When Australia finally established an R-rating for film back in 1971, production studios were quick to take advantage of their new found freedom and Ozploitation was born. Running alongside the Australian New Wave of the 1970s and early ’80s, low-budget Ozploitation films were known for their explicit sexual, horror and gore factor.
This week, Foxtel’s World Movies channel has been airing classic Ozploitation films, so we thought we’d look at what’s been on offer. You may well have missed these (or not have Foxtel), but you can always find them on iTunes, at your local video store or even (in most instances) for free on YouTube.
Alvin Purple (1973)
At the time of its release, Alvin Purple was the most commercially successful Australian film. With Graeme Blundell as Alvin and the endless nudity and sex scenes, the film was a critical flop, but entered the Australian cultural lexicon in a profound way, spawning two sequels and a TV series. The trailer below is the safe-for-work version, but the entire film has been uploaded to YouTube for free. And while it was made in 1973, you should still probably avoid watching it in your office …
Road Games (1981)
It’s the serial killer film Ozploitation fan Quentin Tarantino named as his favourite Australian film, and it stars Stacy Keach as a truck driver and Jamie Lee Curtis as a hitchhiker. Riding high on the expectations of the Ozploitation era, the film’s US distributors insisted on an American leading lady, but it failed to make an impact at the US box office. The entire movie is online on YouTube.
In Stone, a police officer (played by Ken Shorter) goes undercover to investigate a series of murders in an outlaw motorcycle gang. Filmed around Sydney, it became well known for the assistance the Hell’s Angels club provided in the production and starred Rebecca Gilling, Bill Hunter and Helen Morse. Again, the whole film has been uploaded to YouTube.
Mad Dog Morgan (1976)
Dennis Hopper flew to Australia to star as the real life bushranger Dan Morgan in this quintessential Ozploitation flick. Essentially a Western filmed in Australia, director Philippe Mora said that he was: “setting grotesque 19th-century human behaviour against an extraordinary landscape. I created Francis Bacon figures in a Sidney Nolan landscape, with stunts inspired by Jean Cocteau.” It featured Jack Thompson and David Gulpilil in supporting roles and is available on YouTube.
Canadian actress Glory Annen starred as a Catholic schoolgirl in this sexploitation film about her exploits in Hong Kong. While at school, she reads erotic novels and is in a lesbian love affair with her best friend, but her travels open her up to all new experiences. Director John D. Lamond said he was inspired by the work of French director Just Jaeckin, and was seeking to make a piece of respectable, classy erotica, not pornography. Judge for yourself.
For a decent overview of the Ozploitation era, check out the vibrant 2008 documentary Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation. The film, which Quentin Tarantino supported, features interviews with actors and directors including Jamie Lee Curtis, Dennis Hopper, George Lazenby, George Miller, Barry Humphries, Stacy Keach and John Seale.