Pure Shit (1975)

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

Released 13-May-2009

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
CD
Booklet
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Trailer
Featurette-Rollin' with Bert & Gaz
Featurette-Reunion
Audio Commentary-Director and Producer
Audio Commentary-Cast
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 77:18
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Bert Deling
Studio
Distributor
Nat. Film & Sound
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Garry Waddell
Anne Hetherington
Carol Porter
John Laurie
Max Gillies
Tim Robertson
Helen Garner
Phil Motherwell
Case Custom Packaging
RPI ? Music Martin Armiger
Red Symons


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, amidst graphic intravenous drug use...
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Pure S*** is probably the most notorious Australian film of all time. In 1975, this dodgy low-budget black comedy had conservatives in an uproar following its otherwise relatively quiet release and quickly found itself banned amidst a swell of high profile media attention (one Melbourne Herald reviewer notoriously branded it "the most evil film that I’ve ever seen"). The filmmakers revelled in the reaction, but interest had substantially dried up by the time the film was un-banned (partly on the proviso it was renamed Pure S).

    The film is the tale of four junkie misfits (led by notable Aussie character actor Garry Waddell) who, in the space of a couple of days, go on a rampage around Melbourne looking to score some pure s*** (that would be "decent heroin" to the rest of us) and proceed to run amok after becoming successful. This broad plot outline is pretty much just scope to string together a bunch of smackie anecdotes into a windy linear plot that glorifies the life of a bunch of useless smackheads. Some of the bits/anecdotes are hysterical, whilst others are a muddle or downright dull.

    Interestingly, and contrary to just about every smackie movie made since (as well as the directors own claims), the general message seems to be that heroin is great, so long as you are careful as to what you are buying (although it might make you a bit sleepy or kill you if you aren't careful), and other drugs will mess you up. Furthermore, "The Man"'s attempts to force people off heroin are absolutely flawed, totally misguided and largely evil (director Bert Deling claims to have made the film as a direct response to the advent of heavy-handed Methodone treatments). Add to this message the frequent graphic injection scenes (which generally involve still camera shots of characters repeatedly stabbing themselves until they find a good vein - none of which are effects) and numerous messy bodily functions, and it is not hard to see why the conservatives were reeling.

    The film's funniest moments come when it looks at people sky-high on other drugs. Its caricature of a cleaning-obsessed speed freak (Helen Garner) has been aped, knowingly or otherwise, by countless films since. It also features a hilarious look at a coked-out pair whose bizarre antics are rivaled only by their extreme paranoia. It a little disappointing that the film fails to find an equally amusing heroin caricature, given that seems to be the drug of choice.

    Fans of the spectacular car chases that Australian films movies from the 1970s and 1980s are famous for are in for a treat with Pure S***. Living down to its name, the film features probably the s***iest car chase ever committed to film. It is truly indescribable in its shonkiness. Most people would face a more deadly drive to work every day. I guess car chases were obligatory in an Aussie movie of that era in order to qualify for public funding!

    The acting and direction are pretty much uniformly awful. The one or two decent performances on offer (particularly Max Gillies', in his brief role, and some of Garry Waddell's scenes) make this fact glaringly apparent. For the most part, these deficiencies aren't really a problem, in fact it could be argued that they come with the ultra-low-budget territory, although they do mean that the audience has to pay particular attention to pick up all of story as it moves at a mile-a-minute without conveying itself as clearly as it ideally could. Often, the funniest parts require some substantial reading between the lines - and in this case the lines are pretty wobbly.

    Pure S*** is a long way from a classic film purely on its own merits. It is a decent flick, and at times very funny, but its disregard of conventional boundaries and the controversy it managed to stir are really what make it worth watching. Many of the needle scenes are uncomfortable to watch even by today's standards, even for folks who would happily watch Hostel over their morning bowl of Rice Bubbles. Pure S*** is a fascinating product of its era.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in its original full frame, 1.33:1, aspect ratio. All things considered this is a very decent transfer of obviously limiting source material.

    The video is a little on the soft side when weighed against some other fare of the same age, but this has to be expected as the source material was 16mm rather than 35mm. The colours in the film are a little subdued, but are pretty consistent throughout. The video features a good level of shadow detail.

    A moderate level of film artefacts are visible in the video, all flecks of dust and nothing particularly large. There is minimal telecine wobble that can only be noticed over the opening and closing credits. Most likely due to its 16mm film origin, the grain visible is a little coarse but thankfully it is never particularly distracting. There is no sign of compression-related video artefacts.

