Overall | The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (Umbrella, Single Disc) (1972) | The Naked Bunyip (1970) | Turkey Shoot (Escape 2000) (1981) | Roadgames (1981) | Harlequin (1980) | Night of Fear (1972) | Inn of the Damned (1974)

Oz-ploitation-Volume 1 (1970)

Oz-ploitation-Volume 1 (1970)

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Released 3-Nov-2008

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Overall Package

    An excellent assortment of trash and treasure from the 10BA heyday of the late 1970s to early 1980s. This is a diverse bunch of flicks, featuring a little comedy (intentional and otherwise), action, thrills, spills and boobs. The closest thing to a dud here is Turkey Shoot, but even that is a so-bad-its-good classic that most folks would have more fun watching than any of the last decade's AFI winners.

    The only thing to grumble about here is the lack of fast cars, although a decently paced truck is on offer in Roadgames...

    Fans of Aussie films from the time they were worthy of fandom, from when they were actually fun, will love this collection and the price is unlikely to hurt many wallets.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (Umbrella, Single Disc) (1972) | The Naked Bunyip (1970) | Turkey Shoot (Escape 2000) (1981) | Roadgames (1981) | Harlequin (1980) | Night of Fear (1972) | Inn of the Damned (1974)

The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (Umbrella, Single Disc) (1972)

The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (Umbrella, Single Disc) (1972)

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Released 18-Jan-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Introduction-Dame Edna Everage
Theatrical Trailer-The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie
CD-ROM-Screenplay of the film - PDF
Trailer-Umbrella Propaganda
Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1972
Running Time 108:33 (Case: 101)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Bruce Beresford
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Barry Crocker
Barry Humphries
Spike Milligan
Peter Cook
Paul Bertram
Dennis Price
Avice Landone
Mary Anne Severne
Jenny Tomasin
Dick Bentley
Julie Covington
Judith Furse
Christopher Malcolm
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music Peter Best
David McKay


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.70:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   At the beginning of the nineteen seventies the Australian film industry was virtually non-existent. The small amount of film being produced was basically the product of foreign studios, so our identity as a nation was not being fully explored on the big screen. How fitting then that one of the key films to spark the rebirth of our local film industry, chose to heavily satirise and exploit the Australian "ocker" image, together with our love-hate relationship with mother England - that film was The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie.

    The idea for the film came from a comic strip created by Barry Humphries and illustrated by Nicholas Garland. Titled, Aussie In Pommieland, the strip was published in the British magazine, Private Eye and told the tale of an aussie, Barry McKenzie and his adventures in the mother country.

    Barry Humphries and Bruce Beresford met in London during the early sixties and the pair formed a friendship. At the time, Beresford was working with the British Film Institute, but was keen on returning to Australia to make films. Around this time, Beresford had already written a small screenplay partly based on the comic strip, but could not find anyone interested in producing the film.

    When he quit the BFI and returned to Australia, Beresford met up with the then, chairman of the new Film & Television Board, Phillip Adams. Adams was also a good friend of Barry Humphries and was very keen to establish a film project. Between the three, it was decided that the time was right to make a film that was distinctly Australian. So while Adams chased the funds, Beresford and Humphries adapted a screenplay based on the comic strip.

    Renowned singer and entertainer, Barry Crocker was cast in the lead role due to his uncanny likeness to the comic strip Barry McKenzie. Barry Humphries also managed to snare many big name British actors and comedians to appear in small or cameo roles. Indeed, the behind-the-scenes story of the film is fascinating and is well documented on the second disc in this DVD presentation.

    Barry's adventures are told in a somewhat episodic manner, much of which might push the boundaries of decency for some people. The films foundations are heavily based on the use of colloquialisms; this not only gives the film its unique character, but also much of its humor.

    Barry "Bazza" McKenzie (Barry Crocker) inherits two thousand dollars from a relative on the condition that he travels to England immediately to further the cultural and intellectual traditions of the McKenzie dynasty. Against Barry's wishes, his aunt, Edna Everage (Barry Humphries) decides to chaperone him on the journey.

    On their arrival in London, Barry can't wait to meet up with an old friend, Curly (Paul Bertram). It isn't long before the Brits have Bazza's back up, when the taxi ride from Heathrow Airport costs a whopping sixty-eight quid.

    After being shown to his dingy room by the landlord (Spike Milligan), Curly and Barry go to Earls Court. Here, they meet up with a myriad of ex-pat Aussies, all of whom are hell bent on drinking as much Fosters as possible, all the while, bagging the Poms.

    Barry is noticed in the pub by an advertising director, Groove Courtney (Jonathan Hardy), who convinces him to be in a TV commercial for High Camp cigarettes. This leads to an unexpected and misguided fling with his co-star, Caroline Thighs (Maria O'Brien).

    Aunty Edna takes Barry to visit acquaintances from the war years. Mr.and Mrs.Gort (Dennis Price & Avice Landone) are secretly excited by the prospect of Barry being a possible good match for their only daughter, Sarah (Jenny Tomasin). Aunty Edna holds similar hopes that Barry might move into the aristocracy. While good impressions are made on both sides, Mr.Gort brings it all undone, when he invites Barry into his den.

    On the road, Barry meets up with some hippies who become quite impressed with Barry's unique brand of bawdy songs. They conspire to exploit Barry's music and make large amounts of money based on his naivety.

    Aunt Edna introduces Barry to Lesley (Mary Ann Severne), who is the daughter of her bridesmaid, Madge Allsop. Lesley has recently split with her BBC producer husband, Dominic (Peter Cook) and as Barry soon discovers, she is a lesbian. Dominic invites Barry to participate in a live discussion on a BBC television programme. A misunderstanding causes Barry to expose himself on national TV, which also starts an unfortunate chain of events - nothing that plenty of good ol' Fosters can't fix. To avoid any further embarrassment, Aunty Edna and Barry board a Qantas flight back to Australia.

    On its release, The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie was unanimously panned by the critics, who didn't much appreciate Barry's wild antics. However, this was certainly no barrier to audiences, who simply devoured the film, making Bazza McKenzie somewhat of a local legend. The success of the film also spawned a sequal in 1974 with, Barry McKenzie Holds His Own. A third Barry McKenzie film was later considered, but was never made.

    If you want an escape from the restrictions of current day political correctness, then you simply can't go past The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Although not exactly pristine, I doubt that The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie has looked better in any format.

    Although the cover slick claims an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the film is actually presented in a ratio of 1.70:1, which is 16x9 enhanced. According to The National Film and Sound Archive, the films correct aspect ratio is 1.85:1.

    Generally speaking, this brand new restored print exhibits decent levels of sharpness and clarity throughout. There are a few moments in the film, which display minor levels of film grain. This is no doubt inherent in the source material and is not at all problematic. Blacks were generally clean and noise free. Shadows held an excellent degree of detail.

    Colours have been nicely restored. They appear beautifully balanced on the screen, with no adverse issues regarding over-saturation.

    There were no MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Apart from a couple of instances of very minor telecine wobble during the first couple of minutes of the film, film-to-video artefacts were reasonably scarce. Film artefacts appeared occasionally in the form of light marks and scratches, but thankfully these were not of an annoying nature. Unobtrusive, reel change markings appear briefly at approximate twenty-minute intervals, with the first two evident at 19:44 and 19:51.

    Unfortunately, there are no subtitles available with this edition.

    This DVD is a single sided, dual layer disc. The layer change occurs at 71:29 and is reasonably well placed within the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is very good and well suited to the film.

    There is one audio track available on the DVD, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

    Dialogue quality was excellent throughout. I had no problems hearing and comprehending any of the dialogue.

