A Journey through creative minds!

Welcome to Oz Indie Cinema.

Just ten months ago, a friend asked me to be an extra in his movie Cult Girls.  I was totally blown away by the experience of there being an armourer with real guns, stars like Jane Badler, a crew of make up artists, big lights, cameras, dollies and gibs and a horde of extras.

At first, I thought it was something unique, but pretty soon, I was being invited onto more feature movie sets like The Last Hope, The Perfect Nonsense and The Manifesto Chronicles: The Betrayal.  I couldn’t believe that so many feature movies were being produced in little ‘ole Melbourne.  I also got invited to some film festivals where I saw recently finished feature movies such as The Sheborg Massacre, Red Sky Candidate 5238 and Mondo Yakuza.

The quality of the indie movies coming out of Melbourne is very high, although the budgets are sometimes shoe string.  This means that the people behind these movies have to be extremely creative and innovative.  I’m often amazed at how some of these directors manage to make movies that look like they have multi million dollar budgets for just tens of thousands of dollars …… but in a place like Melbourne, where talent and enthusiasm abound, I suppose it’s more a case of finding out the details and secrets because the raw materials needed are already there within the people themselves.

I’m hoping to interview some of these talented people over time and bring you their stories.  Let’s go on a journey of discovery together and uncover their secrets and find out just how their minds work.  Each week, I will endeavour to bring one new story.


David Black

Michael – At the helm of Ozploitation

David Black interviews Michael Helms of Fatal Visions


DB – Today, I’m chatting with an amazing guy who’s been active in the Australian indie movie industry as a writer, publisher and distributor for a massive 30 years or so.  I first heard of Michael Helms when his magazine, “Fatal Visions” graced the racks of those Melbourne shops that stocked zines back in the 1980’s.  Michael didn’t just write about local movies though, he also distributed them.  I saw the infamous Melbourne vampire flick, “Bloodlust” at the State Film Theatre in 1992 thanks to his efforts.  All these years later, I’m collecting up the Ozploitation movies released on his Fatal Visions label, such as Cat Sick Blues, Mondo Yakuza and Sheborg Massacre.  Without Michael, many of these would not have made it to the dvd shelves.  It’s an honour to be able to speak with a man who has helped so many and fed my appetite for local horror movies over the last few decades.



Hi Michael, thanks for taking the time to chat to me today.  You’ve worked tirelessly within the local indie movie industry for years.  Fatal Visions mag ran from 1988 – 1998, which is an amazing run for a fanzine.  Can I ask what attracted you to horror, action and exploitation movies originally?


MH – Sure, several salient points bleed into each other: Being raised Catholic helps a lot. From the outset you are told what you can’t watch or do (actually, that sounds like a completely modern corporate plan performed by HR departments across the planet in dealing with a company’s major liability: their employees) and that a severe punishment is waiting for any sort of transgression. At the very least Catholicism can create a deep appreciation of darkness and fear (especially of concepts of The Devil) and even art. It can also make rebels of the more strong-minded. You wouldn’t believe how many dedicated horror filmmakers are Catholics by family but not conviction and who readily agree that this particular religion really made them horror fiends.

Secondly, as a child of the 60s, being born at the end of the baby boomer cycle meant that at this particular juncture in history there was an overflow of horror goodness surrounding me at the most impressionable age. In the late 60s/early 70s from rubber monsters and the Scanlen’s version of horror movie bubble gum cards at the local milk bar to monster masks, Deadly Earnest and horror movies on TV in general, and going to Burke’s ACTU department store to pick up the Aurora model kit of, “The Victim”, with your mother, an interest in horror movies could easily become a 24/7 thing especially if you are encouraged to be an Arts lover and supporter, which I was. From a very young age and as an avid reader of everything I could lay my eyes on, I felt constantly let down by mainstream media especially daily newspapers who even I could see were blindly accepting the ad dollars from the distributors of films just for the privilege of placing large and lurid advertising in their publications without providing any sort of editorial response. When the odd review of a horror film did appear in the daily press it was rarely positive and often snide, principally designed to make the writer look good but in an entirely imperious manner. At this point I think I made some sort of vow to myself that one day I was somehow going to turn around this, ‘love to hate you’, approach to horror films.


Years later I came across a couple of these pompous blowhard daily print critics in a completely reactionary situation after a preview screening of BRAIN DAMAGE that involved the brandishing of a walking stick at the female publicist. My empathy for distributors ballooned although it would not be a smooth relationship especially when major distributors would treat their own horror products with contempt. At the time, besides Deadly Earnest, there was only one place to turn for critical responses to horror films: the Catholic Church. In the weekly publication The Advocate they carried comprehensive title listings for the latest releases. They were rated by being divided into columns, one of which was for, ‘advised against’ films. Of course, unintentionally, these films instantly became the most desired and sought after especially for those who wouldn’t be able to legally view them until many years later.      

