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20 Outrageous Ozploitation Classics

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

‎Australian exploitation cinema or Ozploitation (the favored shortened term) became highly successful throughout the 70s and 80s due to two main factors: 1) tax cuts which gave eager producers the boost to make movies and 2) Australia's then new R-rating. The filmmakers of the day finally had the chance to supply their audiences with all kinds of vibrant genre cinema that reflected and celebrated the unique Aussie culture. Early Ocker comedies such as Alvin Purple, The Adventures of Barry McKenzie and Pacific Banana were the first to kick off a New Wave of moviemaking in the Outback which spanned a wide variety of storylines. Most international film fans were later introduced to Ozploitation through the internationally successful cult classics Patrick and Mad Max, but there's still many more movies for you to experience that are every bit as exciting, daring and fun. Here's 20 of our favorites.

For more Ozploitation excitement we highly recommend:

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Alvin Purple (1973)

Graeme Blundell stars in this over the top "Ocker" sex comedy about a Melbourne man who has women problems...he can't stop making love to them since they find him utterly irresistable! One of the earliest films that kicked off the whole Ozploitation craze. The film was a massive success upon its release and even spawned a sequel Alvin Purple Rides Again.

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The Man From Hong Kong (1975)

Kung fu film icon Jimmy Wang Yu is Hong Kong Inspector Fang Sing Leng who is sent to Sydney, Australia to interrogate a chunky drug courier (Sammo Hung) that has been arrested there. Aussie Detectives Gross (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and Taylor (Roger Ward) are brought on to assist him in the investigation. They soon discover the man behind all the dirty dealing is one Jack Wilton (George Lazenby) a flamboyant and dangerous crime kingpin. This film aka "The Dragon Flies" is a very highly charged, stunt filled, thrilling action classic and one of the gems of its era. It marked the first Australian-Hong Kong co-production filmed in both nations. In addition the one hit wonder 70s pop song "Sky High" by the band Jigsaw is featured in the film's exciting opening credits sequence.

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Wake in Fright (1971)

In this Aussie version of Deliverance, a schoolteacher named John Grant (Gary Bond) on a brief stopover in a small hick town nicknamed "The Yabba" finds himself being pulled into the local wreckless lifestyle of beer drinking, gambling, kangaroo hunting and basic moral degradation. For decades, Wake in Fright was Australia's great "lost film" because of its unavailability on VHS or DVD, as well as its absence from television broadcasts. In mid-2009, however, a thoroughly restored digital re-release was shown in Australian theatres to considerable acclaim. Later that year it was issued commercially on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Wake in Fright is now recognized as a seminal film of the Australian New Wave.

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Mad Max (1979)

In the post-apocalyptic/dystopian future, Australian Main Force Patrol officer Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) does battle with a gang of crazed nomadic bikers led by the ultra maniacal "Toecutter" (Hugh Keays Byrne). The cars and bikes tear up the highways and the emotions soar in this heart racing, high octane action movie. Director George Miller had been a medical doctor in Sydney, Australia, working in a hospital emergency room where he saw many injuries and deaths of the types depicted in this film. While in residency at a Sydney hospital, Miller met amateur filmmaker Byron Kennedy at a summer film school in 1971. Eight years later, the duo produced this cult classic.

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Patrick (1978)

Robert Thompson plays Patrick, a creepy comatose patient in a Melbourne hospital who murdered his mother and her lover years earlier. To make matters worse, Patrick happens to possess special psychokinetic powers which he uses to communicate with Kathy (Susan Penhaligon) a young nurse he falls in love with. He also calls on them to defend himself from another nurse that wants to do him harm. It's a cult horror classic that blends aspects of Psycho and Carrie together in a uniquely thrilling way. Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino is a fan of the movie and borrowed an idea for a scene in Kill Bill where the bride is in her coma and spits on a sheriff, mimicking Patrick.

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Road Games (1981)

Stacy Keach is Patrick Quid an American born truck driver working in Australia who becomes entangled in a mystery revolving around a serial killer who’s knocking women off across the territory. On his travels he picks up a hitchhiker (Jamie Lee Curtis) that accompanies him as he tries to figure out who the killer really is. A brilliant road-thriller that mixes a nice amount of dark humor and suspense. While making Patrick, Director Richard Franklin gave writer Everett De Roche a copy of Rear Window as an example of how he wanted the script typed. De Roche loved the content and expressed his desire to write a film with a similar plot but set on a moving vehicle. The budget of $1.75 million was the highest ever for an Australian film at that time.

