Category Archives: Imaginary Australian Cinema

#237 – Blood Wild

(1983, Aust, 85 min) Dir Chuck Mallory. Cast Steve Bisley, Joanne Samuel.

Between his spooky debut Hannah Blet and his posting to Hollywood, Chuck Mallory found the time to produce Blood Wild, a turn into Mad Max territory, apparently made just to see if he could. Unlike Mad Max, Blood Wild is set in the present day and owes just as much to Deliverance and Duel in it’s premse – Bisley and Samuel (not accidentally both MM veterans) are JB and Shanny, a big city couple travelling to Darwin where JB has a new job. There is tension between the two, Shanny not masking how aggrieved she is at having to move so far away. Her displeasure only increases when she finds out JB’s plan – his scheme is to travel in a straight line through the vast desert expanse of the interior. Before you can say ’bad idea’ locals are offended and they are forced to drive through the night to the next town for accommodation. From out of the dark, while JB snores beside her, Shanny spots a pair of faraway headlights. Her heart in her chest she watches as they get closer and closer still and before she knows it this mystery car has shot past mere inches from them, waking JB. “What was that?” he splutters but when Shanny points out the window there are no tail lights ahead, only darkness. So far so Deliverance/Duel but by the time the third act wheels around JB and Shanny are racing for their lives against some very real enemies in the form of a racing gang who have gone ‘Blood Wild’ in the desert and are hungry for sport. The creeping dread of the first two-thirds are as effective as you would expect from the director of Hannah Blet and the end shows he has as much talent for unrestrained action as he does for controlled suspense.

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#125 – Hannah Blet

(1981, Aust, 104 min) Dir Chuck Mallory. Cast Jenny Bitz, Pete Pooter, Jim Billing.

Through the desert haze comes Hannah Blet, a twentysomething woman with an antique suitcase. She takes up position at the side of the road. Cut to a wide shot – this road is running through the middle of nowhere and the desert that she has just emerged from goes on forever in every direction. Cut to a close up – Hannah has a smile on her face, the same smile she’ll be wearing throughout the film no matter if she’s watching a child play or pulling apart a trucker who’s made unwanted advances like he’s nothing more than a rag doll. Who is Hannah Blet? Why is her suitcase full of Victorian clothes and sand? The film does little to answer these question but gives us a very still, very stylish atmosphere in the shape of DOP Jim Dixon’s spare compositions and Dingo Drift’s synthy score, a still atmosphere that is occasionally punctuated by very effective and very bloody violence. An accomplished debut from Chuck Mallory and a fine performance from Jenny Blitz set this Ozploitation classic apart.

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#92 – Wayne the First

(1988, Aust, 104 min) Dir Ben Tenzen. Cast Susan Alison, Alan Mann, Jenny Bitz, Doris Cholcos.

Australian comedy inspired by the number of areas that declared independence in Australia through the seventies and eighties. Susan Alison is a city living girl who is unlucky in love with a low paying job when she sees an advertisement in the paper from someone called Wayne the First who claims to be the King of Free Creek. Though she’s never heard of the place she decides to check it out, following the directions on the ad on the appointed day and finds herself on a farmstead in the middle of nowhere with the three other women all there to apply for the job of Queen. Much to their delight Wayne isn’t some backward slob, he’s a handsome, if socially inept, guy played by Alan Mann and soon enough there are four tents in his yard… Of course word gets out and before long the news crews are there and then the busloads of other hopefuls arrive too. A quirky romantic comedy which manages to transcend the potential iffiness of the premise by sheer force of its likability and appealing performances it’s mostly unknown cast.

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#76 – One Huge Beach

(1955, Aust, 95 min, b/w) Dir Ralph Robinson. Cast Rod Taylor, Diane Cilento.

Max (Taylor) lives alone on the beach in his shack overlooking the tide. Every morning he goes out to fish for food and see what’s been tossed up by the surf. One day finds a metal pod of some kind and through the glass portal on the front he can see that there is someone inside. He drags it back up to his shack and eventually breaks it open to reveal the young woman (Cilento) inside who wakes once the seal is broken. He nurses her back to health and returns from his beachcombing one morning to find her awake and sitting up. She is Valeria Pross and as she tells it she was put into what she calls her “lifeboat” back in 1975 when the war started. Max is confused – he doesn’t know of any war. “What year is it now?” she asks him but he doesn’t know. “But how did you get here?” she tries but incurious Max just shrugs. “My parents had me,” he says, “But they’re dead now.” She convinces him to join her in setting off from the beach in search of civilisation but, as they find, the whole world has been laid to waste by the nuclear war they have survived, turning it into an unending landscape of impassive irradiated sand – sand that is slowly killing her but that Max has grown up immune to. “You mean,” says Max, sifting a handful and furrowing his brow, “You mean the whole world has been turned into one huge beach?” But of course for him there is no loss – he’s never known it any other way.

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Twitter: @MadeUpFilms