Most importantly I was brought up in a house that was lined with books. Never underestimate the power of literature, nor as a source for cheap films when their copyright has expired. Everyone in my family had a subscription to something. Even though I ended up getting The Story Of Pop every week and that helped create another important part of me, I can cite two books that directly influenced the reason we’re talking today: Play Power by Richard Neville & Horror Movies by Carlos Clarens. Both books were the first things I borrowed as an 8 year old from a certain suburban library not long after it opened. Over a period of months I got my Dad to photocopy (a new technology then) nearly every page of the Clarens book especially the pictures. Incredibly, some of these photocopies still exist today while lots of the historically interesting faxes (like Larry Buchanan explaining how he wasn’t up for an interview or Ollie Martin chewing up nearly a whole fax roll to tell us everything we wanted to know about HOUSEBOAT HORROR when he realised that we were very serious about horror) that were sent to Fatal Visions in the 80s and printed on thermal paper that allowed them to fade away faster than the runs of many of our favourite films, which were often given the shortest of release windows.

Play Power was all about the documenting of youth or new culture in Oz magazine, and became engulfed in the most drawn out and expensive obscenity case ever put upon a publication in a court of law. I already knew I was attracted to horror films because of their ability to take on and present numerous contentious issues. I liked how they needled and provoked people including myself and felt that this wasn’t just a matter of personal taste but one of almost social political communications that needed to be continued and supported. The mission was taking form. Armed with my growing collection of horror film ads cut out of daily newspapers, a growing horror film book library (I also decided then to build the largest horror film book library I could, something I’m still working nearly 50 years later) and my knowledge of the legal travails of Oz magazine I felt prepared to fight any battle regarding the public display of love for horror films. I began to get vocal and argumentative with anyone about horror films. Then I discovered Space Age Books, the precursor to Minotaur Books, who began importing American fanzines emerging from the messy era of the mimeograph (Mum was a teacher and the Roneo machine was an every day tool) with thick offset printed publications jam packed with stills and in the case of one, the very smart Photon out of New York, each issue actually contained a beautiful black and white 8” by 10” still from a horror film. As a matter of fact, a framed copy of filmmaker Tod Browning surrounded by his cast members from FREAKS sits just above my head right now. I was also heavily influenced by early issues of Cinefantastique, in terms of writing and analysis and layout and design but especially for their coverage of Euro-horror (which of course, wasn’t labelled as such then).



DB – Amazing!  Let’s chat about the Fatal Visions fanzine Michael.  Most of the younger generations won’t understand the difficulties and risks involved with publishing way back in the 80’s and 90’s.  Blogging on the web is easy and anyone can get their story up within minutes with just the click of a button.  You don’t have to get bromides of pics, print out type, cut it with a scalpel and metal ruler and then lay it out by hand and paste it onto graph paper.  There are no costs for physically printing and none of the hassles of carting the mags to outlets or the cost of postage.

I published 3 zines way back then (Gooby Comics, Sartorial Titbits and St Kilda Funnies) that were stocked at Greville Records and Minotaur Books, so I remember Fatal Visions well.  It looked good and really stood out.   But what I recall most was the risk of pushing the bar too far.

You were there in the bad old days of the 80’s and 90’s when there was always the chance of being busted and having the police seize your product.  Publishers and shops that were brave enough risked legal charges and hefty fines.  Amongst those I remember being hit were Missing Link records around 1981 who had stock seized and faced the beak for displaying a Dead Kennedys single. Local cartoonist, Fred Negro was also hit, when his booklet “Fred Nile Suck This” was declared obscene and confiscated in 1985.  Also Polyester copped it a few times over.  They were raided the first time in 1997, their shelves emptied, and the owner, Paul Elliott got fined.   Was this ever a concern for you Michael?



MH – Personally, I really dug the opportunity to hand assemble the first six issues of Fatal Visions and believe it thoroughly grounded me in the basics of publishing. Things like dealing with contributors and their copy, editing, proofing, layout, marketing, promotion, distribution, schedules, postage and freight, expenses, budgets, previews, advertisers, filmmakers, interviewees, publicists, retailers and perhaps the most important: deadlines. No matter what production method is utilised publishing is always labour-intense, as you yourself might have experienced. I think you should use this understanding to prime yourself to present the best version of your work possible and not become lazy at the last minute just to get it quickly to the printers or online. Despite electronic publishing allowing you the luxury of fixing your work on the fly with a sly edit or two, as far as I’m concerned dead tree technology is a superior publishing medium in every way. Especially if you’re some whiney millennial who thinks google is the sole receptacle of world history.  