    There were no noticeable adverse issues with audio sync.

    The original music score by Peter Best suits the mood and content of the film very well, with additional music supplied by David McKay. The original score includes a couple of bawdy ballads, which are sung by Barry Crocker in the film. The lyrics to these little ditties were written by Barry Humphries. The film's theme song, The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie, is sung by the late Smacka Fitzgibbon.

     The surround channels were not used.

     The subwoofer was a minor player, kicking in during music and the rare bass effect.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Umbrella also has a two-disc Collector's Edition available, which has a fantastic collection of quality extras. This single disc edition is a far more basic presentation.

Menu

    The menu is quite basic. It is static; 16x9 enhanced and features a sample of Old Pacific Sea, which is a song from the film.

 

Dame Edna Introduction (4:44)

   This recent introduction to The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie from Dame Edna Everage was produced for the Showtime channel.

Theatrical Trailer

    The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie (2:16)

DVD Rom - Original Film Script

    The entire film screenplay in a 125-page PDF document.

Umbrella Trailers

  • The Great Macarthy(3.35)
  • The Naked Bunyip (1.03)
  • Blankety Blanks (0:32)
  • Barry McKenzie Hold His Own (1:10

     

     

    R4 vs R1

    NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

        At the time of this review, there is no R1 version of The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie available.

        There is however a previous bare bones local release of the film that is still available. This is not 16x9 enhanced and by all reports the transfer is also quite poor. It is therefore worth making sure you have the correct edition before purchasing.

        There is also a UK, all region version of the film available from Guerilla Films. However, this is also non-anamorphic, contains only a theatrical trailer and a brief interview with Barry Humphries.

        This all region, single disc edition and the two-disc Collector's Edition from Umbrella are both clear winners on all fronts.

    Summary

         The Adventures Of Barry McKenize finally gets the transfer it deserves. Like it or not, the film played a key role in the resurrection of the Australian film industry during the early seventies and helped local filmmakers to define an identity on the cinema screen.

        The transfers are both very good.

        The selection of extras on offer in this edition is only basic.

     

     

     

  • Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Saturday, February 07, 2009
    Review Equipment
    DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
    DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
    Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
    AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
    SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

    Other Reviews NONE
    Comments (Add) NONE
    Overall | The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (Umbrella, Single Disc) (1972) | The Naked Bunyip (1970) | Turkey Shoot (Escape 2000) (1981) | Roadgames (1981) | Harlequin (1980) | Night of Fear (1972) | Inn of the Damned (1974)

    The Naked Bunyip (1970)

    The Naked Bunyip (1970)

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    Released 24-May-2005

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    Details At A Glance

    General Extras
    Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
    Featurette-A Funny Sort Of Way
    Deleted Scenes
    Audio-Only Track-'Let's Make Love'
    Gallery-Photo
    Theatrical Trailer
    Trailer-Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, Don's Party
    Rating Rated M
    Year Of Production 1970
    Running Time 139:00
    RSDL / Flipper RSDL (86:16) Cast & Crew
    Start Up Menu
    Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By John B. Murray
    Studio
    Distributor
    Nat. Film & Sound
    Umbrella Entertainment
    Starring John B. Murray
    Ray Taylor
    Graeme Blundell
    Barry Humphries
    Harry M. Miller
    Russell Morris
    Malcolm Muggeridge
    Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
    RPI $29.95 Music None Given


    Video Audio
    Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
    Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
    16x9 Enhancement No
    Video Format 576i (PAL)
    Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
    Jacket Pictures Yes
    Subtitles None Smoking Yes
    Annoying Product Placement No
    Action In or After Credits No

    NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

    Plot Synopsis

        This movie has been cited as the foundation stone of the resurgence of the Australian film industry during the 1970s. In an era when few local films were made, a group of people decided not only to produce a film but to distribute it themselves. Instead of a fictional work they decided on a part-documentary that explored something that would once not have been discussed in a public forum except in purely clinical terms: sexuality.

        The Naked Bunyip is a long series of interviews and documentary footage with a fictional framing device. A market research company sends 24 year old virgin Graeme (Graeme Blundell) onto the streets of Melbourne to research attitudes towards sex. Initially he goes door to door to survey the sexual attitudes of the suburban housewife. And don't you know it, the first door he knocks on opens to reveal Edna Everage, who answers his questions in a most amusing manner.

        The rest of the film features interviews with various doctors, artists' models, female impersonators, wowsers, prostitutes, politicians, single mothers, gays, lesbians and so forth giving a picture of what Australia was like in 1970, all interspersed with voice-over narration and slapstick comedy sequences by Graeme. Blundell plays this in the sort of character we later got to know from the Alvin Purple films. The movie is also notable for several of the interviewees who were perhaps less well known then than now, for example John Button and Carlotta. There's also an amusing appearance from Barry Jones, and the director of a "sexy" toothpaste commercial is none other than a young Fred Schepisi.

        In 1970 the censor held sway in a much stronger way than today, and despite intense lobbying by the director and producers the censor insisted on cuts, both to the visuals and to the soundtrack. Some were because of prurience and at least one was insisted on for legal reasons, the material being sub judice. Instead of simple cutting the material, the filmmakers cleverly decided simply to replace the offending images with drawings by Peter Russell-Clarke (later a celebrity chef) with the sound intact, or to replace the audio with bleeps and leave the vision as it was. This highlighted to audiences what was being removed, which probably led to them imagining far worse things than were actually taken out.

        While overlong, this film is entertaining not so much as an expose of the sexual underbelly of Australia, but more as a time capsule of attitudes towards sexuality, gender roles and society as they were at the dawn of the permissive society. It's fascinating to see, and this DVD package also contains some excellent extras. It's well worth seeking out.

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    Transfer Quality

    Video

        The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The original was probably shot in 1.37:1, and it looks like a lot of the footage was shot in 16mm.

        The film includes both colour and black and white footage. None of it looks pristine, especially the location footage, which is quite grainy and as stated above looks like 16mm material. The transfer is quite sharp and clear, but I could not say that there was a fine level of detail. There is enough for undistracted viewing. Contrast levels are acceptable.

        The colour footage looks its age, with less than accurate flesh tones and not much in the way of vivid colour on display. Given the technical state of the Australian film industry at the time, one could not expect the highest quality and I'm sure most viewers will make the necessary allowances.

        There is some telecine wobble and occasional aliasing. The worst artefacts though are the film ones, with omnipresent white flecks, dirt and scratches. It appears that little or no attempt was made to clean the print material up. It is only slightly distracting and in fact adds to the appeal of the film.

        There are no subtitles. The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer change disruptively positioned at 86:16.

    Video Ratings Summary
    Sharpness
    Shadow Detail
    Colour
    Grain/Pixelization
    Film-To-Video Artefacts
    Film Artefacts
    Overall

    Audio

        The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0, which is mono of course.

        The audio is acceptable. There is some hiss and distortion, but I did not find any problems with the dialogue. Most people will be able to listen to this without distraction.

        There is a music score which seems to consist solely of a terrible song called Let's Make Love which gets repeated ad nauseam. The lyricist must have thought rhyming "wool clip" with "sheep dip" was a good idea.

    Audio Ratings Summary
    Dialogue
    Audio Sync
    Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
    Surround Channel Use
    Subwoofer
    Overall

    Extras

    Main Menu Audio

        The audio is music from the soundtrack.

