Ozploitation in the Outback 

Australian cinema rarely registers with people as a distinct entity. Does anyone really think of Mel Gibson as being Australian at this point, or is he just a talented and offensive Hollywood madman with extremely bad taste? With that thought in mind, consider the documentary Not Quite Hollywood. It chronicles a moment in Australian cinema now known as Ozploitation. With the Australian government stimulating filmmaking with tax cuts in the late ’60s/early ’70s, we began to see a parade of splatter horror films, vomit comedies, and boob-filled grind pics. If Not Quite Hollywood is an accurate documentation of the era, we have to think of Ozploitation as one of the most deranged and fascinating film periods of all time. The documentary is edited in a flashy VH1 style, however the content is damn near NC-17. It flows like a delirious montage of breasts, vomit, and blood. If Australia is (or ever was) seen as an outlaw country, then it shouldn’t be shocking that their exploitation films went way beyond those of their American counterparts both in content and unabashed glee. But to flip the scenario around, when you think back to Mel Gibson and his offensive behavior during the last few years, you have to wonder — is he just another Hollywood jerk, or perhaps just a product of Ozploitation cinema?

Probing further into the consciousness of Australian cinema we come to a concept called Outback Gothic. This describes a vast collection of films that share one interesting trait: contrasting the dysfunction of civilization with the madness and horror found in the desert of the Outback. Such films might include: Road Warrior (Mel again), Walkabout, and perhaps the godfather of this genre, Peter Weir’s Australian New Wave masterpiece Picnic at Hanging Rock. In this film, a group of school children and their teacher go out into the desert to have lunch. They are drawn towards a geological destination called Hanging Rock. Mysteriously, the girls begin to disappear. The film deftly keeps the audience in darkness. However, unlike American horror films where the mystery lies in the shadows, with Outback Gothic, the mystery is the sun-drenched landscape itself.

Cine File is a random reference guide to help explore the vast catalog of films available on Netflix instant viewing, with special emphasis on the interesting, the unusual, and the ones that got left behind.

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March 25, 2020

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