20 FURIOUS OZPLOITATION CLASSICS
Ausploitation or “Ozploitation” Cinema (the favored shortened term) became highly successful throughout the 70s and 80s due to two main factors: tax cuts which gave producers the boost to make movies and the country’s then new R-rating. The filmmakers of the day finally had the chance to supply audiences with all kinds of vibrant cinema that reflected and celebrated the Aussie culture. Early Ocker comedies such as Alvin Purple, The Adventures of Barry McKenzie and Pacific Banana were the first to kick off a furious New Wave of moviemaking in the Outback which spanned a wide variety of genres.
Most film fans were introduced to Ozploitation through the internationally successful cult classic MAD MAX (1979), but there’s still many more movies for you to experience that are every bit as exciting, daring and fun. We’ve taken some time and picked out 20 of our furious favorites in hopes you’ll check them out.
Alvin Purple (1973, Dir: Tim Burstall)
One of the earliest films that kicked off the whole Ozploitation craze. Graeme Blundell stars in this over the top Ocker sex comedy about a Melbourne man who has women problems…he can’t stop making love to them since they find him utterly irresistable! Co-starring Jacki Weaver, Lynette Curran and Christine Amor. The film was a massive success upon its release and even spawned a sequel Alvin Rides Again (1974).
The Man From Hong Kong (1975, Dir: Brian Trenchard-Smith)
Asian kung fu icon Jimmy Wang Yu (The Chinese Boxer, Master of the Flying Guillotine) is HK Inspector Fang Sing Leng who is sent to Sydney, Australia to interrogate a drug courier (Sammo Hung) that has been arrested there. Aussie Detectives Gross (Hugh Keays Byrne) and Taylor (Roger Ward) assist him in the investigation which leads them to Jack Wilton (George Lazenby) a flamboyant crime kingpin. This film aka The Dragon Flies is a highly charged, stunt filled, action classic and one of the gems of its era.
In this Aussie version of Deliverance, a schoolteacher (Gary Bond) on a brief stopover in a small town called “The Yabba” finds himself being pulled into the local lifestyle of drinking, gambling, kangaroo hunting and moral degradation. A nightmarish journey into the Outback. Co-starring Donald Pleasence, Chips Rafferty, Jack Thompson and Sylvia Kay.
Mad Max (1979, Dir: George Miller)
In the post-apocalyptic future, Australian Main Force Patrol officer Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) does battle with a gang of crazed nomadic bikers led by the maniacal “Toecutter” (Hugh Keays Byrne). The cars and bikes tear up the highways and the emotions soar in this heart racing action classic. Co-starring Steve Bisley and Roger Ward. A smash Ozploitation hit which spawned two sequels and a reboot coming soon to theaters starring Tom Hardy as Max.
Patrick (1978, Dir: Richard Franklin)
Robert Thompson plays Patrick, a creepy comatose patient in a Melbourne hospital who had murdered his mother and her lover years earlier. To make matters worse, Patrick happens to possess special psychokinetic powers which he uses to communicate with Kathy (Susan Penhaligon) a young nurse he falls in love with and defend himself from another nurse that wants to do him harm. A cult horror classic that blends aspects of Psycho and Carrie together.
Roadgames (1981, Dir: Richard Franklin)
Stacy Keach is Patrick Quid an American truck driver working in Australia who becomes entangled in a mystery revolving around a serial killer who’s knocking women off across the territory. A brilliant road-thriller that mixes humor and suspense. Co-starring Jamie Lee Curtis.
Stone (1974, Dir: Sandy Harbutt)
When a mysterious assassin begins knocking off members of the Grave Diggers Motorcycle club, the police send in clean living, straight arrow Stone (Ken Shorter) to go undercover with the wild bikers and investigate. A legendary cult classic of the Ozploitation explosion. Co-starring Hugh Keays Byrne, Roger Ward, Helen Morse and Sandy Harbutt.
BMX Bandits (1983, Dir: Brian Trenchard-Smith)
While American audiences were loving movies like Spielberg’s E.T., Aussies had this fast moving action-comedy about a trio of teenage BMX enthusiasts (Angelo D’Angelo, James Lugton and Nicole Kidman) who get caught in the middle of a criminal organizations’ plan to rob a bank. The movie was inspired in large part by British films of the 50s and 60s that were aimed at kids and their parents.
Mad Dog Morgan (1976, Dir: Phillipe Mora)
Dennis Hopper stars in this film based on the life of 19th century bushranger Dan “Mad Dog” Morgan. Filmed during Hopper’s heavy substance abuse period, it is uneven on some levels but also a wild, wreckless adventure that portrays the controversial life of Morgan who was a Robin Hood to some and a Jesse James to others. Co-starring Jack Thompson, David Gulpilil, Graeme Blundell.
