia film industry prior to the 1970s, and am actually richer for catching up with Hartley's Documentary. At the very least you wont be bored there's plenty to look at.

Kiwi cinema gets a look in, as you would expect with anything covering a Down Under cultural thing. Race for the Yankee Zephyr and Dead Kids are joint productions with the New Zealand Film Industry and are shoot on location in the "land of the long white cloud". There may have been others, I was hard pressed keeping track of all the movies mentioned.

The last aspect I wanted to mention was Not Quite Hollywood's eulogy on the death of the Australian drive in. Apparently there used to be something like over 400 locations in the Country while currently I'm pretty sure there's very few to be had. Hartley puts it down to the arrival of VHS, I would also add land prices and urban spread might have come into play. Anyways Hartley bookmarks his documentary with reference to the drive in of yore, a nice tough I thought and a look back at a more naïve time in this country.

Guess it's not really worth mentioning the acting in this one as everyone simply plays themselves and gets whatever they want to get off their respective chests. Quentin Tarantino comes off as something of a dick, but the boy sure does like himself some ozploitation. Barry Humphries cracked me up a couple of times during the documentary. Firstly he was pissed off that the sort of people they were lampooning in the Barry MacKenzie movies were the biggest fans, hey nothings changed there Mr Humphries they still haven't worked out Kath and Kim is a satirical look at their world. Then he decided the chunder scene from the first Bazza movie had been ripped off by the makers of The Exorcist, he was quick to point out that he had decided not to sue however.

If after T&A then you have hit the mother load here folks. More full frontals, both male and female, than you could reasonably expect at a King's Cross strip joint. Shock surprises for mine were Jackie Weaver letting it all hang out, and the love child of the ABC Sigrid Thornton dropping her top during one of the more ludicrous of the period horror flicks. Everyone get ready, drum roll please, the immortal John Holmes even gets a look in with his major claim to fame shown in all it's glory.

The soundtrack is another strength of Not Quite Hollywood, it's simply jammed to the rafters with some pretty good Oz rock. Wonder if there's a soundtrack album?

Summary Execution

Not Quite Hollywood is rude, crude, and fast paced. Surprisingly we get a combination of information and share fun times that you simply don't get during most documentaries. Hartley fixes his controls to the center of the sun of 1970s and 1980s Australian exploitation and heads on in with no thought as to reputation or commercial viability. He covers about everything you could wish for from Alvin Purple and The Naked Bunyiip, through simply bad horror like Turkey Shoot and The Howling 3, before touching bases with Mad Max and The Man From Hong Kong. There are quite a number of movies I've jotted down that I'll be spending time with during 2009 based on Hartley's documentary. Rollicking good time and an excellent introduction to the exploitation films on offer from the land Down Under.

As mentioned in the main part of the review I dug into Madman's two disc R4 release that is well worth an investment for Aussies and Kiwis. The documentary is still tooling around various film festivals and might be available at specialist cinemas. North America is getting a full release very shortly, but I have no idea on Europe and Asia.

Get out a large marker pen and write the name of the documentary on your significant other's forehead in case you forget that this is simply must watch stuff. We'll be covering a whole swag of movies mentioned in Not Quite Hollywood in what I'm already dubbing "the year of ozploitation". Strangely you are probably going to have a better chance of scoring some of the movies via than any of the Australia stockists, once again an example of the local Independent movies being overlooked (Black Water anyone). Right go grab a viewing of the documentary, tell us what you reckon, I've got a hankering to throw Turkey Shot onto the DVD player

ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...

  It's a doco so you can even claim "kulture" while watching it!