    Featurette-A Funny Sort Of Way (28:31)

        This excellent documentary revisits the genesis, production and reception of the film with director John B. Murray and producer Phillip Adams, and has recent interviews with some of the people who appeared in the film, including Blundell, Jones and Button. Nobody takes themselves too seriously yet they cogently argue for the film's place in Australian cinema history, and watching this adds a great deal to one's appreciation of the film. Most amusing is the recollection of the press conference which Barry Humphries held during the censorship dispute, where he ridiculed the chief censor, who only had one arm. Humphries said that "Prowse would give his right arm to be here with me today" and that they stood "shoulder to shoulder". Err, ahem.

    Deleted Scenes (6:43)

        This sequence shows several of the scenes that the censor insisted on deleting, with some of the surrounding footage that was not cut or bleeped to give it context. A drawing of a bunyip appears on screen during the excised material. All pretty tame by today's standards.

    Audio-Only Track-'Let's Make Love' (13:12)

        This is a scratchy transfer of the 45rpm vinyl record that was released with the interminable theme song, on the Bunyip label (BUN 069 was the catalogue number, of course). The first side contained audio excerpts from the soundtrack, and the second side the complete song. Both sides are played one after the other.

    Gallery-Photo (1:24)

        A series of black and white production stills.

    Theatrical Trailer (1:10)

        A vintage trailer for the film, made in 16mm and never used.

    Trailer-Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, Don's Party (3:00)

        Trailer for other similar releases from Umbrella.

    Censorship

        There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

    R4 vs R1

    NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

        This movie is only available in Region 4 at the moment.

    Summary

        Seminal (groan) Aussie documentary about sexuality, which is entertaining for many reasons even 35 years later.

        The video quality is not the best but still watchable.

        The audio quality is acceptable.

        A good range of extras.

    Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
    Monday, July 11, 2005
    Review Equipment
    DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
    DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
    Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
    AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
    SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

    Other Reviews NONE
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    Overall | The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (Umbrella, Single Disc) (1972) | The Naked Bunyip (1970) | Turkey Shoot (Escape 2000) (1981) | Roadgames (1981) | Harlequin (1980) | Night of Fear (1972) | Inn of the Damned (1974)

    Turkey Shoot (Escape 2000) (1981)

    Turkey Shoot (Escape 2000) (1981)

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    Released 10-Sep-2003

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    Details At A Glance

    General Extras
    Category Action Main Menu Audio
    Featurette-Blood and Thunder memories
    Featurette-A Good Soldier, with Brian Trenchard-Smith (Director)
    Theatrical Trailer
    Trailer-Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, Rock ' N' Roll High School
    Trailer-Kentucky Fried Movie, Puberty Blues
    Rating Rated M
    Year Of Production 1981
    Running Time 89:31 (Case: 93)
    RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
    Start Up Menu
    Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Brian Trenchard-Smith
    Studio
    Distributor

    Madman Entertainment
    Starring Steve Railsback
    Olivia Hussey
    Lynda Stoner
    Michael Craig
    Noel Ferrier
    Carmen Duncan
    Roger Ward
    Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
    RPI $29.95 Music Brian May


    Video Audio
    Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
    Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
    16x9 Enhancement
    16x9 Enhanced
    Video Format 576i (PAL)
    Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
    Jacket Pictures No
    Subtitles None Smoking Yes
    Annoying Product Placement Yes
    Action In or After Credits No

    NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

    Plot Synopsis

    "Hunting is the national sport...and people are the prey"
     
        In an age of technological achievement, mankind has yet to change. It is the end of the 20th Century, 1995, and society is regulated and controlled by a brutal and ruthless dictatorship that commands obedience of all subjects. Those who refuse to conform are hunted down and imprisoned in re-education camps where the errant behaviour of the malcontents can be curbed and the disobedient can be made into model citizens...or so it is assumed.

        Paul Anders is a freedom fighter. Having escaped and evaded capture numerous times, Anders (Steve Railsback) has again been captured while broadcasting on an underground radio station. His message: Freedom. But his broadcast is cut short as police raid his broadcast location and take him into custody. Frustrated at the lack of control they are able to exert on Anders, the leaders of the regime decided to place the rebel in their most heavily guarded maximum security facility. Watched over with zealous dedication by Camp Master Thatcher (Michael Craig), this is a different type of camp and the rules are strict and refusal to comply is met with instant and severe consequences. While Anders has escaped from numerous installations, this one is very much a different place. The camp is surrounded with high fences topped with razor wire. There are automated machine gun turrets that can track a person with lightning speed. There are dozens of guards with dogs that can quickly track even the fastest of escapees. And the camp is located in a remote region of the country far from any civilization. It's the end of the road for all who enter, and Anders has just been introduced to his new home.

        Also transferred to this maximum security camp are Chris Walters (Olivia Hussey) and Rita Daniels (Lynda Stoner), two women caught up in the repression of society. The new camp inmates are quickly initiated into the horrific nature of the camp when a sadistic guard beats a female prisoner to death for a seemingly trifling matter. But if the new inmates think that this is as bad as it gets, they are in for a shock as Camp Master Thatcher has much more planned for the new prisoners. Thatcher proposes a deal to the new inmates: lead a party on a chase across the countryside. Escape capture until sunset and freedom is assured. Be captured and...well, you have some idea. Each of the new inmates is given a new society security pass that would ensure them safe travel within the government controlled cities. All they have to do is evade capture. Taking part in the hunt is weapons designer and horseback riding expert Jennifer (Carmen Duncan), government official Secretary Mallory (Noel Ferrier) and Tito (Michael Petrovitch). Each hunter is assigned an escapee to hunt and poaching another's prey is strongly discouraged. Each prisoner is given a head start, but each leaves at half hour intervals, therefore denying the prisoners the ability to band together for help.

        With the fugitives on the run, the hunters begin their sadistic games of cat and mouse to their barbaric and bloody conclusions. But while Camp Master Thatcher has this planned as just a 'turkey shoot', Paul Anders has another idea in mind and with the timid Chris in tow, the pair may just be able to turn the tables on their pursuers and make the hunters the hunted!

        I used to love to go to the video store as a kid. It was the early 80s and the advent of the Betamax (and later VHS) opened a veritable cornucopia of film all on tap whenever you wanted it. It was great to have such a large selection of films available. The thing was, I didn't want to watch the Academy Award Classics, I wanted the spatter. Sure you could get the classics like North by Northwest, The Godfather and Citizen Kane, but who needed that when you could get The Bronx Warriors, My Bloody Valentine, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Basket Case? It is in the spirit of these...lesser classics that we get this film. Filmed in Queensland in the early 1980s, this production had some promise. This, unfortunately, was never to eventuate.

         While the production was commissioned with a reasonable budget (just over $3,000,000), things began to go haywire as more than $700,000 was pulled from the budget after a backer withdrew their funding. This meant that the film's opening 12 to 15 pages had to be cut. These first script pages set the stage for the whole film and were meant to highlight the repressive and dictatorial regime that ruled society, but because of the budget cuts these opening scenes were far too expensive to film. The result is that the film effectively begins in the camp with little exposition as to the methods and motivations that necessitate the camp in the first place. Also showing the lack of dollars is the paltry number of extras which for the camp should have numbered around 200 but was more like 70 and at times as low as 20. This dramatic cutting of the budget had an effect on the film's director Brian Trenchard-Smith as well as some of the cast. Olivia Hussey also had some issues, though these had more to do with shooting location and her continual fear of the various nasties that Far North Queensland might throw her way. Lynda Stoner also made things interesting for the production with her refusal to 'get naked' for some shots as well as her fanatical and evangelistic espousal of radical animal rights. All of these pressures coupled with the cut budget and a director under pressure from producers to make more and more from less and less made for a less than ideal filmmaking environment.

