As 2012 begins, InterVision has decided to take a break from the straight-to-video 1980’s horror material they’ve become known for and return to the erotic style of their early releases. This time, it’s a pair of Australian titles by John Lamond, Australia After Dark and The ABC’s Of Love & Sex Australia Style. While they have a few rough edges, both discs have something to offer the mondo/sexploitation fanbase.
Each title is presented in an anamorphic transfer. The ABC’s Of Love And Sex Australia Style fares best visually, offering a rich color palette and doing a nice job of capturing that soft, glossy look unique to 1970’s sexploitation fare. Fans will be happy to know this transfer is fully uncut and includes the Swedish sex-show performer footage that was cut for theatrical and previous video releases.
Some have speculated that the Australia After Dark disc is a PAL conversion and the resulting image looks it, with a soft, sometimes slightly blurred look that isn’t as colorful as it should be. As for sound, both stick to the original mono mixes. ABC’s has a bit of hiss in spots where the music takes the lead but most sounds solid while Australia After Dark sounds decent all the way through.
The extras portion of each disc focuses around a single but substantial bonus feature: a commentary track that pairs director/co-writer Lamond with documentarian Mark Hartley, who essentially cornered the market on Aussie exploitation fare with his doc Not Quite Hollywood.
Each track is an action-packed affair. On Australia After Dark, Lamond lays out how he used the film to break into directing by making some cheap, commercially exploitative and modeled after Mondo Cane. He reveals that despite all the recreations and falsified scenes, he did a lot of research to find real-life characters and odd situations that reflected the Australian experience circa 1975. There’s also an interesting stretch where he discusses his work with Aussie distributor Roadshow and how observing audiences while on the job influenced his filmmaking style. Hartley adds plenty of questions to the mix, points out all the Lamond repertory actors in the recreations and throws out some interesting stats and press quotes, to boot.
On The ABC’s Of Love And Sex Australia Style, the same commentary approach is maintained. Lamond discusses how he chose a light, playful style to the erotica on display to counteract potential charges of pornography, not to mention the complexities of dealing with the local censors as well as social critics (he recounts a fun anecdote in which a feminist actually defended him when a reporter called him a pornographer). There’s also some interesting material about how Lamond had to travel to Sweden to film the more explicit sequences with real sex-show performers. Hartley again asks plenty of questions and has info on every cast member, including the sex-show performers.
The only downside to these commentaries is that Hartley can sometimes get carried away with his moderating duties. He controls the tracks a little too tightly, tending to change subjects abruptly and sometimes cutting off Lamond in the process. He also sometimes lays on the hip, irreverent attitude too thickly, as on the Australia After Dark disc when he dismisses Mondo Cane out of hand and even tells Lamond that one sequence in his film isn’t that interesting so he wants to discuss something else(!). That said, Hartley knows his stuff about Aussiesploitation and has a solid rapport with Lamond so these tracks are worth the listen despite the occasional attitude overload.
The one real complaint extras wise is that there is John D. Lamond trailer reel listed on the back of both discs, yet no such reel appears on either title. If viewers want to see such a reel, they’ll have to check out Severin’s disc of Nightmares from last year.
Despite the occasional minor technical flaw, the rarity of both titles ensures they are worthwhile to the domestic audience for this kind of mondo/sexploitation material. In fact, they might consider those rough edges part of the charm. All in all, these discs are a solid effort overall and hopefully a sign that InterVision might add more 1970’s material to their repertoire.
For Schlockmania’s film review of Australia After Dark, click here.
For Schlockmania’s film review of The ABC’s Of Love & Sex Australia Style, click here.