As far as content is concerned I knew that what I was doing with Fatal Visions should it receive mainstream attention, could provoke adverse reactions way beyond the small but loyal band who took it to their hearts and minds. You can only live in hope. What I’m referring to here is the serial killer component to Fatal Visions. Violent onscreen death is integral to horror movies as is the monster that performs it. The interest in serial killers who have always been a part of film history and an ongoing and long time fascination for humanity in general, reached some sort of peak during the 90s. Thanks to Fatal Visions friend & columnist David Nolte, the editor and founder of the zine Crimson Celluloid originally out of Sydney, who I found a contact address for in the letters page (edited by Graham Kennedy) in what was perhaps Australia’s best consumer video magazine The Video Age, we had a direct line to some of the world’s most infamous prisoners (the previously mentioned FREAKS pic presently sits next to a Manson original). So, why not utilise this vast and untapped resource?  Nolte was and remains Australia’s most prolific pen pal to local and international serial killers and his interviewing technique and style is humorous and second to none and by the way, continues to this day. However, despite publishing what could sometimes be described as jailbird ravings was also able to offer insight into the mythical world of Snuff film production, which I’d never seen written about before especially from the perspective of production and distribution. You’ll notice that the second Fatal Visions compilation book contains very little serial killer material. This was a conscientious decision simply predicated on the fact that some of it especially the Snuff film related material, had been reprinted in the first two versions of the fantastic book Killing For Culture by David Kerekes and David Slater. They utilised even further FV material and new interviews with Nolte and I in their incredible re-worked and much-expanded edition published in 2016 that was sub-titled From Edison to ISIS and A New History Of Death On Film, altogether, a highly recommended work that should be of great significance to all sorts of horror enthusiasts.

Despite the busts you mentioned I was only ever really concerned about Fatal Visions not receiving attention and then any sort of attention, even the wrong kind. Getting charged with sedition was something of a career ambition for a while but in retrospect it’s perhaps good that I’m yet to achieve it. Also, I think that culturally within Australia the emphasis had shifted from literature to videotape by the mid 80s. Of those events you mention above most of them were connected to music and packaging infringements and bootlegs but I’ll always remember the Polyester bust that was conducted by the Federal Police and one representative from the O.F.L.C who asked then proprietor Paul Elliott, “Could you please show us to some of the tapes we’re supposed to be confiscating?” Wouldn’t you know it that that raid and one would have to suspect the few like it, were being conducted by knuckleheads who couldn’t even do their own research! The next Fatal Visions book will include further investigation into dealings with the authorities by independent distributors and others. Even though FV received a massive amount of vhs tapes we were never once given a letter of warning that an item had been confiscated. Yes, it’s true that it only takes one complaint from one person to send you into a downward legal spiral but Fatal Visions simply never received one. Instead the most common gripe was the age old, “When’s the next issue?” even if you’d just slapped the latest issue into their hands.    



DB – From writing about films and publishing, you moved into distributing them. Was this a natural pathway that presented itself, or was it something that you had to pursue?  Way back then, discovering information on anything non mainstream wasn’t easy so finding the films must have been hard. Can you tell us how you got into film distribution?

MH – First of all I was always interested in film as industry. It always helps to look at it more closely in those often seemingly endless gaps between the releases of really cool films. Keeping your ear to the ground and eyeballs constantly immersed in everything from the latest trash film fanzine to the variety of industry mags that in the late 80s/early 90s could even be found in the largest and best newsagents (McGills in Elizabeth Street for example, now long gone) was the best way to proceed. Attending film festivals wherever they may be is also a definite must. Nowadays it seems to be the only way I can watch a lot of films at once is at festivals. Working for an advertising company that was also a partner in FV and had associated businesses in distribution, exhibition and even a little bit of production, made the whole process not only highly organic and natural with highly exchangeable information flying around corridors at all times but enticing. With FV attracting interest from filmmakers from the beginning this was also a major fillip especially when we got into promoting screenings and developing a short-lived film national festival that did attract a major film distributor (but they wouldn’t let us show any more of their horror product). Same as now you could always glean information from others by simply talking. I have never abandoned writing and see it as more important than ever before actually. It just matters how you do it and where you put it.



DB – At the time that you were handling Bloodlust, there were a number of indie movies being made, such as “In Too Deep”, “Salt, Saliva, Sperm and Sweat”, “Dogs In Space” and “Done 2 Death.”  Some made it to the shelves of our local the video shops while others were not so lucky and have been forgotten.  I only knew about Done 2 Death because it was shown at a house in Acland St, in a similar way to how indie short film nights get run at pubs nowadays.  As for “In Too Deep”, I didn’t manage to see it until recently, despite having been an extra in it.