        Fronting the film was the up and coming Steve Railsback. Fresh from his success in the much applauded film The Stunt Man the year before, Steve had come with his intense method acting and extreme behaviour that put some of the cast on edge. Having a major American star in the film surely would be a real plus for the production, but this was unfortunately not enough to save the production. The film was quickly shot and released in Australia, the U.K. and America. While the Australian and American theatrical reaction was fairly ordinary, the film garnered much popularity in the U.K. where it played to packed movie houses in the middle of winter. Now, over 20 years on, this film finally makes its appearance on the small screen on DVD. For those in the U.S., this video release would be the first opportunity for many to see the film in its uncut gory glory as the U.S. version had almost 13 minutes of splatter taken out by the censors. For us in Australia, we have always had the uncut version available on video (but I'll bet it had one of those 'Banned in Queensland' stickers on it) and now thanks to the discovery of a well preserved print of the film in the U.K. we can now 'enjoy' this film again.

        This is a real shocker, folks. As some of the cast later remarked on the production, you really have to see this film as a black comedy or farce to truly enjoy its over-the-top violence and gore. There isn't enough story here to make this a good film and instead it is just an excuse to see lots of horrific acts and scenes all strung together. Just like porn, there is a story, but it isn't the main focus and instead is a means to an end. Accept this and you might have some chance in getting something from the film, otherwise all you'll see is a real turkey.

     

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    Transfer Quality

    Video

        Due to the discovery of a good quality print in the U.K., we are able to have this film presented in a decent manner.

        This disc offers the film in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with the appropriate 16x9 enhancement.

        Considering the age of the print, the budget of the film and the limitations of the equipment of the time, the image we have on offer is quite reasonable. For the most part the image is perfectly sharp and clear with an acceptable level of detail visible. Some of the finer details in long distance shots is a bit lacking, but the film used originally was probably not the best quality available and the transfer to disc isn't of Superbit quality. Shadow detail is a bit ordinary, as can be seen at 4:16, but most of the film takes place in fairly well lit conditions so the lack of shadow detail isn't a real major issue. I found no problems with low level noise.

        The colour scheme for this film was intended to be natural, and this is what comes across. This was filmed in the early 80s, so we have the usual earthy influences in the colours seen with lots of browns, reds and tans. Countering this are the solid corporate greys that adorn the buildings, walls and costumes of the hunters in the film that stand in contrast to the fleshy yellow colours of the inmate's overalls. Colour's commitment to this disc is reasonable with decent quality available throughout. This image is just that little bit faded, but this looks to be an issue with the print and not the transfer to DVD.

        This film is transferred at an average bit rate of 4.45 Mb/s, which is adequate enough to provide a watchable image over the film's 90 minutes of running time. Had this film been of more recent vintage and the print of pristine quality, I would be much more harsh on the quality of image here. The fact that this film is an early 80s budget slasher special makes me go a bit softer. There is no outright macroblocking to be seen, just a slight pixelization from time to time coupled with a moderate level of film grain. There is an aliasing shimmer present from time to time, but it is not as prevalent as I might have expected. Depending on your display device, this may or may not be as noticeable as I found it, but it was held to a moderate level. The print used for the transfer is quite clean and only the occasional nick and fleck mar the image.
     
        There are no subtitles available on this disc.

        This disc is formatted single layered and as such, there is no layer change.

    Video Ratings Summary
    Sharpness
    Shadow Detail
    Colour
    Grain/Pixelization
    Film-To-Video Artefacts
    Film Artefacts
    Overall

    Audio

        This audio for this film is adequate, but far from top notch.

        This disc presents the film's soundtrack in English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded. This is the only audio option available on the disc.

        The dialogue quality in this film is fairly ordinary. The spoken word for the most part is understandable during the feature, but because of the limited budget and the technology available at the time, we get only an average quality audio mix here and as a result the intelligibility of the spoken word is workable but far from reference.
     
        The audio sync here is average with the sound being just that little bit out for most of the film. This is most notable with the spoken word, which seems just a fraction of a second out for most of the film. I got the impression that this film suffered from some terrible ADR, or that much of the film was re-dubbed post production for some unknown technical reason. This may not have been the case, but if it was then it would look like what we have here. It's not enough to ruin the film (it doesn't need any help), but it would have been nice to have the audio a bit more up to standard here.

        Music for this feature comes from the late film score composer Brian May. Brian will probably be remembered for his scores for Mad Max 1 and 2 as well as the 6th film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. This is a typical early 80s electronic keyboard 'WaahWaahWaah' sound that is a bit of a laugh now but probably sounded futuristic at the time. A fairly ordinary score that nonetheless serves the film well.

        This disc offers only a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix and the only surround sound available is what your processor is able to derive from it. Using even the most advanced processing will only yield a limited atmospheric sound and the LFE content is also fairly light-on.

    Audio Ratings Summary
    Dialogue
    Audio Sync
    Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
    Surround Channel Use
    Subwoofer
    Overall

    Extras

        There are a few interesting extras here, but the disc is in no way bursting at the seams.

    Menu

        After the usual copyright warnings and distributor's logos, we are taken to the disc's Main Menu which offers us the following:     The menus are 16x9 enhanced with the Main Menu featuring audio from the film's soundtrack in Dolby Digital 2.0.

        Selecting the Extras icon brings up the following options:

    Blood and Thunder Memories Cast Interview Featurette   -   23:46

        In the absence of an audio commentary (as is available on the Region 1 disc), this is the best look at the production from those most involved in the making of the film. Here we have Michael Craig, Roger Ward and Lynda Stoner talking about their experience in filming Turkey Shoot and how the reduction of the film's budget affected the production. Some of the film's main stars are missing from this interesting look back (Steve Railsback and Olivia Hussey are nowhere to be seen), but this is still a very interesting look at the making of the film. This featurette is presented in 1.85:1 with 16x9 enhancement. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0.

    A Good Soldier - Director Featurette   -   9:48

        This is an interview with the film's director Brian Trenchard-Smith, who has been responsible for films such as BMX Bandits (featuring a very young Nicole Kidman), Atomic Dog and Media: The Omega Code 2. Brian has found his niche in the filmmaking world and here he explains how he did the best with what little the producers of the film allowed him to do. This featurette is presented in 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Theatrical Trailer   -   2:40

        Despite this film being titled Escape 2000 in the U.S., the original trailer describes the setting for the film as being in 1995. This is a fairly long trailer that covers the subject matter well and gives the viewer a real taste as to what to expect (not much). This image is a bit washed out and the colours (especially the flesh tones) are not quite right, but it is still interesting to see how the film was marketed. This feature is presented in 2.35:1 without 16x9 enhancement. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    Umbrella Propaganda

        Selecting this icon offers 4 trailers for films on offer from Umbrella Entertainment.

    Barry McKenzie Holds his Own - Theatrical Trailer    1:12

        An interesting trailer featuring Barry Crocker and Dame Edna Everage talking about the film. Presented full frame with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    Rock 'n Roll High School - Theatrical Trailer   -   2:09

        Trailer for the 1979 film featuring the Ramones. Looks fairly ordinary. Presented in 2.35:1 without 16x9 enhancement. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    Kentucky Fried Movie - Theatrical Trailer   -   2:22

        A very, very guilty pleasure this film is. Actually, stuff it. I'm not guilty and I'll count this as one of my favourites, along with Amazon Women on the Moon and The Groove Tube. A great fun film filled with great stupid fun. The trailer is presented in 2.35:1 without 16x9 enhancement. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Puberty Blues - Theatrical Trailer   -   2:12

        Trailer for the 1981 Bruce Beresford film. Nostalgia for an entire generation, and it's all here. Presented in 2.35:1, non 16x9 enhanced with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Censorship

        There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

    R4 vs R1

    NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

         This title was release in U.S. Region 1 as Escape 2000 (the film takes place in 1995?!?) on October 21, 2003 by Anchor Bay Entertainment. Sadly, the Anchor Bay release is far superior to that which has been afforded Region 4, the film's native country.

