Sunday, November 2, 2008

Not Quite Ozploitation: Britzploitation?

I've discussed the newly-named subgenre called "Ozploitation" a lot over the last year. What with Mark Hartley's Not Quite Hollywood putting a focus on it and the current debate surrounding Australian film in general. As the Oz industry continues to turn more towards genre filmmaking (the latest, Dying Breed, is out next Thursday) I found it interesting to sit down and watch Neil Marshall's Doomdsay and discover that it is the most "ozploitation" title made in the last 20 years.

One has to imagine that Marshall - director of the great little werewolf flick Dog Soldiers as well as the stunning and terrifying The Descent - had just had a Mad Max marathon in his living room before sitting down to write this quite absurd movie. Not to mention Dead End Drive-In, Deathcheaters and an endless loop of Keith Flint.

Doomsday has everything that the Aussie genre films of the '70s and '80s reveled in. Post apocalyptic setting? Check! Deranged bands of desert-dwelling psychopaths with punk-styled haircuts and leather outfits? Check! Crazy pimped-out cars and ammunition? Check! Car chases down long stretches of highway? Check! Increasingly ridiculous gore? Check! Stars of another era "slumming" for a paycheck? Check! Chicks with their tits out? Not so much.

It's a shame then that Neil Marshall's film doesn't have half of the larrakin spirit of the films of Brian Trenchard-Smith. Those films have a deranged innocence about them. They were rarely great films, but are good guarantees for a decent fun time at the movies (or, DVD, naturally). They tend to have more imagination and bravura than Hollywood action/horror flicks of the same variety. And if Marshall was indeed going for that same vibe then he failed with his messy direction, uncomfortably arch seriousness and frenetic over-direction.

Part of the ozploitation charm is watching how the obvious lack of funds was overcome, yet here it appears as if money was thrown at the depressed art direction and ugly make-up departments. The action scenes are completely undecipherable apart from one chase sequence involving a steam engine, which is legitimately tense and exciting. Considering the entire movie is essentially one big long action sequence it all becomes more than monotonous and dull. A climactic car chase sequence is inventive, but not even half as exciting as the similarly-inspired one from Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof - a far better example of a film also inspired by Australian genre pics.

I hope Marshall goes back to the scare factory after this folly in the world of action/horror. And perhaps this films relatively dismal worldwide box office (it went direct-to-DVD here in Australia) will mean he gives this thing a miss next time he decides to recreate 28 Days Later. D+

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