After dark, Judge Paul Pritchard goes by the name Stephanie.
"Ah, look at that rack; you don't see craftsmanship like that these days!"
Those with an interest in the Australian bush should find themselves well catered for with Australia After Dark, as director John Lamond's slice of Ozploitation features female nudity aplenty.
There's no plot to speak of, but narrator Hayes Gordon guides us through the seamy underbelly of Australia, where naked young women writhe around in paint in the name of art and bondage parties are commonplace. As titillating as that may sound, you'll find yourself spending just as much time watching hairy men partaking in dehydrated boat races as you will the more saucy material. Thanks to some wild swings in tone, you're likely to find any enjoyment of the naked female form cut short when Australia After Dark gets all serious on us and highlights the plight of the Aborigines. Such moments are dealt with in a serious manner—as they should be—and would be more affecting had they not been sandwiched between scenes of topless beauties frolicking on the beach and twenty-eight-stone men downing ridiculous amounts of beer.
Worse still, Lamond's documentary is all too frequently guilty of being boring. Parts like a segment on UFO sightings or an overlong sequence where a mustachioed gentleman gets a rubdown from two naked ladies are about as thrilling as a two-hour lecture on file management. Occasionally things do pick up, as is evidenced by Lamond's visit to the set of a porn film where an overzealous director insists on stopping his star man, mid-thrust, to demonstrate exactly what it is he is after, but this is not enough to save the film. In attempting to cram in so much, with seemingly little thought put into the sequencing of the film, Australia After Dark never really finds any consistency. It stutters and starts for the entirety of its 82-minute runtime.
Intervision's DVD release features a 1.78:1 transfer. Picture quality is hampered by the state of the print, which shows signs of damage and is on the soft side. Colors lack vibrancy, while detail levels are generally poor. The mono soundtrack is reasonably clear, but lacks crispness. The sole special feature is a commentary track featuring director John Lamond and Mark Hartley, director of the exceptional Not Quite Hollywood, which offered a fascinating look at the history of Ozploitation. The commentary track is the highlight of the package, as it is both informative and entertaining. Lamond in particular makes for an entertaining host, as he shows a remarkable knowledge of the exploitation genre, and offers up some fun anecdotes of his time making Australia After Dark.
Australia After Dark, originally released in 1975, will most likely be enjoyed most by those with more than just a passing interest in Ozploitation, as in truth Lamond's film is rarely as racy as it purports to be. In many ways—particularly by today's standards—Australia After Dark feels almost quaint, as even the scenes of romping at a supposed witches' coven fail to push boundaries. Hell, considering Ken Russell's The Devils had been released in 1971, Australia After Dark probably felt tame back in the day, too. I can't bring myself to totally condemn it though, as it offers some genuinely fun moments, and is an interesting footnote in the history of Australian exploitation cinema. As such, if your interest in Aussie cinema goes beyond Crocodile Dundee, and you are prepared for one or two unexpected shifts in tone, then Australia After Dark is worthy of consideration.
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