‘Girl at the Window’ Director Mark Hartley’s Favorite Ozploitation Films

Girl At The Window is now available on Digital and VOD.

A troubled teenage girl who’s struggling to cope with the accidental death of her father suspects that the mysterious killer stalking her hometown is not only her neighbor but her mother’s new romantic interest.

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Check out the full list of films on Horrorville here.

THE ADVENTURES OF BARRY McKENZIE (1972)

From the director of DRIVING MISS DAISY (1989) comes this hilarious tale of a lantern jawed, dim-witted but thoroughly good-natured ocker, Barry McKenzie, landing in Pommyland on the lookout for sexual adventures.
 
The debut feature film of acclaimed director Bruce Beresford, THE ADVENTURES OF BARRY McKENZIE was the brainchild of famed satirist Barry Humphries who took aim at racists and homophobic attitudes (a fake censorship classification ‘NPA - No Poofters Allowed’ accompanied the film’s release) and in the process introduced to the silver screen projectile vomiting (later appropriated by THE EXORCIST) and invented Aussie vernacular that soon made its way into everyday conversation - including “pointing percy at the porcelain” and “spearing the bearded clam”.
 
THE MAN FROM HONG KONG (1975)
Two years after Bruce Lee’s untimely death when martial arts movies were flooding the market, Australia’s premiere action specialist, writer/director Brian Trenchard-Smith (BMX BANDITS), brought “Asia’s Steve McQueen” Jimmy Wang Yu downunder to star opposite our very own James Bond, George Lazenby, in this fast and furious chopsocky classic. Wang Yu played a Chinese Dirty Harry who arrives in Sydney - and wrecks the place in the name of justice!
 
Not wasting time with pointless exposition, the film begins with a fist fight and chopper chase located at Ayer’s Rock and ends with Lazenby actually set on fire during a climactic karate fight sequence.
 
LONG WEEKEND (1979)
This superior ecological thriller was written by Ozploitation’s most prolific screenwriter, Everett DeRoche (PATRICK, ROADGAMES, RAZORBACK) – an ex-pat American who relocated from California to Melbourne in 1968 to avoid the Vietnam draft and spend his days surfing.
 
An unhappily married couple (John Hargreaves and Briony Behets) decide that a weekend camping trip at an isolated beach might just help avoid divorce court. As well as lugging the camping gear, they take with them long simmering sexual aggression. Not only are they at each other’s throats but they thoughtlessly proceed to trash the environment. A bad decision, because as De Roche mused, “If people become too intrusive on the environment nature has its own immune system.”
 
The film did no business in Australia where the flora and fauna wasn’t perceived as overly threatening to local cinemagoers – but overseas, audiences were attracted to, and unsettled by, what they perceived as an exotic but menacing environment.
 
MAD MAX (1979)
I understand that most Americans only became acquainted with the character of Max Rockatansky courtesy of THE ROAD WARRIOR (1982), but us Aussies had either been to the drive-in to see the original MAD MAX or marveled at the striking one sheet poster branded with an R-rating that we knew meant it was packed with violence.
 
Seeing the film was a mind-boggling, jaw-dropping experience. Everything looked dangerous… because it was. There was no undercranking of the camera - everything was shot at real speed. Just check out the speedo on the Goose’s motorcycle – it’s hitting 180km an hour!
 
It is now the stuff of legend how this was all put together by a locum doctor (George Miller) and his inexperienced production partner (Byron Kennedy). On DAY ONE, the original lead actress Rosie Bailey suffered a fractured femur riding on the back of stuntman Grant Page’s motorbike, which was hit by a semi-trailer truck. She was replaced – but Page, who was knocked unconscious, suffering facial and internal abdominal injuries and a fractured left fibula, returned to work, covered in plaster and working in a wheelchair.
 
The best example of the film’s get-the-shot-by-any-means aesthetic is the scene where the Nightrider’s car collides with a petrol bowser with the use of a genuine government ordinance rocket! The result was a stunning tour-de-force and, in my humble opinion, the film’s onscreen kinetic energy has never been matched. 
 
ROADGAMES (1981) 
ROADGAMES drew its inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW (1954) – but set the voyeuristic narrative in a truck! Stacy Keach plays Quid, a self-employed truck driver. Accompanied by his faithful dingo, Bosworth, he transports a long-haul cargo of refrigerated pig carcasses across the Nullarbor Plain. During the journey he amuses himself by playing 'road games’ in which he makes idle speculations about his fellow travelers, delivered as pithy monologues. He picks up a female thumb tripper named Hitch (reining Scream Queen at the time, Jamie Lee Curtis) and they soon find themselves sharing the bitumen with a serial killer.
 
Directed by the late, great Richard Franklin (PSYCHO II, CLOAK & DAGGER), ROADGAMES features a scene I shamelessly appropriated for GIRL AT THE WINDOW. It involves Stacy Keach having a conversation out loud with his inner voice – it’s so original and daring, but totally works. He is arguing with himself about whether there are any extra carcasses hanging in the truck. It’s a smart moment amongst many other smart scenes in that amazing film. 
 
RAZORBACK (1984)
Music Video maestro Russell Mulcahy (HIGHLANDER) made his feature film debut with this tale of giant feral bore terrorizing the same region of outback Australia where MAD MAX 2 (aka THE ROAD WARRIOR) was filmed.
 
In Australia we got US talent on the way up or the way down. The producer’s hoped that TRAPPER JOHN M.D. star Gregory Harrison was about to “pop” so recruited him over Jeff Bridges. Harrison’s retrospective slant on the film was, “it was style over substance – but there was a lot of style”.
He’s not wrong there. Shot by Oscar winning cinematographer Dean Semler and visually staged by Mulcahy at the height of his music video prowess, it’s still for my money the best-looking Australian film.
 
Seemingly as with all films relying on giant mechanical creatures, the full-size mechanical pig didn’t perform as required. It cost $250,000 – but blink and you’ll miss it. According to Mulcahy all the wider shots of the razorback consisted of a real pig with a blanket thrown over it with some polystyrene tusks. Thankfully, Ozploitation scene stealers David Argue and Chris Haywood are on hand to hijack the film from the marauding pig. Their characters Bennie and Dicko are by far the most terrifying creatures on screen.