This obscure era is almost lost to time.  It comes after the golden age of Ozploitation, which was fuelled by a tax concession called 10ba.  It ended with the digital revolution that made filming and editing cheaper and easier while online platforms enabled distribution to the masses.  You were as close to the heart of it as anyone could get.  Can you tell us a bit about this crazy time?


MH – Let’s say from Mark Savage’s MARAUDERS, the first feature shot on tape in Australia circa 1986 (and never officially released here in any format other than at special one-off and festival screenings) which I’d learned about from Philip Brophy and Bruce Milne’s EEEK! radio show and screenings at the Melbourne Super 8 group. Yes, things would get busier but it didn’t happen overnight and I wouldn’t call it crazy activity in fact it would be nearly five years before the next comparable film would go into production: BLOODLUST.

The producers of BLOODLUST spent most of their $75,000 budget on hiring a three-chip TV broadcast standard camera and an operator. By the end of the decade you could buy such cameras for under $500.00 at the nearest JB! However, after BLOODUST was completed and had travelled right around Australia four times with various festival appearances (which in itself was pretty amazing considering it only existed on video tape and projection wasn’t half the thing as this projected world we now live in, much less the ability to be programmed at all), the chatter factor was amplified and suddenly it had a set a benchmark that everyone thought they could beat. Everyone included everybody from film-schooled genre fans to people who probably had never previously thought about even making a film. Peter Jackson’s BRAINDEAD which was shot in 1993 (after BAD TASTE & MEET THE FEEBLES) soon began to create waves of influence across the planet and when BODY MELT was shot a year later in Melbourne and began to receive it’s own very spotty theatrical release there was more than a moment of, “Bloody Hell, there really is a genre explosion going on!” But it never really panned out. Nonetheless, an output that became a solid dribble did eventuate.


Out of Sydney came MAD BOMBER IN LOVE while country Victoria produced MAD MAX piss-take RANKO. Melbourne hosted DAWN OF THE D.M.Fs while BLOODLUST co-writer & co-director Richard Wolstencroft shot DELIVER US FROM EVIL and then PEARLS BEFORE SWINE. DAWN, DELIVER and PEARLS all remain unreleased in Australia with DELIVER still in post-production. Even Tasmania chipped in with the destined to be unseen gore-fest BACK FROM THE DEAD. Queensland produced DEMONS IN MY HEAD and naturally with Warner Roadshow Studios nearby on the Gold Coast it was perhaps inevitable that more little films would originate from there. Across the pond in Wellington a low budget film about killer lizards in a snowbound environment called ABERRATION was made in a co-production situation with a British film company and Grundy Films who despite their ability to produce TV and establish themselves as an international production powerhouse only ever made two features. The other being ABBA: THE MOVIE. ABERRATION received tape releases in some territories but largely remains buried with the exception of a Fatal Visions screening in 1997. A little film made in Melbourne called STYGIAN produced by some very keen RMIT students, drew the attention of Madman Entertainment, genre distributors on the rise, who advertised it in one of their catalogues but failed to release it.

From the turn of the century no-budget production has definitely been on the upswing with technology getting even cheaper but one early win was Mark Savage’s low budget SENSITIVE NEW AGE KILLER which saw his attention to twisted detail pay-off with a national release into multiplexes. Nothing like that release has really happened since though.

Unfortunately, as noted, many of the films mentioned above and quite a few others haven’t achieved any sort of release.  So, while the Fatal Visions label will attempt to bring the widest range of new genre films to rapidly shrinking Australian retail spaces, until we can establish a Fatal Past retrospective release line, then they may forever remain unreleased. Or until streaming can broaden it’s own content and play schedules.


DB – Michael, you’ve been active over four decades, publishing and distributing in what many would see as an obscure genre that has little support.  Ozploitation is now re-emerging with a new generation of fans.  There are many hopping onto the band wagon now but you’ve slogged it out for all this time and have been vital to keeping the torch going. Has it been hard to maintain enthusiasm over all these years during the lulls?

MH – That’s one of the questions I frequently ask filmmakers who rarely come up with any sort of satisfactory answer on the spot. Even little films act like unstoppable juggernauts once in production and are difficult to walk away from especially if you’ve designed and lived with the project for sometimes years before actually making it. For every film I write about there seems to be almost as many that don’t quite make it across the line no matter who is attached to them. I often reassure myself though with the observation that there are several things that are constant in life: death, taxes and horror films. There’s always something on the way. Maybe it will be the next hardcore horror winner!

Of course, you can always do the obvious and that is go and watch a horror film! CAT SICK BLUES should do it for you…



DB –   What have been some of the highlights of your career so far Michael?  I’m sure that you must have a few really wild stories to tell!

