Category Archives: Ozsploitation

10 great biker films

PsychomaniaThis September, the living dead won’t be shuffling on to the screen, they’ll roar across it on the back of motorcycles, as the BFI releases its Blu-ray of Australian-born director Don Sharp’s 1973 cult film, Psychomania, a fusion of two obsessions of early 70s exploitation cinema: the occult and vicious motorcycle packs.

Motorcycle gangs first appeared on the big screen in the early 1950s. A trickle of motorcycle-themed film appeared until the mid-60s, but it wasn’t until the release of US gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson’s 1966 book Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs and then the 1969 Rolling Stones concert at Altamont Speedway concert, at which Hells Angels working as bouncers killed an audience member, that popular culture’s preoccupation with criminal motorcycle gangs reached fever pitch.

Hollywood produced a deluge of outlaw biker movies and, while this has been the motorcycle’s most common screen manifestation, the machines have also symbolised the quest for freedom and self-discovery.

My latest piece for the British Film Institute site, 10 major cinematic milestones focused on the motorbike, is available to read in full here.

What are your favourite films featuring motorcycles?

Thirst: Australia’s first vampire film

Thirst 4Rod Hardy’s 1979 film, Thirst, now re-released by local distributor Glass Doll Films, is commonly referred to as a good example of Ozsploitation cinema, the term given to the wave of Australian low-budget horror, comedy, and action films made after the introduction of the R-rating in 1971. That description and categorisation doesn’t do justice to how good a horror film Thirst is in its own right, not to mention its place in the broader sub-genre of vampire cinema.

As well as being ahead of its time, Thirst borrows from the healthy lineage of vampire cinema in the late sixties and seventies, as well as horror cinema more generally, including the canon of stylish, erotic, vampire films that appeared in the seventies; Harry Kumel’sDaughters of Darkness (1971), Jesus Franco’s Vampyros Lesbos (1971) and Female Vampire (1973), and on the other side of the Atlantic, Stephanie Rothman’s The Velvet Vampire (1971). These fused art house sensibilities and soft-core porn aesthetics with horror tropes and sexual experimentation.

You can read my review of Thirst in full, here at the 4:3 site.

Pulp Friday: Scobie Malone & “our new Errol Flynn”

Movie newsSomething a little different for this week’s Pulp Friday.

I recently watched the 1975 Australian film, Scobie Malone, starring Jack Thompson. Also known as Murder at the Opera House and Helga’s Web, the latter from the title of the 1970 Jon Cleary it is based on, the film was long unavailable until its recent re-release by Umbrella Entertainment.

The plot involves larrikan Sydney homicide detective Sergeant Scobie Malone (Jack Thompson) investigating the murder of a women whose body is found in the Sydney Opera House. In the course of his inquires, Malone discovers the women, Helga (Judy Morris), was a high priced prostitute involved with several important clients, including the Minister for Culture (James Workman), who she was blackmailing, and film director Jack Savannah (Joe Martin).

There are numerous suspects for her death, including the Minister’s snobbish wife and a local criminal going by the wonderful name of Mister Sin (Noel Ferrier). The events leading up to Helga’s death are told in a series of flashbacks. Most of the police work is done by Malone’s hapless offsider (Shane Porteous), leaving the title character to spend most of his screen time having sex with a bewildering variety of women, including nearly all the female inhabitants of the singles only block of flats he lives in.… Read more

Crime Factory issue 13 is out


A heads up that issue 13 of Crime Factory is out (with cover design by the one and only Eric Beetner, who also did the cover for my novel, Ghost Money)

In this issue I talk to Dwayne Epstein, author of the new Lee Marvin bio, Lee Marvin Point Blank, about Marvin’s life and movies and what it was like to research a book on one of the true icons of masculine cool.

But that’s just one piece among many, including:

Michael A Gonzales interviews Gary Phillips and Tommy Hancock, creators of the new anthology, Black Pulp.

Ruth Dugdall talks working with and writing about criminals with Angela Savage.

Tom Darin Liskey gives true crime reportage from Indian Country.

Elusive Ozploitation icon Roger Ward is interviewed about his career by James Hopwood.

Plus Kennedy assassination pulp fiction (and no, I didn’t know such a thing existed either before this issue, either), great fiction and reviews.

It’s a bargain at 99 cents for the Kindle version or $5.99 plus postage for the print version.

Or, if you’re on a budget (or just stingy), you can download the PDF here for free.

And Melbourne folk, while I’m pulling on your coat about Crime Factory related matters, this coming Tuesday, May 14, Crime Factory Publications is proud to be teaming up with Cinecult 303 for a screening of Lee Marvin’s cult classic, Prime Cut (which I reviewed on this site here).… Read more

Pulp Friday: interview with Iain Mcintyre, author, Sticking it to the Man!

Today’s Pulp Friday is a fascinating interview with Melbourne-based social historian Iain McIntyre, author of a new book, Sticking it to the Man! Pop, Protest and Black Fiction of the Counterculture, 1964-75.

Sticking it to the Man! is a roller coaster ride through the lava lit streets of the counter-cultural pulp fiction of the late sixties and early seventies, a time when hippies, bikers, swingers and revolutionaries replaced cops and private detectives as pulp’s stable characters.

The book contains 130 reviews of pulps from the period covering all the major sub-themes: drug use, bikers, sleaze, blaxsploitation, hippies and dystopian science fiction. It also includes the covers in all their dog eared, price marked glory. It’s through books like this that the hidden history of pulp fiction is gradually pieced together. Sticking it to the Man! is a must read for every serious pulp fiction afficiando.

You can buy Sticking it to the Man! here. Copies will also be on sale at the launch of Crime Factory’s Hard Labour anthology, this coming Monday, October 8. Iain will also be talking about his book at the launch.

What is it about pulp fiction between 1964 and 1975, the period covered in your book that you find so interesting?

I’ve long had an interest in troublemakers, militants and odd-balls, and this was a period in which those normally relegated to the margins were able to have a major impact on culture and society.… Read more