The FJ Holden (1977, Dir: Michael Thornhill)
Best mates Kevin (Paul Couzens) and Bob (Carl Stever) cruise around town in their FJ Holden trying to pick up girls. A very entertaining 70s Aussie version of American Graffiti about the freewheeling lifestyle of some young teenagers in Bankstown, New South Wales.
Fast Lane Fever (1982, Dir: John Clark)
A high octane action cult film about street racers Mike (Terry Serio) his best friend Tony (John Agius) who compete with Fox (Richard Moir) the top racer in New South Wales. Featuring some very cool supercharged musclecars such as the Ford Falcon GT-HO Phase III, Dodge Challenger and 57 Chevy Coupe. This is a perfect one for the gearheads.
Stork (1971, Dir: Tim Burstall)
Based on the play “The Coming of Stork”, Bruce Spence (The Road Warrior) plays Graham “Stork” Wallace, a very tall, geeky chap who loses his job at an auto plant and moves into a bachelor flat with hipsters Tony (Sean McEuan) and Clyde (Helmut Bakaitis) and their girlfriend Anna (Jacki Weaver). An early Ocker coming of age comedy that was hugely successful and a main part of the Aussie film revival.
Fair Game (1986, Dir: Mario Andreacchio)
A woman (Cassandra Delaney) who runs a wildlife preserve becomes the unwilling human prey for three kangaroo poachers who are looking for a new form of hunting. It’s I Spit On Your Grave done Australian style. Co-starring David Sandford, Garry Who, Don Barker.
Turkey Shoot (1982, Dir: Brian-Trenchard Smith)
A exciting dystopian survival-thriller that pits imprisoned social deviants against their captors. Three convicts: Chris Walters (Olivia Hussey) Rita Daniels (Lynda Stoner) and Paul Anders (Steve Railsback) are given a unique chance at regaining their freedom if they can evade some hunters in a human turkey shoot until sundown. Co-starring Roger Ward.
The Road Warrior (1981, Dir: George Miller)
Since losing his wife and child, ex-police officer Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) lives like a scavenger on the highways of the Outback. He soon gets caught up in another personal war when he comes upon a large fuel refinery that is the target of a new nomadic band of psycho marauders led by the hockey masked brute “Lord Humongus”. The stunts are ramped up to mindblowing levels and so are the stakes. This remains one of Australia’s greatest action genre movies.
Harlequin (1980, Dir: Simon Wincer)
A modern day version of Rasputin which focuses on Senator Nick Rast (David Hemmings) and his son (Mark Spain) who has leukemia. When a faith healer/magician named Gregory Wolfe (Robert Powell) shows up and seems to cure the boy, Rast’s wife Sandy (Carmen Duncan) falls in love with him. Rast’s political organization led by Doc Wheelan (Broderick Crawford) don’t hold the same view of Wolfe and consider him a threat. A strange blend of fantasy and political conspiracy thriller that’s a unique entry in the Ozploitation genre. TRIVIA: Originally written for David Bowie (Wolfe) and Orson Welles (Doc Wheelan).
Razorback (1984, Dir: Russell Mulcahey)
An eco-terror cult classic in the tradition of JAWS about a giant, maneating wild boar that wreaks havoc on citizens of the Outback. Shot in the area of Broken Hill, New South Wales and based on the novel by Peter Brennan. Starring Gregory Harrison, Arkie Whiteley, Bill Kerr, Chris Haywood, David Argue.
Deathcheaters (1976, Dir: Brian Trenchard-Smith)
Since leaving the war behind, two Vietnam vets Steve (John Hargreaves) and Rodney (Grant Page) work as stuntmen for TV programs. Due to their extensive commando backgrounds the government decides they are the perfect duo to infiltrate a Filipino island where a criminal boss is holding some secret documents they want retrieved. It’s a perfect “men on a mission” blend of stunts and adventure!
The Chain Reaction (1980, Dir: Ian Barry)
Released right around the same time as Mad Max, this film even has a similar theme along with American films like The China Syndrome in regards to the whole Nuclear-Apocalyptic storyline. You may notice there’s also an oddly similar look to some characters seen in Romero’s The Crazies (1973). Writer-Director Ian Barry didn’t have a very big budget to work with, but he did a great job making a film about ordinary people affected by something they have no control over. For extra help and to save time, Director George Miller (Mad Max) was brought on to shoot the film’s car chase sequences. These added an exciting edge to the film that it may not have had otherwise. Starring Steve Bisley, Anna Maria Winchester, Hugh Keays Byrne and Laura Lesley.
Long Weekend (1978, Dir: Colin Eggleston)
An Aussie couple Peter (John Hargreaves) and Marcia (Briony Behets) try to save their marriage by going camping. Soon after they arrive at the beach their mistreatment of nature and various wildlife causes dangerous repercussions. A suspenseful, atmospheric Eco-thriller in the tradition of Hitch’s The Birds.
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