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Stone (1974)

When a mysterious assassin begins knocking off members of the "Grave Diggers" outlaw motorcycle club, the police send in a clean living, straight arrow officer named Stone (Ken Shorter) to go undercover with the wild bikers and investigate who's pulling the trigger. Director Sandy Harbutt got the idea for Stone in 1970 when he wrote a script for an episode of the TV series The Long Arm in which he was appearing. The movie was shot in late 1973. The soundtrack was composed by Billy Green and featured some members of his group Sanctuary. Motorcycles featured include the legendary Kawasaki Z1(900). Stone initially rides a Norton. A legendary action packed, counter-culture classic from the Ozploitation explosion.

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BMX Bandits (1983)

While American audiences were loving movies like Spielberg's E.T., Aussies had this fast moving action-comedy about a trio of teenage BMX bike enthusiasts (Angelo D'Angelo, James Lugton and Nicole Kidman) who get caught in the middle of a criminal organizations' plan to rob a bank. Trenchard-Smith: "I wanted to capture the spirit of the Ealing comedies and British films of the ‘50s and ‘60s that were clearly aimed at children and delivered action and fun in a largely cartoonish way."

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Mad Dog Morgan (1976)

Dennis Hopper stars in this film based on the life of 19th century bushranger Dan "Mad Dog" Morgan. Filmed during Hopper's heavy substance abuse period, it is uneven on some levels but also a wild action-adventure that portrays the controversial life of Morgan who was regarded as a Robin Hood figure to some and a deadly Jesse James type to others. The movie was based on the book, 'Morgan - the Bold Bushranger', by Margaret Frances Carnegie. The production used various locations where Dan Morgan had been active, in the eastern Riverina, including Billabong Creek, Culcairn and Jindera. Morgan's cave in the film was the actual cave Dan Morgan had used as well.

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The FJ Holden (1977)

Best mates Kevin (Paul Couzens) and Bob (Carl Stever) cruise around town in their FJ Holden classic car trying to pick up girls and have a ball. A very entertaining, chilled out 70s Aussie version of American Graffiti meets Two Lane Blacktop about the freewheeling yet dead end lifestyle of youth in Bankstown, New South Wales. Most of the young actors in the film were amateurs. Debi Enker in Australian Cinema comments: "The FJ Holden presents the suburbs as a cultural and spiritual desert. It is a place where regular bouts with the bottle are the only antidote for lives without hope or direction."

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Fast Lane Fever (1982)

A fast paced action cult film about street racers Mike (Terry Serio) his best friend Tony (John Agius) who compete with Fox (Richard Moir) the top hot rod racer in New South Wales. Featuring some very cool supercharged musclecars such as the Ford Falcon GT-HO Phase III, Dodge Challenger and 57 Chevy Coupe. This is a perfect Aussie gem for gearheads. TRIVIA (Ozmovies.com.au): Devotees of the film often make the point that cars are substituted at points in the filming, with camera angles and editing designed to obscure the way more expensive versions of the cars are saved, and cheaper versions crashed, battered or burned.

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Stork (1971)

Based on the play "The Coming of Stork", Bruce Spence (The Road Warrior) plays Graham "Stork" Wallace, a very tall, geeky bloke who loses his job at an auto plant and moves into a bachelor flat with hipsters Tony (Sean McEuan), Clyde (Helmut Bakaitis) and their girlfriend Anna (Jacki Weaver). Of course the hijinks ensue as everyone gets their rocks off and Stork learns about life and love. An early "Ocker" coming of age comedy that was hugely successful and an essential part of the Aussie film revival.

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Fair Game (1986)

A woman (Cassandra Delaney) who runs a wildlife preserve becomes the unwilling human prey for three kangaroo poachers who are looking for a new form of hunting. It's The Naked Prey meets I Spit On Your Grave Australian style. Director Mario Andreacchio later said: "Fair Game came out of a situation where we were wanting to make a movie that was a B-grade video suspense thriller. I wanted to treat it like comic book violence - it was always like a comic book study of violence. What amazed me and the thing I found quite disappointing was that it started to become a cult film in some parts of the world and people were taking it seriously. And that, for me, became a real turning point. I thought, if people are taking this seriously, then I don't think I can make this sort of material."