MH – While I forever remain proud of the title Weird Film Expert that was bestowed on me by People magazine when I wrote for them in the early 90s, that’s hardly a wild thing. I could mention my absolute surprise and shock discovery of unisex showers when I was on the set of BRAINDEAD actually in a shower but for the minute it’s going to be this: On a Sunday morning just before dawn I found myself reluctantly driving towards a ‘set’ at the end of the earth outer suburb of Bayswater. Next to a building that was so decayed it barely existed but housed their minimal catering services and a nice backdrop for all of the characters to be photographed next to, I was soon under a bridge standing next to the director who was wearing a fully functional hyper-dermic needle glove on one hand and in the other held a camera that he was using to shoot a scene involving the Bruce Campbell–type lead and the needle fingers.

The actor was stationed out of sight on the other side of the bridge so the director had to set it all up with him via a walkie talkie to get him to run towards him but stop in a certain spot. Simultaneously he ordered me a cup of coffee while filming and got the shot with a minimal amount of takes. All the while he also kept conversing with passing production assistants as he was well into setting up the next shot. He also operated his needle fingers himself leaving me simply amazed that he could remain so focussed with so many distractions and communicate effectively with everybody at all times and even seem to enjoy it! Actor Michael J. Fox once told me that directing was like being nibbled to death by ducks and wasn’t for him after earning his sole directorial credit on a TALES FROM THE CRYPT episode. The name of the director was James Wan and the film was STYGIAN. To this day I have never seen anyone multi-task like James Wan on a film set and let me tell you from Peter Jackson to Alex Proyas and the Wachowski siblings and beyond, I’ve witnessed some of the biggest names in filmmaking working on some of the biggest most expensive sets and none of them have ever even come close to demonstrating such natural and almost casual ease on a film set as that kid did. I was never surprised that his career in filmmaking has had the trajectory that it has.  



DB – I believe that the next couple of releases on Fatal Visions are a zombie movie “The Last Hope” and Daniel Armstrong’s latest release “Tarnation.”  I’ll be excited to see them because I had a small involvement with both.

With the first one, I helped them achieve their massive zombie horde by getting the newspaper articles in The Leader and Star Weekly newspapers that went viral.  I was also the zombie on the front cover of five Star Weekly mastheads.

With the latter one, Tarnation, I got to be the scarecrow extra in the bonus feature, “God vs Oscar”.

I haven’t seen either movie yet though, so please, tell me about them.


MH – THE LAST HOPE is a viral outbreak survival film that utilizes as you describe, a massive amount of zombie extras. I think it’s actually something of a record for an Australian no-budget film. Undoubtedly, it also helped THE LAST HOPE become the first ever Monster Fest film to sell out three sessions. But while it’s one thing to logistically organise several hundred extras onto a location set (and one of the two directors has indeed practical logistical organisational skills developed from his day job in the Australian Army) but it’s a totally different thing to actually have make-up applied (by a team of 30) and give them direction that makes them look and act like a totally dangerous and out of control mob, especially one that seems to be only concerned with swallowing the still steaming entrails of their non-diseased victims. Amazingly the two directors Leigh Ormsby & Glenn Ellis also portray two main characters in THE LAST HOPE and also film it!

Joining previous films MURDERDROME, FROM PARTS UNKNOWN and last years SHEBORG MASSACRE (also a Fatal Visions label film), TARNATION is what director and no-budget auteur Daniel Armstrong describes as his first real horror film. A spam in a cabin film that Armstrong likes to emphasize with an oversize poster for the EVIL DEAD soundtrack that just about dwarfs all the actors who appear near it, TARNATION also includes a black unicorn, some impressive wing flapping flight from one of the main characters, demon possession and naturally enough a superb sense of non-stop mayhem. It’s also perhaps Armstrong’s most psychedelic film.

THE LAST HOPE is due for release in April while you can expect TARNATION out in May. There will be at least one other Fatal Visions release before the end of the year.




DB – Thanks for taking the time to chat to me today Michael.  I normally make a comment here about how interesting the chat is, or something along those lines, but my mind has been totally blown away by all of this.  Do you have any links where people can keep up to date with your work?


Links go here –



The struggles of a new a movie company

An honest and brutal account of the creation of Chapter 5 studios.  David Black interviews their CEO,  James Di Martino

I recently had the pleasure of being in a short film called “5 O’clock”, which was set way back in the rugged Aussie bushranger era.  I must say that I was impressed to be on a shoot with some of the most sought after people in the local indie movie industry such as the armourer – John Fox, actor – Albert Goikhman, and sfx make up artist – Emma Rose.

