Tuesday, August 7, 2012


(Australia - 1979)

One of the more egregious examples of misleading advertising from the grindhouse glory days, THE DAY AFTER HALLOWEEN was the 1980 US retitling of the 1979 Australian import SNAPSHOT, complete with poster art that didn't make any overt claims, but arguably implied that it was somehow connected to John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN (1978).  I'm sure audiences became openly hostile by the 20-minute mark, as it obviously has nothing whatsoever to do with HALLOWEEN or Halloween, but taken on its own terms (or, as SNAPSHOT, which is the actual title on both versions on Scorpion Releasing's new DVD--more on that in a bit), it's a compellingly odd character piece that's light on thrills and chills, but does a good job of establishing a palpable sense of unease throughout.  It also has a believable performance by Sigrid Thornton (THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER) as young, naive hairdresser Angela.  Stuck in a dead-end job with a domineering mother (Julia Blake), a bratty little sister (Jacqui Gordon), and ex-boyfriend Daryl (Vincent Gil) who follows her around in an ice cream truck, Angela is whisked away from her dreary life by bitch-on-wheels cover girl Madeline (Chantal Contouri), who gets her a modeling job.  Now with money and independence, Angela is meeting all sorts of new people and finding her way through a new world.  And that ice cream truck is still following her. 

YouTube fan montage featuring the film's theme song "Angela," by Sherbet!

Co-written by Australia-based American expat Everett De Roche (LONG WEEKEND, PATRICK, ROAD GAMES) and directed by Simon Wincer (later to helm projects as varied as LONESOME DOVE, QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER, HARLEY DAVIDSON AND THE MARLBORO MAN, and FREE WILLY), SNAPSHOT is a strange little film that drops its heroine in an unrelentingly cruel world where she's used, abused, and manipulated by everyone (even her mother drops by her new place and steals some money out of her dresser drawer), and yet, she's curiously unfazed by a lot of it (she finds a pig's head in her bed at one point, and goes on about her day, assuming Daryl put it there).  This film is often lumped in with the Ozploitation scene (primarily because of producer Antony I. Ginnane), but there's not much here in the way of exploitative elements.  In fact, I'm not entirely sure what Wincer and the writers really wanted to accomplish here, but it's consistently engrossing and you're never quite certain where it's headed.  Coupled with an ending that might leave more questions than answers, the only thing one can say with 100% certainty is that whatever title it's going by, it's not a slasher film.  Scorpion's DVD is really a thing of beauty:  the 2.35 anamorphic presentation of the 92-minute US cut is quite impressive and a major improvement on the blurry, washed-out print that aired on Turner Classic Movies a couple of years ago.  I think that faded print is the transfer used for the second version on the DVD:  the 101-minute Australian cut that's presented in a vastly inferior 1.78 anamorphic transfer, and most of the additional footage seems to consist of Angela having a much longer confrontation with her mother, a scene of her roommates watching the Ginnane-produced PATRICK on TV, Madeline and Angela walking in on a couple having sex, and more screen time for a shamelessly mugging nightclub performer who should've been cut altogether.  It's this longer version that has a commentary track with Ginnane and Scorpion horror hostess Katarina Leigh Waters.  Ginnane is personable enough, and covers most of the bases, but Waters really doesn't do a great job of keeping the discussion going (though to her credit, she is improving on her earlier commentary moderation efforts), usually chiming with an "Mmm hmm," to keep Ginnane talking, which I suppose is fine.  It's not the best commentary you'll ever hear (and it takes a full hour for either of them to inevitably mention that Quentin Tarantino is a fan of the film), but Ozploitation devotees will find it interesting.  The nine extra minutes are superfluous and the film not only looks better in its shorter version, but it's paced better as well.  Also of note for trash fans: nearly every female cast member except for Controuri spent time on the Australian women-in-prison cult TV series PRISONER: CELL BLOCK H.  (R, 92 mins/101 mins)

(Italy - 1975)

Raro USA brings us the first official US home video release of this early erotic thriller from future CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST director Ruggero Deodato.  Ostensibly inspired by Roman Polanski's 1962 breakthrough KNIFE IN THE WATER, WAVES OF LUST is one of Deodato's dullest films, and despite the director's claims that it's a thriller above all, there's not much in the way of suspense or drama.  If you didn't think it was possible that constant sex and nudity could be boring as hell, then let WAVES OF LUST show you how it's done.  Irem (Al Cliver) and Barbara (Silvio Dionisio, Deodato's wife at the time) meet George (John Steiner) and Silvia (Elizabeth Turner), and are invited for a cruise on George's yacht.  They do this despite thinking George may have murdered a business associate with whom they'd earlier seen him arguing.  Of course, it doesn't take long for George to reveal himself as a psychotic, controlling, alcoholic douchebag who routinely physically and psychologically abuses Silvia. This prompts her to seek sexual solace with both Irem and Barbara, while Barbara finds herself turned on by George, who does little aside from ruin everyone's vacation, smack Silvia around, and brag about how rich and powerful he is.  Only in the last 15 minutes does Deodato decide to make this a "thriller," and it's as unsatisfying as the plentiful but profoundly unerotic sex scenes, the nadir of which has Cliver doing a head stand (a recurring motif that, like the rest of the film, goes nowhere) while the almost constantly nude Turner stands and passionately kisses his ankle and calf, as Deodato provides us with some gratuitous Al Cliver back acne.  Joe D'Amato probably could've done wonders with this, but Deodato's made much better films, starting with his next, 1976's awesome LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN.  Written by Gianlorenzo Battaglia and Lamberto Bava.  Deodato, Bava, and Cliver appear in a 17-minute documentary on the DVD, and there's also some deleted scenes that show some additional shots in a few of the sex scenes.  Raro's DVD offers both Italian-language and English-dubbed audio, and is 1.85 anamorphic and looks generally acceptable.  WAVES OF LUST is worth a watch for Deodato fans and Italian exploitation obsessives, but even they won't get much out of this catatonic, sleep-inducing softcore porn travelogue.  (Unrated, 88 mins)

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