    There are no subtitles available for the film.

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

Audio

    The film features a single English Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track that sounds rather mono (which would be accurate for the time the film was made).

    The audio sounds somewhat compressed and a little muddy. Between the muddy source and its pace, the dialogue is occasionally hard to clearly make out and requires particular attention to digest at times. The level of background hiss is not too bad and the audio does not suffer from substantial clicking or popping. The audio sync frequently looks a little off, almost like it was dubbed, although seems more likely to be from the source than the transfer given the frenetic pace of much of what is going on and its low budget origins.

    The film features a great 1970s pub-rock soundtrack that features tracks by Red Symonds and a couple of indie bands whose existence was probably forgotten by the time the film was released. The soundtrack is a real highlight of the film, but certainly sounds better on the soundtrack CD that is featured in the set.

    There is no surround or subwoofer usage noticeable.

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

Extras

    This three-disc set comes in a rather pretty cardboard package with an excellent set of extras that well and truly befit the cult nature of the film, although the focus is clearly on quantity rather than variety. There is a notable lack of a 'Making Of'-type featurette. Although the many interviews featured do a good job of telling most of what that sort of featurette would, casual fans would benefit from a single featurette cut from the many interviews. The extras are very much driven by nostalgia, which makes for some great stories.

Booklet

A glossy booklet about the film is included, which runs around a dozen pages. This one is more informative, largely by virtue of being concise, than the rest of the extras in the set and includes plenty of related images, including the notorious "Most Evil Film In The World" headline. A very worthy extra.

Disc One

Audio Commentary with Bert Deling and Bob Weiss

    An interesting commentary, but one that I found myself frequently disagreeing with - particularly when director Bert Deling tries to justify the film as anti-heroin (pro-choice whilst highlighting some of the downside, certainly, but not anti). Deling is quite the character and is oddly engaging throughout.

Audio Commentary with Garry Waddell and John Laurie

    A somewhat stilted commentary from two of the film's stars, prompted by Michael Helms. When the guys get going they have plenty to say, but there are numerous awkward patches of dead air.

Interviews

    The interviews featured in the set are all talking head-type affairs, set to a black backdrop and devoid of an interviewer. It is more of a case of interviewees prattling on with a bit of off-camera prompting, rather than a real interview, which suits the nostalgic mood of the set. All are fairly candid, although many cover the same ground as one another.

    This lot includes an interview with Garry Waddell (18:49), who plays Lou in the film and is the only actor in the primary cast who has really made a name for himself at all, director Bert Deling (32:00) and producer Bob Weis (17:21).

Rollin' With Bert & Gaz Featurette (11:10)

    Bert Deling and Garry Waddell go for a car ride around the various parts of Carlton and Fitzroy, commentating on the various aspect of the scene from which the film emerged

Reunion Featurette (28:46)

    Key members of the cast and crew get together for a nice lunch and chat about the film. Besides being a nice tax write off for whoever was paying, this featurette provides the guys (and it is all guys) an opportunity to bounce recollections and stories off one-another. This results in a lot of the same ground that was covered in the interviews being covered again, but give it a slightly different perspective.

Trailer

    A trailer that revels in the film's notoriety.

Disc Two

Interviews

    The second disc is mostly made up of additional interviews with a variety of fans, film critics and crew. The interviews play out much the same as those on the first disc, but feature a much more diverse set of subjects.

    This lot includes cult director Richard Lowenstein (15:31), indie director John Hewitt (13:55), actor/critic John Flauss (14:03), director John Hewitt (13:55), critic David Stratton (8:27), Social Commentator Bob Ellis (13:41), actor Greg Pickhaver, AKA HG Nelson, who has a small role in the film (13:55), the film's cinematographer Tom Cowan (27:25), the film's editor John Scott (10:20), and composer Martin Armiger (23:36).

Gallery

    An animated slideshow that mostly consists of production images from the movie, backed by a decent bluesy track from the film.

Disc Three - Soundtrack CD

    The third disc in the set is a fairly well mastered copy of the film's soundtrack. A great listen.

R4 vs R1

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

    At present, this Region 4 edition is the only version of the film available.

Summary

    Pure S*** is a pretty s***ty movie, though it is occasionally very funny. Viewed as an artefact of its era, on the other hand, it makes for fascinating viewing.

    The film features decent video, particularly given its source, but the audio has not weathered well and is suffers from some wobbly sync. The extras package is excellent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Thursday, October 08, 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
Comments (Add) NONE