To get up to this level, Chapter 5 had already produced 4 amazing short films.  I didn’t want to let the chance slip through my fingers to interview their CEO, James Di Martino.  Not that he had a choice really, because we were so far out the back of Bourke that even the kangas didn’t know where the legendary black stump was.  This was the sort of remote place that even psycho killers are afraid of, so James just had to humour me.

pic2         Albert Goikhman on the the set of “5 O’Clock”


David – Hi James, thanks for taking the time to chat to me today for Oz Indie Cinema.  Can you tell me a bit about your personal background?  I mean, this is a tough industry, so what possessed you to get so deeply involved?  I just want to make sure that you aren’t crazy.

James – From a young age I had a love for the big screen. Good movies were always something I enjoyed and It didn’t take me long to understand what was good quality and what was made with the intent of just making money.  There was a period of time where I just watched Asian cinema and loved it. However, I never really had much love for Australian stories.  Yes there are greats such as Mad Max, Crocodile Dundee and Wolf Creek but I always had a desire for good story telling.  I guess it’s those memories that drove me to create a business that focused on creating interesting unique stories.



David – I believe that we both have something in common in that we started our movie careers after having recovered from cancer.  I know that’s something that can be a personal subject, but I was hoping you could share that with us.

James  – When I was 18, I was unlucky to get diagnosed with cancer and while I don’t want to dwell too long on that facet, it was a traumatising experience that gave me a perception of life I never knew existed. My personal trials and ordeals in turn helped me to become a stronger person and also understand human emotions at a much deeper level.  This actually helps me direct today.

Upon recovery I decided I was going to make a film, without any experience.  I was a university student in business at the time.   I went off and made a feature film which went for 2 hours. The film took about a year to make with friends, but I soon learned you can’t make a film with friends.

I broke into a warehouse and somehow was able to film in a church by just asking. When I edited the film and showed people my reception was poor, first it was a fan film, “Double V Vega”, a film set as a prequel to reservoir dogs and pulp fiction. It was a film Quentin Tarantino never made, so I could never do anything with it but I realised that I had no idea what I was doing. The film was made on a budget of $150 and we had no sound equipment in fact it was shot on handy cams.

I considered this project to be a complete failure of a year’s hard work. What I did not know was that I developed skills. Very important to my later life decision on what not to do when making a film or writing a script.

Pic4          James himself, on the set of “5 O’Clock”


David – Seeing as you felt that your first effort was a failure, what did you do after that?  Many people just give up, but you obviously kept going.

James – I spent the next three years working. I worked bottom line life-guarding and gym instructing where I got bullied and abused for showing too much enthusiasm. My idea at the time was that I could motivate people due to my past story, the only problem was that the people in positions of power never saw what I saw. Its really depressing when you want to do something to benefit people have all these ideas but are burned and betrayed at every step of the way.



David – James, that is depressing.  So you recovered, threw yourself into something, only to find yourself being bullied and ground down?  How did you turn all of that around?

James – I moved to working in different sections such as sales and one day just snapped.
“Why was I working for people that did not care?”

I always thought I could do a better job as a manager and was never given a chance.
“I literally said fuck it, I am making movies now”
So I started up Chapter 5 studios with the sole intent of making quality films from Australia.



David – Good on you James!  Kudos!  Can I ask how you go about starting up a whole film company?  Most just struggle to get one film off the ground, but to actually decide to create the whole shebang is sort of ambitious.

James – I went back to University to do a masters in marketing, which really helped me out starting the company. The amount of business skills you need in the film industry is ironically more than people think. My ultimate idea was that with the power of film, I could tell the stories and get the reach I wanted to and be my own boss. “Creativity Ink,” the book written by Pixar founder John Lesseter, was also a motivating factor which gave me the courage to start Chapter 5 studios.

My brother Marco chose to help me with a vast knowledge of science background he was very analytical.  This is a trade David Mamet said to be a very strong factor is what differentiates good writing.  Daniel Facciolo who I knew had a desire to act and manage a business from my days life-guarding.


David – So now that you’ve studied and have your dream team together, tell us about your very first Chapter 5 film.

James – I soon realised that running a business was hard. Very hard and its even harder to keep employees when little money is coming in. The goal of making the company was to provide quality services and production which leads to the very first short film “The Lazy Barber”



“The Lazy Barber” came about with the recent beard trend, and the promise to make a marketing campaign for the lazy barber company, which my cousin was running and he in turn made our website.

I wrote the script and then with the help of my team we made the story of the Bearded God. I was then tasked with the difficulty to find a man with a god like beard. I spent a day on star now and somehow found someone I thought was the perfect casting choice. AJ Kelly loved the script and came down to do the role. I always respect the fact he came when we had very little to show that we could make something good.