         The Region 4 version misses out on:

         The Region 1 version misses out on:

         There is no need for debate here. By far the most desirable of versions is the Region 1 U.S. disc with the commentary being a real highlight. As the first 12 to 15 pages of the film's script were cut out, I for one would have liked to have seen the original screenplay that might have shed some light what was cut out of the final filming schedule. Coupled with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and a Director's Commentary and you can easily make up your mind. It would have to be the Region 1 U.S. disc, hands down.

    Summary

         The title says it all, and you can see the quality on the front cover. Turkey Shoot or just plain Turkey? It's for you to decide. It will be better if you are a fan of early 80s video titles as it is probably the best light you will ever see this film in. Missed the era and want to see what your parents grew up on? Have a look...at your peril. Don't say I didn't warn you.

         The video is okay with a newly discovered 16x9 print of the original cut of the film.

         The audio is fairly ordinary with sound that seems to have been dubbed post production.

         The extras are okay with an interesting behind the scenes featurette available.

    Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
    Sunday, November 16, 2003
    Review Equipment
    DVDPanasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output
    DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. This display device is 16x9 capable.
    Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts.
    AmplificationYamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio
    SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts (bi-wired), VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Dub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

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    Comments (Add) NONE
    Overall | The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (Umbrella, Single Disc) (1972) | The Naked Bunyip (1970) | Turkey Shoot (Escape 2000) (1981) | Roadgames (1981) | Harlequin (1980) | Night of Fear (1972) | Inn of the Damned (1974)

    Roadgames (1981)

    Roadgames (1981)

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    Released 27-Sep-2004

    Cover Art

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    Details At A Glance

    General Extras
    Category Thriller Main Menu Audio
    Audio Commentary-Director
    Featurette-Making Of-Kangaroo Hitchcock
    Gallery-Promo Images and Posters
    Storyboards
    Theatrical Trailer
    Trailer-Long Weekend, Harlequin, Turkey Shoot
    Rating Rated M
    Year Of Production 1981
    Running Time 100:38
    RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:01) Cast & Crew
    Start Up Language Select Then Menu
    Region Coding 4 Directed By Richard Franklin
    Studio
    Distributor

    Umbrella Entertainment
    Starring Stacy Keach
    Jamie Lee Curtis
    Marion Edward
    Grant Page
    Thaddeus Smith
    Alan Hopgood
    John Murphy
    Bill Stacey
    Robert Thompson
    Colin Vancao
    Case Amaray-Transparent
    RPI ? Music Brian May


    Video Audio
    Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
    English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
    Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
    16x9 Enhancement
    16x9 Enhanced
    Video Format 576i (PAL)
    Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
    Jacket Pictures No
    Subtitles None Smoking Yes, barely
    Annoying Product Placement No
    Action In or After Credits No

    NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

    Plot Synopsis

        Quid (Stacy Keach) is a long haul driver who fancies himself as a learned man, "I may drive a truck, but I'm not a Truck Driver" being his motto. Keeping him company on the road is his trusty dingo, to whom he verbalises all manner of flights of fancy to keep his job from boring him to death. Every motorist he passes is given a label and has a story made up about their lives based on the moments Quid can see through their window. Sneezy Rider, Captain Careful, and the "frugal" family being some of the many folks he labels in his travels.

        Sleeping in his truck one night before a long haul across the Nullarbor, towing meat from Melbourne to Perth, Quid notices a van driver (Grant Page) pull into a hotel with a hitchhiker he had seen along the road in his previous day's travels. At an unusually early hour of the morning the next day he notices the stranger peering out the window, keeping an eye on the garbage outside the hotel. When an unwanted hitchhiker lets him know about reports of a serial killer on the highways, Quid begins to think the van driver may be that killer. His suspicions are raised further each time he passes the van driver, who always seems to be doing something suspicious and is carefully guarding an esky - one that in Quid's mind could well contain the remains of a certain hitchhiker.

        Along the way, Quid picks up a hitchhiker (Jamie Lee Curtis) who he nicknames "Hitch" (an obvious homage to Alfred Hitchcock whose influence is visible throughout the film). She happily discusses the how, where and why of the possibility that the van driver is indeed a serial killer in between all manner of time-wasting road trip games.

        As the days wear on and Quid becomes ever more tired from under sleeping and staring at the same road, he ultimately ends up raising suspicion that he is the killer and has to set out to prove his innocence.

        Director Richard Franklin cheerfully describes Roadgames as "Rear Window in a truck". That assessment is dead-on. Thankfully Roadgames doesn't just ape the Hitchcock classic, it adds its own unique dimension to the story, the confines and madness of the open road (building on the isolation themes of Rear Window), and that story is told remarkably well (arguably second only to Hitchcock's own storytelling). No surprises that Franklin followed Roadgames with the unexpectedly good Psycho II.

        The original marketing of Roadgames makes the film out to be yet another late 70s/early 80s slasher flick. Don't be fooled, this is one of the finest thrillers Australia has produced (possibly the finest, if it weren't for Long Weekend).

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    Transfer Quality

    Video

        The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

        The video looks good without being great. The video appears to have been converted to PAL from an NTSC source, as there is a slight judder to the image and interlacing artefacts can be seen if the video is paused. The image is a little soft throughout, which is likely due to it being interlaced and blown up from an NTSC to PAL resolution. Mild grain is present throughout the feature, though it is never distracting. The shadow detail in the video is fair, but far from great, and the many night time scenes look reasonable rather than great.

        The colours are a little bit pale throughout.

        There are no obvious compression artefacts visible in the transfer. There is, however, a mild telecine wobble visible at the start of the film. The print used for the transfer appears to be very clean. A handful of film artefacts are visible during the movie, though nothing bigger than a speck of dust.

        No subtitles are present for the feature.

        This is a RSDL disc. The layer break occurs at 57:01 but was not noticeable on my equipment.

    Video Ratings Summary
    Sharpness
    Shadow Detail
    Colour
    Grain/Pixelization
    Film-To-Video Artefacts
    Film Artefacts
    Overall

    Audio

        A single English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kbps) audio track is present for the film.

        The audio is quite soft, but well mixed - just at a low level. There are a few noticeable crackles during the loudest parts of the movie (such as at around 17:35), though they aren't terribly distracting. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand. There are no real problems with the audio sync, although post-recorded ADR looping is occasionally noticeable.

        The film features a great score from Australia's Brian May (no, not that one), which mixes harmonica into a full orchestral score to create a mood of isolation that would seem right at home in any western - a perfect feel for a long drive across the Nullarbor.

        There is no noticeable surround or subwoofer usage.

    Audio Ratings Summary
    Dialogue
    Audio Sync
    Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
    Surround Channel Use
    Subwoofer
    Overall

    Extras

    Audio Commentary with Director Richard Franklin

        An excellent commentary by Richard Franklin, recorded for the film's US release. With some prompting from the US DVD Producer, Franklin candidly discusses where Roadgames fits in the film financing puzzle, the production experience, the casting and how certain effects and shots were done. The commentary strikes an unusually good balance between the technical and the trivial, making it an engaging listen.