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Turkey Shoot (1982)

Three convicts: Chris Walters (Olivia Hussey) Rita Daniels (Lynda Stoner) and Paul Anders (Steve Railsback) are given a unique chance at regaining their freedom if they can evade psychotic hunters in a human turkey shoot. An exciting dystopian survival-thriller that pits imprisoned "social deviants" against their deranged captors. Some very gory thrills and exciting action sequences within. According to Brian Trenchard-Smith, the film was always meant to be a satire: "The original script was sort of like I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang meets The Most Dangerous Game. I suggested we set it in the future, and make it more universal. We wanted to make a tongue in cheek but gutsy action movie with subtext about corporate fascism at the beginning of the Reagan era."

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The Road Warrior (1981)

Since losing his wife and child, ex-police officer Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) lives like a scavenger on the highways of the Outback. He soon gets caught up in another personal war when he comes upon a large fuel refinery that is the target of a new nomadic band of psycho marauders led by the hockey masked brute "Lord Humongus". The stunts are ramped up to mindblowing levels and so are the stakes. This sequel to Mad Max was mainly inspired by Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the work of Carl Jung and the films of Akira Kurosawa. It remains one of Australia's greatest action movies.

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Harlequin (1980)

A modern day version of Rasputin which focuses on Senator Nick Rast (David Hemmings) and his son (Mark Spain) who has leukemia. When a faith healer/magician named Gregory Wolfe (Robert Powell) shows up and seems to cure the boy, Rast's wife Sandy (Carmen Duncan) falls in love with him. Rast's political organization led by Doc Wheelan (Broderick Crawford) don't hold the same view of Wolfe and consider him a threat. A strange blend of fantasy and political conspiracy thriller makes this a unique entry in the Ozploitation genre. TRIVIA: Originally written for David Bowie (Wolfe) and Orson Welles (Doc Wheelan).

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Razorback (1984)

An eco-terror cult classic in the tradition of JAWS about a giant, maneating wild boar that wreaks havoc on citizens of the Outback. By the early 1980s Australian filmmaker Russell Mulcahy had established himself as one of the leading music video directors in the world. He wanted to make features but at that point had only been offered musicals - a sequel to Flashdance that was never made and Space Riders - which he did not want to do. He was offered Razorback in August 1982 and accepted the job. The movie was mostly shot in the area of Broken Hill, New South Wales and based on the novel by Peter Brennan.

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Deathcheaters (1976)

Since leaving the horrors of war behind, two Vietnam vets Steve (John Hargreaves) and Rodney (Grant Page) work as stuntmen for TV programs. Due to their extensive commando backgrounds the government decides they are the perfect duo to infiltrate a Filipino island where a criminal boss is holding some secret documents they want retrieved. It's a cracking "men on a mission" blend of stunts and adventure the likes you've never seen! According to Director Brian Trenchard Smith the idea for Deathcheaters came from an "eureka in the shower" moment when he decided to make an action film that would be suitable for children, and would be opposite to the explicit violence in his earlier martial arts action flick The Man From Hong Kong.

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The Chain Reaction (1980)

Released right around the same time as Mad Max (look for a fun cameo from young Mel Gibson), this film has a similar theme to American films like The China Syndrome dealing with the fears of a Nuclear catastrophy. You may notice there's also an oddly similar look to some characters seen in Romero's The Crazies as well. Writer-Director Ian Barry didn't have a very big budget to work with but did a great job making a film about ordinary people affected by something they have no control over. For extra help and to save time, Director George Miller (Mad Max) was brought on to shoot the film's car chase sequences. These added an exciting edge to the film that it may not have had otherwise.

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Long Weekend (1978)

An Aussie couple, Peter (John Hargreaves) and Marcia (Briony Behets) try to save their marriage by going camping and rekindling their lost feelings for one another. Soon after they arrive at the beachside getaway their mistreatment of nature and various wildlife causes dangerous repercussions. A suspenseful, atmospheric Eco-thriller in the tradition of Hitchcock's The Birds. The script was the first feature script written by Everett De Roche, an experienced Australian TV writer. "My premise was that Mother Earth has her own auto-immune system, so when humans start behaving like cancer cells, She attacks. I also wanted to avoid a JAWS-like critter film. I wanted the LW beasties to all be benign-looking and not overtly aggressive."

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