While The bearded god scenes all came out good I made a mistake of casting a non-actor. This is a decision I would come to never do again and I blame myself. A non-actor was chosen as he was the face of the lazy barber. What happened after that was a puzzle of files, and there was up to 20 takes per shot!

“The film from every one’s point of view was that it was un-editable”



That left everyone depressed. We were unsure if the film was useable.  Hell it may have been a write off, but due to my brothers amazing editing we ended up with a project that was decent and no one would question we had major problems with.

The Lazy Barber went on to get 10K views on Facebook as well as win the Audience Choice Award at the Short and Sweet Festival 2017. Not bad for a film we did not grade or use any lighting equipment on.

David – One down, three more to come.  I believe that you have four finished films and two in post-production?   Your first Chapter 5 film has now been a success, despite a brush with near disaster.  I believe that you’ve finished four all up and have two in the editing suite.  Can you tell us about your second film?

James – Our second film was written and directed by my brother for Tropfest. Daniel was given the task to lead with me as a support. I guess it’s always good if the manager of the company knows how to act. “Coinflipper” is about a gambler unable to make complex decisions and thus uses a coin.

pic10 Tritia DeViSha


Tritia DeVisha brought a lot of experience we did not have at the time and was very helpful. The production ran smoothly but the technical side did not. I quickly learned that this was a problem in the independent industry when money is scarce.

We made the shortlist for tropfest but the film was unfinished, the sound was not completed so we knew we would not win. My brother spent 2 months fixing the audio. “Coinflipper” went on to win best short film at Melbourne underground film festival 2017. This shows how much editing and polishing can do to a film.



David – You worked with Tritia DeViSha?  I’m working with her on a hosted horror series called Horror House.  My experience with her was the same in that she came in and pretty much saved the project with her brilliant acting and by sharing her experience in producing films with me.

OK James, now onto film number 3!  Let’s hear the story.

James – After “Coinflipper” I lost two members of the team. This is an industry were people drop off all the time. It’s a hard business to crack, and when most people don’t see the money they flee. Having said that I did what any mad man would do and jumped straight into another short film.

My brother had a desire to act and thus he presented me a comedy about an eccentric painter on a mission to make the best painting in the world a short film called , “The painted world of Alasius Pinkarmy”.



I directed with Daniel and over 3 days we shot the film, a total of 40 hours.  “I don’t remember leaving the house for three days”

The film ended up in post for over 8 months and taught me a lot about the importance of doing things right on the production line.  I also learned the importance of a proper shot list.   I always look back and think I would do things so differently.  Having said that the film went on to win two film awards at the Oniros film festival in Italy. Best Acting went to Marco Di Martino and Best Costume was won by Saphire Gaskas.



David – So onward and upward.  I can see the struggle and the rise of the studio so far.  Now to film number four ……

James –  “Congratulations” was a small project I was working on as a way to improve the team. I had a desire to play around with 4th wall breaking for a while and wanted to experiment. The initial goal was to make a short for Sundance, but I learnt that getting in is very, very hard.

I was lucky to get two very talented actors in Sinead Brown and Damian Oheme. Both actors helped me to grow as a director and I feel they both got a lot out of this project.

The film won a few awards including best actress for Sinead Brown at the Top inide film awards, but the story requires a bit of thought and it did not appeal to the majority. It still remains our most under rated film.



David – Now that we’ve covered the first four movies, which are now out, let’s move on to the two in post-production.  What can we expect here James?

James – After “Congratulations” I really needed to work on the core structure of the production line. I needed to fix sound problems and other things that hindered our work. This was at the end of the day a business and I needed to put our egos aside and look at what was working and what was not. Rhys Sherring came on board and helped the business to grow and develop. This increased the quality of our next two shorts. Which were shot back to back pretty much.



“The Immigration game” Was written by Daniel Facciolo who had experience directing and acting. It was an experience I wanted Dan to have so he could understand the burden of the director.

The short follows a group of friends all of different ethnic but are born in Australia as they go on a hiking trip in the mountains only to be thrust into a game of survival as an ex-military psychopath tries to murder them or they escape and earn the right to live in Australia.


Daniel did a great job on his first ambitious short film and I can see this being a stand out for Daniel Reader who played a real sinister role in this film.



David – I saw a little bit of “The Immigration Game” on the screen at your recent wrap party and networking night.  It looked crisp with nice editing.  I’m dying to hear about “5 O’Clock” though.  Mainly because I’m in it! lol

James – “Five O’Clock” was made as a proof of concept for a film or TV show Pilot. Thus, the pre-production on getting an 1880 film was monstrous.


pic18 Emma Rose, “The Queen of Gore,” creating exit wounds and rigging up spurting blood

It took a good three months of Prep and I have to thank Matthew Holmes for his help.  Matthew recently brought out the block buster “The Legend of Ben Hall”, which is set in a similar era.

