Case Number 09955: Small Claims Court

SAVAGE SINEMA FROM DOWN UNDER

Marauders
Subversive Cinema // 1987 // 74 Minutes // Not Rated
Sensitive New Age Killer
Subversive Cinema // 1999 // 84 Minutes // Not Rated
Defenceless
Subversive Cinema // 2004 // 98 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 4th, 2006

The Charge

Chunder from down under.

The Case

Subversive Cinema is a studio that has made a name for itself by tracking down far-out overseas releases and bringing them to your DVD player. This latest assemblage collects three films from Australian shock auteur Mark Savage, makes the films over with spiffy transfers, loads on some special features, and ties it all together with a slick bit of packaging. But is the substance there to match the style?

* Sensitive New Age Killer

Paul Moder plays Paul, a wannabe hitman trying to climb the assassin career ladder. But he's not a mindless brute, slaughtering any who gets in his way. No, he lives by the motto of "killing only people who deserve it." When he was younger, he witnessed the legendary hitman, The Snake, come to the rescue of the neighborhood prostitute and has sought emulate him since then.

His latest job will allow him to meet his idol for the first time. Contracted to take out a major gangster, Paul is determined to do the hit and earn some instant street credibility. But he's got some obstacles on his path to assassin superstardom. There's the hornball cop (Caroline Block) who's blackmailing him for sex, his slippery partner (Kevin Hopkins), and his untrusting wife (Helen Hopkins). Worse, he'll discover that his hero The Snake may not be all he's envisioned him to be. Plus there's all that gunfire. Lots and lots and lots of gunfire.

First of all, what a terrific name for a movie. Secondly, the movie actually lives up to the coolness of that title. Sensitive New Age Killer (from here on to be referred to as SNAK) is an ultra-violent hitman flick, peppered with some truly dark humor. In fact, it's probably best described as a black comedy peppered with mucho violence. Either way, it's a dope little movie.

Moder is solid as the conflicted killed Paul. He's got a decent heart, only wants to waste scumbags, and nurtures an idyllic vision of what it is to be a hitman. In his own perverse way, he actually thinks he can help people by smoking others. The hard lesson is, of course, that no matter how nice and sensitive and selfless you may try to be, killing people for work surrounds you with insatiable characters and you'll ultimately have start shooting people in the head. SNAK is dark, funny, sleazy and bloody as all get-out. Recommended if you dig that sort of thing.

The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks fine and is supported by a decent 2.0 stereo mix. The two big-time features are the feature-length commentary with Mark Savage, co-writer David Richardson and stars Kevin Hopkins, Paul Moder, Carolyn Block, Frank Bren and Helen Hopkins and a great retrospective interviewing all the participants. Some bios and still gallery finish things off.

* Marauders

Don't expect a serpentine plot. Marauders is trash cinema through violence and new wave hairdos. JD (Zero Montana, possibly the greatest name ever) and Emilio (Colin Savage) are two friends who are complete white trash delinquents. They live for lounging around and picking fights, but their slacker exterior hides a much more dangerous persona. These clowns are ruthless killers and they don't forget grudges.

Following a morning of beating the crap out of significant others and killing moms, these two guys loiter on the streets, searching for the next caper to embroil themselves in. Well, that adventure finds them, when JD is clipped by a hit-and-run driver named David (Paul Harrington), also a jackass.

The rest of the film is simply JD and Emilio taking to the road to track down David and his girlfriend so they can exact revenge. Along the way, they sexually assault a woman, rob a pub, beat the crap out of kid walking down the road and generally bring the wrath of the townsfolk down upon them. Meanwhile, David is striking out with his girlfriend. The final 15 minutes finds JD, Emilio and David facing off with a gaggle of pissed-off, axe-wielding village folk.

This flick is pretty nasty, and downright nihilistic. Pretty much everyone, except for the poor girl lured to the cabin to have sex with David, is an utter tool in this film, and rightfully deserve comeuppance. JD and Emilio (who has a coiffure that has to be seen to believed) are great creations, completely without merit, eliciting zero sympathy, basically a-holes to the tenth power. And if David hadn't hit one of them in the knee (which really happened) and kicked off a blood feud, perhaps the three could have been kindred spirits.

Marauders doesn't have a social message, or at least I didn't catch one. I suppose if you really tried, you could drum up something about the maligned youth of today or society's focus on conflict resolution through violence, but really, this movie is all about idiots getting what they deserve. For fans of zero-budget exploitation, I'd say Marauder deserves a look-see; it's violent, profane, fairly pointless, gratuitous and entertaining as all get-out.

The movie was shot on video and looks about as good as it's going to look. A full frame picture and 2.0 stereo sound don't impress on the technical end, but that's kin of what gives low-budget crap like this its charm. Some noteworthy extras: a fun, reminiscing commentary track with director Mark Savage and the cast, a 30-minute retrospective documentary, bios, a still gallery, and an exhaustive production booklet.

* Defenceless

And then there's this vicious little number. Defenceless is Savage's much-heralded revenge saga, which chronicles the I Spit On Your Grave-like exploits of a scorned and battered woman, who takes vengeance into her own hands, with disgusting results. Oh, and the entire 100-minute film is dialogue-free.

A nameless woman (Susanne Hausschmid) is pressured to sell her prime ocean-front property to some unscrupulous developers. She resists, and the developers turn to sinister tactics to get her to sell. And they don't even build up to the big stuff; they kill her family members, threaten her daughter, rape and decapitate her lesbian lover, then finally brutalize and rape her, before dumping her into the ocean.

Months later, she emerges, newly infused with murderous intentions to avenge her loved ones and herself, and one by one, those that did her harm find themselves tortured, stabbed, castrated, and killed.

This flick is as hardcore as the above synopsis makes it sound. The silent treatment is a little bit much in the beginning, but once the violence goes down, you won't even notice the lack of dialogue. Defenceless is subtitled "A Blood Symphony" for good reason: it is cringing mayhem set to music.

Easily the hardest of the three movies in the package, Defenceless boasts imagery that made me jump. Two words, kids: knife rape. But the favor is returned big time when the rapist has his genitals savaged, sliced off and stuffed in his mouth, all in vivid detail.

The story meanders was out into left field at some points (are developers this evil?) and it runs a bit too long at 100 minutes, but overall, Defenceless is a harrowing import, over-the-top and disturbing all at once. And Hausschmid's performance is astonishing.

The film looks very good, given a crisp 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The 2.0 stereo mix just pushes soundtrack, but it does it fine. As with the other two discs, Defenceless sports an excellent cast and director commentary track, a robust making-of featurette, some bios, stills, and a production diary booklet.

Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice, Marauders
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile, Marauders
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 74 Minutes
Release Year: 1987
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Marauders
* Cast and Director Comemntary
* Making-of Feature
* Cast and Crew Bios
* Still Gallery
* Production Diary Booklet

Scales of Justice, Sensitive New Age Killer
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile, Sensitive New Age Killer
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Sensitive New Age Killer
* Cast and Director Comemntary
* Making-of Feature
* Cast and Crew Bios
* Still Gallery
* Production Diary Booklet

Scales of Justice, Defenceless
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, Defenceless
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Defenceless
* Cast and Director Comemntary
* Making-of Feature
* Cast and Crew Bios
* Still Gallery
* Production Diary Booklet

Accomplices
* IMDb: Marauders
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0359658/

* IMDb: Sensitive New-Age Killer
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0256375/

* IMDb: Defenceless
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0419679/