    Kangaroo Hitchcock Making Of Featurette (20:11)

        An excellent "Making Of" featurette, made for the film's DVD release, that covers the production experience (particularly interesting as this was the first Australian film pre-sold to a US distributor before filming began, which brought with it all manner of unusual production circumstances), the Hitchcock influence in the film, and the film's reception. The featurette includes plenty of recent interviews with the late Richard Franklin and Stacy Keach, who both appear to be relishing the opportunity to talk about the film.

    Posters and Stills Gallery

        A wide assortment of promotional stills and a couple of posters.

    Storyboards Gallery

        One of the many things Richard Franklin talks about in the making of was how he learnt the art of storyboarding, which was an unusual artefact for an Australian film at the time, by studying Alfred Hitchcock's production style. 6 of these storyboards, from the opening of the film, are presented here.

    Theatrical Trailer

        A sensationalist trailer that mismarkets the film as a slasher flick and also gives away a major component of the ending.

    Umbrella Trailers

        Trailers for other Aussie classics from the era, Harlequin, Turkey Shoot and Long Weekend.

    R4 vs R1

    NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

        The Region 1 Anchor Bay release features all the same extras found on the Region 4 release, save for the trailers for other films, and includes Talent Bios (which could just as easily be read from IMDB) and a PDF Copy of the Screenplay and Story Treatment. These PDFs put the Region 1 edition a nose ahead in comparison.

    Summary

        A true Australian classic. A Hitchcockian thriller set on a road in the middle of nowhere.

        The video transfer is reasonable, but at the same time a little disappointing in that it is a slightly fuzzy conversion form NTSC. The audio is limited by the original material, but sounds decent. The extras are good in number and well worthwhile.

    Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
    Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    Review Equipment
    DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
    Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
    Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
    AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
    Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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    Four Stars? - Eddie REPLY POSTED

    Overall | The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (Umbrella, Single Disc) (1972) | The Naked Bunyip (1970) | Turkey Shoot (Escape 2000) (1981) | Roadgames (1981) | Harlequin (1980) | Night of Fear (1972) | Inn of the Damned (1974)

    Harlequin (1980)

    Harlequin (1980)

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    Released 22-Oct-2004

    Cover Art

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    Details At A Glance

    General Extras
    Category Thriller Main Menu Audio
    Audio Commentary
    Trailer
    Rating Rated M
    Year Of Production 1980
    Running Time 91:11
    RSDL / Flipper RSDL (64:15) Cast & Crew
    Start Up Menu
    Region Coding 4 Directed By Simon Wincer
    Studio
    Distributor
    Umbrella
    Umbrella Entertainment
    Starring Robert Powell
    David Hemmings
    Carmen Duncan
    Broderick Crawford
    Gus Mercurio
    Alan Cassell
    Mark Spain
    Alyson Best
    Sean Myers
    Mary Simpson
    Bevan Lee
    Neville Teedy
    Mary Mackay
    Case Amaray-Transparent
    RPI ? Music Brian May


    Video Audio
    Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
    English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
    Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
    16x9 Enhancement
    16x9 Enhanced
    Video Format 576i (PAL)
    Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
    Jacket Pictures Yes
    Subtitles None Smoking Yes
    Annoying Product Placement No
    Action In or After Credits No

    NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

    Plot Synopsis

        Senator Nick Rast (David Hemmings) is a politician at the verge of securing great power in an ambiguous modern (well, as modern as a movie in 1980 gets) society (one where the inhabitants speak with a random assortment of American, English and Australian accents). The deputy Governor has disappeared under mysterious circumstances and the top dog, himself on his last legs, is poised to name Rast as his new second in command.

        Such great power has strained Rast's marriage, however, and the senator barely has time for his leukaemic son Alex (Mark Spain). Enter Gregory Wolfe (Robert Powell), a mysterious man who first encounters the family when he acts as a clown at young Alex's birthday party. He reappears shortly afterwards in the family home and professes to be a magician and faith healer who has rid Alex of his disease. As Alex rapidly shows signs of recovery, Wolfe become part of the family. He forms a particularly strong bond with Nick's wife Sandra (Carmen Duncan) and soon becomes a gossiped-about fixture in the family's public life.

        Nick's political backers, led by political puppet-master Doc Wheelan (Broderick Crawford), quickly begin to see Wolfe as a threat to their own influence and begin a treacherous tug-of-war for influence over Rast.

        Harlequin is loosely based on the story of Rasputin (try spelling Rast backwards for a real giveaway - subtlety obviously wasn’t screenwriter Everett De Roche’s strength). Erring a little more toward the legend than the truth, it weaves an engaging tale of deception, jealousy, corruption and murder. Gregory Wolfe, the character filling the shoes of the Mad Monk, remains an enigma throughout and Robert Powell outshines every other cast member with his vibrant performance in the role.

        The film wisely never firmly distinguishes whether the supernatural is afoot or whether Gregory is simply a masterful illusionist. Every other story element is firmly grounded. This juxtaposition between normal and supernatural drives the whole film and, along with a fair sense as to how far to push the plausibility of the whole affair, the movie manages to remain engaging throughout.

        Producer Antony Ginnane, Australia’s would-be Roger Corman, named Harlequin as his favourite of the films he produced during the Ozploitation era while recently promoting Not Quite Hollywood (which heavily showcases many of his productions). It is not too hard to see why even if you don’t entirely agree with the man. Harlequin is undoubtedly the most ambitious film Australia produced around its time and whilst it doesn't succeed entirely, it takes a commendable stab in the right direction.

        The film is an engaging political thriller that manages to be a good degree more intellectual than its peers without really sacrificing any of the immediate entertainment value and, despite a few obvious faults, it holds up surprisingly well today (thanks in part to it featuring fewer action scenes than many of its counterparts). To some extent, the movie has the air of being a token "serious" movie from the Ozploitation movement and it certainly treads a fine line between pulling off the tone and seeming just plain silly. Only the harshest of critics can really hold this against the movie, as despite its grand aspirations it wears its b-movie production values with pride.

        Most viewers won’t be as passionate about the film as its producer (though I’m sure that could be said about plenty of movies), but anyone that can enjoy a colourful political thriller will find this worthy viewing.

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    Transfer Quality

    Video

        The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced. It looks decent for a film from 1980, but could certainly use a bit more of a clean up.

        The image is reasonably sharp throughout, save for a few obvious optical effects shots (49:45 presents a prime example), and presents an accurate representation of the theatrical look of the film. Some of the darker scenes are a little grainy and could do with greater shadow depth, though most of the film looks fine.

        The colour in the video is a little musty and slightly pale, though this represents the b-movie look of the day fairly accurately.

        The film avoids any noticeable MPEG artefacts but a number of mechanical transfer-related artefacts are noticeable. Most noticeable is an abundance of film artefacts of varying size throughout the film. Most are small, but their number and frequency is moderately distracting. More disappointing is that a few scenes feature uneven brightness across the frame, most noticeably at 43:51 where a distinct light spillage is visible form the left of the frame. Slight telecine wobble is occasionally noticeable, mostly so in the credits.

        No subtitles are present for the feature.

        This is a RSDL disc. The layer break occurs at 64:15 but was not noticeable on my equipment.

    Video Ratings Summary
    Sharpness
    Shadow Detail
    Colour
    Grain/Pixelization
    Film-To-Video Artefacts
    Film Artefacts
    Overall

    Audio

        A single English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kbps) audio track is present for the film, which sounds to be mono or very close to (which would likely be true to the original audio of the film).

        The audio is somewhat disappointing. Beyond simply sounding its age, the levels in the mix are all over the place and there are quite a few points at which the dialogue is too quiet to easily make out. The audio sync is a little iffy, which may be a result of post-recording the dialogue. The child character in the film has almost certainly been dubbed by an adult.

