When it comes to exploring unfamiliar territory in cinema, I’m always on board. So, when I heard about the documentary Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! (2008), I knew I should give it a watch. The film centers on the decidedly low-brow features produced within the Australian film industry during the 70’s and 80’s. Presented in a thoroughly entertaining manner, Not Quite Hollywood tells the story of exploitation cinema from the perspective of those who lived it. The film not only effectively educates its audience on a group of otherwise little-seen films, but also places them into cultural and historical perspective.
Conveniently, the film divides itself into three sections, each focusing on different genres. The first, Ockers, Knockers, Boobs, and Tubes, zones in on skin flicks and gross-out comedies. These films illustrate the loosening social mores of the time; shattering the boundaries of decency. They also gave Australians an opportunity to poke fun at themselves and other countries perceptions of the Outback. The second segment, Comatose Killers and Outbreak Chillers, focuses on suspense and horror films. Ranging from the ridiculous to the insane, this segment films I won’t soon forget. They may be trash, but you can’t turn your eyes away. From there, the third segment, High Octane Disasters and Kung Fu Masters, covers action films. Shot practically and on low budgets, you’ll likely never witness stuntwork as dangerous as you see in these films. As an actor, you know you’re in trouble when the crew shoots live ammunition toward you! Plus, the Aussie car chases are probably some of the best put to film.
The commentators of Not Quite Hollywood provide the film with one of its biggest assets. As with most talking-head documentaries, the commentators can make or break the film. Luckily, Not Quite Hollywood features some engaging interviewees telling captivating stories. A wide range of experts provide their thoughts, mostly writers, directors, actors, producers, and stuntmen involved in Ozploitation filmmaking. Their enthusiasm and passion for the work on display becomes immediately evident as they tell many entertaining, often outrageous, anecdotes. Even Quentin Tarantino joins in on the fun as he once again proves his cinema expertise. These stories easily create a contagious sense of excitement that I couldn’t resist.
Adding to the sense of excitement is the level of filmmaking on display from director Mark Hartley. He kicks things into high gear with some fast-paced editing, often times set to some adrenalin-pumping tunes. Also, a fair amount of graphics seamlessly incorporate themselves into the mix, helping create transitions and punctuation to the already in-your-face movie clips. With these skillful aesthetic choices the film moves at a quick pace, and, before you know it, the 105 minute runtime comes to an end. And although the subject matter is thoroughly covered, I wouldn’t have minded some additional material. I suppose that signals the mark of an effective documentary – give audiences enough to chew on, but also leave them wanting to explore a bit more on their own.
Not Quite Hollywood will provide movie buffs and genre film enthusiasts a plethora of previously unknown films to enjoy. Yes, the content will turn many (perfectly sensible) people away, but for those adventurous enough, these films will provide viewers with something completely different. The kinetic style and great storytelling make Not Quite Hollywood a quality documentary worth seeking out.