Stuff I’ve Been Watching (documentary edition)

not quite hollywood: the wild, untold story of ozploitation!
currently available via netflix watch instantly, i watched not quite hollywood on a whim, knowing nothing about it and little about its subject matter (australian exploitation films of the 70s and 80s). having watched it twice now, i can’t believe i hadn’t heard of this documentary before. much like the 32nd street trailer compilations, this is a must-see for fans of horror and exploitation cinema. unlike those compilations though, this documentary is a highly polished and has an interesting story to tell as it traces the history and influence of australian exploitation films. interviews with directors like quentin tarantino, greg mclean, james wan and leigh whannell show the influence of “ozploitation” on modern classics like death proof, saw and wolf creek. go watch it. like, right f’ing now. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

i remember seeing hardware as a kid and really liking it but thinking “there’s something going on here i’m not old enough to understand.” almost twenty years later i can see what that was. there’s a surreal “i just graduated from art-school” style to many scenes in the film that didn’t resonate with my fifteen year old self. ironically, those aspects of the film don’t do much for my thirty-four year old self either as they make a relatively simple horror story occasionally come across as pompous and self-indulgent. i really should have seen this film in my early twenties when i was eating up ‘self-indulgent’ and ‘pompous’ like it was my job.

that said — i really liked hardware as a kid, and i really like it now. the story is both simple and unique. in an unspecified but decidedly crappy vision of the future, a scavenger brings home a piece of mechanical junk to his girlfriend for use in her sculptures. unfortunately for her and everyone she knows, the piece of junk turns out to be part of a murderous robot that rebuilds itself from pieces of surrounding junk and begins killing everyone it encounters. imagine a horror version of bladerunner with a healthy sprinkling of fallout 3 on top (right down to the over-the-top post-apocalyptic radio dj). the robot looks a little silly at times by today’s standards (and, given its low-budget, even by 1990 standards), but this is definitely a sci-fi/horror gem worth seeking out… if no other reason, to hear the ‘wibberly-wobberly’ song sung by the creepy/chubby/peeping-tom/stalker guy.

Oh we all walk the Wibberly-Wobberly walk.
And we all talk the Wibberly-Wobberly talk.
And all we all wear Wibberly-Wobberly ties.
And we look at all the pretty girls with Wibberly-Wobberly eyes.

spine tingler! the william castle story
spine tingler! is a documentary showcasing the life of famous horror film director/producer william castle. viewed as the poor-man’s alfred hitchcock, castle’s films are generally remembered for their gimmicks rather than their quality. for example, the house on haunted hill was filmed in “emergo” (an elaborate film process involving a rubber skeleton on a string that floated above the audience) and the tingler featured “percepto” (wherein castle famously rigged certain audience seats with electric buzzers). lovingly told from the perspective of family, friends and fans, spine tingler! is a fascinating look at both william castle’s life and his contribution to the horror genre.

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