        One of the standout aspects of the film is its great, over-the-top Brian May (no, not that one, the legendary Australian film composer). The full orchestral score does a good job of covering over some of the iffy moments in the story as well as accompanying it superbly. The score itself sounds fairly good in the mix and does not noticeably suffer from the unevenness of the dialogue and effects.

        There is no surround or subwoofer use.

    Audio Ratings Summary
    Dialogue
    Audio Sync
    Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
    Surround Channel Use
    Subwoofer
    Overall

    Extras

    Audio Commentary with Producer Antony I. Ginnane and Director Simon Wincer

        A bland and fairly sparse commentary from the director and the producer. The pair share a few interesting anecdotes on production and the actors involved, but the dry tone and dead air make this a dull listen.

    Theatrical Trailer

        An incredibly retro 1980 trailer, brimming with nonsensical shock and intrigue.

    Umbrella Trailers

        Trailers for other Ozploitaion-era flicks; the entertaining but silly Survivor, toothless vampire flick Thirst, perennial favourite Roadgames and the ever-underrated Long Weekend.

    R4 vs R1

    NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

        Harlequin was released as the rather more ambiguous Dark Forces in the USA and had a bare bones Region 1 DVD release some time back. It has recently been released again, this time by a company calle Synapse, in Region 1, with the same Dark Forces title, on a disc that includes the same extra features as the Region 4 release as well as filmographies and a photo gallery. The transfer on the new edition is purported to be cleaner than that on the Region 4 edition. The recent Synapse Region 1 edition appears to be the version of choice, though by a slim margin.

    Summary

        An ambitious political thriller, with a touch of the supernatural, from the heyday of 10BA and Ozploitation.

        The video transfer is fair, but far from reference material. The audio is a little uneven, with a little too much soft dialogue. The extras are slim.

    Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
    Tuesday, February 10, 2009
    Review Equipment
    DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
    Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
    Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
    AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
    Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

    Other Reviews NONE
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    Recent R1 Release - Anonymous REPLY POSTED

    Overall | The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (Umbrella, Single Disc) (1972) | The Naked Bunyip (1970) | Turkey Shoot (Escape 2000) (1981) | Roadgames (1981) | Harlequin (1980) | Night of Fear (1972) | Inn of the Damned (1974)

    Night of Fear (1972)

    Night of Fear (1972)

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    Released 16-Mar-2005

    Cover Art

    This review is sponsored by
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    Details At A Glance

    General Extras
    Category Horror Main Menu Audio
    Audio Commentary-Rod Hay (Producer) And Carla Hoogeveen(Actress)
    Gallery-Stills
    Theatrical Trailer
    Trailer-Long Weekend, Thirst, Turkey Shoot, Road Games
    Rating Rated M
    Year Of Production 1972
    Running Time 50:50
    RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
    Start Up Menu
    Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Terry Bourke
    Studio
    Distributor
    TerryRod
    Madman Entertainment
    Starring Norman Yemm
    Carla Hoogeveen
    Mike Dorsey
    Briony Behets
    Case ?
    RPI Box Music None Given


    Video Audio
    Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
    English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
    Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.70:1
    16x9 Enhancement
    16x9 Enhanced
    Video Format 576i (PAL)
    Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
    Jacket Pictures Yes
    Subtitles None Smoking No
    Annoying Product Placement No
    Action In or After Credits No

    NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

    Plot Synopsis

        Night of Fear is a short feature horror film which was originally made as the pilot to an ABC TV series called Fright. The series never got off the ground, but Night of Fear, having been shot on 35mm, ended up being released in cinemas. Well, that was after it was banned by the censors for indecency, a ban which was overturned on appeal.

        A young girl (Carla Hoogeveen) who has just spent an afternoon playing tennis and making love with a man (Mike Dorsey), gets accidentally run off the road by a truck. Ending up on a dead-end dirt road, her car gets stuck in a ditch, where she starts getting terrorised by a drooling, gibbering psycho (Norman Yemm), who also has a colony of rats.

        These days it's hard to see what the fuss was all about. There isn't anything really offensive about the movie and today it would probably get no more than an M rating, though the OFLC seems to have issues with horror scenes.

        The movie has no dialogue, the soundtrack consisting entirely of effects, music, screams and grunts. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the film is very effective, though it is obvious what is happening from quite early on and it isn't that scary. An eerie mood is well conveyed and the short running time means that there is little in the way of unnecessary padding.

        It was shot partly in the ABC studios and partly in the Kuringai Chase National Park, very familiar due to the sandy soil and light bushland. It was also amusing to see the truck used in the film was from Nuss Removals, whose vehicles I still see around on the roads over 30 years later. I'm sure this particular vehicle has long been retired.

        Also in the cast is Briony Behets, who plays another victim seen in a prologue sequence. Like the other actors in the film, she is probably best known for her work on television, being one of the stars of The Box. Hoogeveen starred in Class of '74, Yemm in Homicide and Dorsey had a featured role in Number 96.

        Something of a watershed in Australian film due to the controversy that attended its release, it has been little seen in decades and it is good to see it released with some care and in good condition.

        This film is included on a single disc with another production by director Terry Bourke and producer Rod Hay (Terryrod Productions), Inn of the Damned, made two years later. That film will be reviewed separately.

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    Transfer Quality

    Video

        The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.70:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. I'm unsure about the original aspect ratio, though it may have been 1.66:1, a common ratio for non-American films of the era. In any case it does not seem to have been significantly cropped, if at all.

        This is an excellent transfer in terms of sharpness and detail. It looks like it is taken from a newly struck print and there is plenty of detail visible, though not so much in shadows (not that this is an issue). Contrast is very good and the transfer is bright and clear.

        Colours are a little saturated, but generally they are bright and vivid. Flesh tones tend to be a little ruddy, but in some sequences they are just about right. Black levels are good, though some low level noise is evident in some of the darker sequences.

        The only film to video artefacts present are aliasing, which is mainly confined to the vehicles in the first part of the film, and moiré, which can be seen on the grill of the girl's car. Film artefacts are limited to white specks indicating either print damage or dirt on the negative, most probably the latter. At some stages in the film the image is a jumpy, with the top part of the frame looking a bit wobbly, as though it was slightly warped. I did not notice this on the first viewing, but it became obvious while listening to the audio commentary.

        No subtitles are provided, not surprisingly given there is no dialogue.

        This disc is RSDL formatted, but the layer change occurs in the other feature on the disc.

    Video Ratings Summary
    Sharpness
    Shadow Detail
    Colour
    Grain/Pixelization
    Film-To-Video Artefacts
    Film Artefacts
    Overall

    Audio

        The main audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

        The audio is very good. Obviously there are no problems with dialogue and the music and sound effects come across clearly.

        Music is by an unnamed hand, possibly compiled from music in the ABC library. It is very effective, being one of those electronic-sounding scores that many horror films and TV shows had during the 1970s. I would not be surprised if a Moog synthesiser was used.

    Audio Ratings Summary
    Dialogue
    Audio Sync
    Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
    Surround Channel Use
    Subwoofer
    Overall

    Extras

    Audio Commentary with Rod Hay (producer) and Carla Hoogeveen (actress)

        Also on this audio commentary is Mark Hartley, who barely gets a word in edgewise. Hay talks a lot, almost non-stop and he gives a good account of the film's origins, the banning controversy and the success of the film when it was eventually released. Hoogeven also has things she wants to say, but often is not allowed to quite finish. It was amusing to hear her pleas to Hay to remove the dream sequence from the film and her stories of director Terry Bourke. An enjoyable commentary well worth listening to.

    Gallery-Stills

        An excellent stills gallery, which features a lot of contemporary news clippings and advertising material, even down to those little newspaper advertisements for screenings. The news clippings are mostly readable and reflect the coverage the film received when it was banned and afterwards.

    Theatrical Trailer (2:01)

        An effective trailer, not in the best of condition but it is 16x9 enhanced.

    Trailer-Long Weekend, Thirst, Turkey Shoot, Road Games (8:18)

    Trailers for other Umbrella releases.

    R4 vs R1

    NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

        As far as I can tell, this is the first DVD release anywhere, so there is no competition.

    Summary

        A good little low-budget horror film.

        The video quality is very good.

        The audio quality is very good.

        The extras are much more substantial than you would expect for a film of this type and age.

    Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
    Sunday, May 01, 2005
    Review Equipment
    DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
    DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
    Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
    AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
    SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

    Other Reviews NONE
    Comments (Add) NONE
    Overall | The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (Umbrella, Single Disc) (1972) | The Naked Bunyip (1970) | Turkey Shoot (Escape 2000) (1981) | Roadgames (1981) | Harlequin (1980) | Night of Fear (1972) | Inn of the Damned (1974)

    Inn of the Damned (1974)

    Inn of the Damned (1974)

    If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

    Released 16-Mar-2005

    Cover Art

    This review is sponsored by
    BUY IT

    Details At A Glance

    General Extras
    Category Horror Main Menu Audio
    Audio Commentary-Rod Hay (Producer) And Tony Bonner (Actor)
    Gallery-Stills
    Theatrical Trailer
    Trailer-Long Weekend, Thirst, Turkey Shoot, Road Games
    Rating Rated M
    Year Of Production 1974
    Running Time 112:27
    RSDL / Flipper RSDL (37:03) Cast & Crew
    Start Up Menu
    Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Terry Bourke
    Studio
    Distributor
    TerryRod
    Madman Entertainment
    Starring Judith Anderson
    Lionel Long
    Alex Cord
    Michael Craig
    Joseph Fürst
    Tony Bonner
    John Meillon
    John Morris
    Robert Quilter
    Diana Dangerfield
    Carla Hoogeveen
    Don Barkham
    John Nash
    Case ?
    RPI Box Music Bob Young


    Video Audio
    Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
    English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
    Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
    16x9 Enhancement
    16x9 Enhanced
    Video Format 576i (PAL)
    Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
    Jacket Pictures Yes
    Subtitles None Smoking No
    Annoying Product Placement No
    Action In or After Credits No

    NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

    Plot Synopsis

        This film seems to be set in 1896 in the Victorian countryside. A rich merchant is taken by coach to a remote inn, along with a woman he has paid to come with him. While in bed they appear to die horribly, through a means not entirely clear (though it's easy to guess). It turns out the coach driver is in cahoots with the owners of the inn to kill and rob wealthy travellers. It also turns out that perhaps the inn's owners are not in their right minds. Mrs Straulle (Dame Judith Anderson) is a bit potty and her husband Lazar (Joseph Fürst) tends not to speak much, unless it's to say "why don't you die?" to one of his victims.

        Meanwhile, coachman Biscayne (Bob Quilter) is being sought by the police for something he did a while back. The police are represented by Trooper Moore (Tony Bonner, strangely not accompanied by a kangaroo), an upright sort of chap and the American import Kincaid (Alex Cord). Kincaid seems to be a bounty hunter of sorts but is working for the police. They eventually capture Biscayne, which provides a connection to the inn run by the Straulles. Moore goes off to investigate - not a terribly good move as it turns out.

        Writer/director Terry Bourke appears to have come up with an idea for a short film and then padded it out to feature length by adding a lot of extraneous material. The business with the Straulles might work okay in an hour-long format. The rest of the film seems to be just there to stretch the running time out to nearly two hours. Apart from the manhunt angle, there's also comedy relief. John Meillon plays a drunken crony of Biscayne's and appears to have been really drunk in some scenes. Then there's the lesbian angle, with Diana Dangerfield and Carla Hoogeveen dropping their gear and getting into some hot tub action, placed in the inn of the title in order to link it to the rest of the film. And what Michael Craig's character is doing in this film, well, that's anyone's guess. Alex Cord plays his character like he was an embittered sheriff out in the old west hunting down some ornery varmints and fails to make his character even halfway likeable.

        The mishmash of elements makes this film a tough grind to sit through. There's some remarkable scenery, for example Oxford Falls, but the direction is competent at best and occasionally quite poor, making some of the actors look bad. The script contains some banal lines and there is really no horror to be found, unless it is horror at how bad this film is. With no sympathetic central character it becomes really tedious after a while.

        The film has been released on disc with another, much better Australian horror film Night of Fear. That film has been reviewed separately.

    Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

    Transfer Quality

    Video

        The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio was 1.85:1.

        The transfer is quite sharp and detailed. The scenery benefits from being able to see individual leaves on plants and trees. Contrast levels are good and the image is nice and bright. Daylight scenes look like they were shot in bright sunlight, something of a contrast to the dim daylight of British horror movies of the period.

        Colour is good, but there is a tendency for flesh tones to look slightly on the brown side. In lower light levels colour looks less impressive and low level noise renders the blacker areas of the picture anything but solid.

        Film to video artefacts are limited to some infrequent aliasing. There are plenty of small white specks, but otherwise no significant film artefacts.

        There are no subtitles. The disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change placed early in the film at 37:03. It is not disruptive.

    Video Ratings Summary
    Sharpness
    Shadow Detail
    Colour
    Grain/Pixelization
    Film-To-Video Artefacts
    Film Artefacts
    Overall

    Audio

        The main audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

        I did not notice any issues with the audio. Dialogue is clear throughout. I suspect a lot of it was looped in the studio afterwards, as occasionally the dialogue seemed slightly out of sync, and the acoustics of the audio do not always seem accurate. There are several scenes where there should have been significant background noise, but there is little or none. Music and effects come across well considering the age of the original source material.

        The music score is by Bob Young. At times it is quite effective, but at others it gets in the way or lapses into cliché. I thought the music used for the comic sequences was very unsubtle, and that it would have been more at home in something like The Benny Hill Show.

    Audio Ratings Summary
    Dialogue
    Audio Sync
    Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
    Surround Channel Use
    Subwoofer
    Overall

    Extras

    Audio Commentary with Rod Hay (producer) and Tony Bonner (actor)

        As audio commentaries go, this one is quite good. Both speak with enthusiasm about the film in total and various aspects of it, there are a few interesting anecdotes and there are few dead spots. I can't say I share their enthusiasm, but if anything is going to persuade you that this film is better than it is, this commentary is it.

    Gallery-Stills

        Another large gallery of stills, lobby cards, posters and newspaper and magazine articles from the time. This certainly gives flavour to the period and indicates the responses the film provoked.

    Theatrical Trailer (3:29)

        The trailer is not in the best of condition, but it is 16x9 enhanced. It covers most of the plot, and the voice-over is by John Laws.

    Trailers-Long Weekend, Thirst, Turkey Shoot, Road Games (8:18)

    Umbrella propaganda for other Australian genre films.

    R4 vs R1

    NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

        There is a Region 1 release of this film, which appears to be bare-bones. I have not been able to find any reviews of this release.

    Summary

        A poor Australian horror film.

        A very good video transfer.

        The audio is also good, but there are more extras than it deserves.

    Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
    Tuesday, May 03, 2005
    Review Equipment
    DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
    DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
    Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
    AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
    SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

    Other Reviews NONE
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    History of the Inn - Boobear