The plot, which takes  inspiration from Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” and “Hateful eight,” takes a look at the alternative history where we see the remnants of the Kelly gang as washed up con men, trying to gamble a rich merchant out of money but he happens to be a very important person who has to meet the towns Sargent at “Five O’Clock” sharp.



The shoot was very successful and we managed to film a shoot out sequence that is quite impressive. Expert armorer John Fox, who has worked on big budget films such as Ned Kelly, Killer Elite and HBO show the pacific, was a big help in helping with stunts as well as making the set very safe.  We were using real blanks and guns.



David – With four completed shorts and two in post, what are your plans now?
James – The plan is to have 7 shorts.  We have one more to go to be directed by Rhys Sherring.  After that, we want to then sell all of them as a feature. Use the shorts as concepts for potential series and then move on to bigger projects.

Chapter 5 studios aims to make a feature film and a TV pilot in 2018 so stay tuned. The story has just begun.

David – That is one amazing story James.  I thank you for having me on 5’Oclock too.  Can you give us some links so that we can keep up to date with all the projects of Chapter 5?



You can follow Chapter 5 Studios here:




And for those mentioned within the article:

Albert Goikhman

Emma Rose

Tritia DeVisha

The Legend of Ben Hall

John Fox, armourer

David Black

Ozploitation massacres the USA!

David Black chats to Nathan Hill about his film career and his compilation dvd, Ozploitation Massacre



Hi everyone, today I’m going to be chatting to Aussie producer, director and actor, Nathan Hill, about his shocking new dvd compilation “Ozploitation Massacre” which has been released by the American distributor, SRS cinema.

Wikipedia describes Ozploitation as being “a category of low-budget horror, comedy, and action films – made in Australia after the introduction of the R rating in 1971.”  The term itself is attributed to Quentin Tarantino when he spoke of the genre in the 2008 documentary “Not Quite Hollywood”, although he did call it “Aussiesploitation”.

Nathan Hill’s work goes back even earlier than that though.  He is credited on IMDB as producing a short film called “The Hidden” in 1993 and has been extremely active ever since.  Well, today we are going to shed some light on this man.  No more lurking in the shadows for Nathan!



DB – Hi Nathan.  Thanks for making the time to chat to me today.  It’s amazing that you’ve actually cracked the American market from here by having a compilation dvd released of some of your Ozploitation movies.  You’ve worked hard in the local movie industry for years, so it’s no surprise to see your success.  I was wondering if you could give us a bit of a backgrounder on your career so far?

NH – Hey Dave, great to talk to you again.  Yeah look it’s hard to simplify my career as I’ve pretty much had my hands in all the pies as far as filmmaking is concerned. I won’t go into my film studies but it does amount to 10 years of schooling all up on the subject.  I first worked in television as a professional camera assistant and then as a production manager and then freelance video editor. I’m also a professional actor and have 3 major commercials on air at the moment, including cinema. I’ve just directed my ninth feature film and I’ve lost count how many I’ve acted in.



DB – Ozploitation Massacre has 3 features and 1 short, all on a 2 disc set.  I know that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the work you’ve done, but it is a good little sampler.  Can we go over each film in turn?  Can you tell us a bit about each one, starting with “Hyde and Seek”?

NH – ‘Hyde and Seek’ was my first professional short film which was released on DVD in AU and NZ in 2004.  It’s my own interpretation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde told from the perspective of Utterson, his best friend and lawyer.  The full length version of the screenplay actually won Shriekfest in L.A.


This DVD I saw on eBay recently going for a staggering $100.00!  Goes to show it actually has become a true collectors item.  It’s very hard to get as they only pressed 500 copies back then, which sold out in a week, so to have it as part of the Ozploitation Massacre compilation is just wonderful.  I have to thank Ron Brown for seeing my vision and accepting me.  He quoted me recently as being ‘underrated’ and ‘under-seen’.  With the help of SRS I’m hoping to push through some boundaries that I have not been able to do locally, sadly.

It’s funny how much America seems to love me more than my own country, at the best of times, still not sure exactly why.  I’d hate to think that the tall poppy syndrome has actually leaked it’s way into the artistic realm, like film, we’ll have to wait and see.



DB – OK, one down, three to go.  Now tell us about “Séance”

NH – ‘Seance’ was a more personal type film released in 2011.  It is still the only movie I’ve shot that was never properly entered into a film festival.  After the release of ‘Tomboys’ people were expecting big things.  The truth is I was in the middle of trying to get my occult thriller ‘Black Mass’ funded at the time I was shooting ‘Seance’, that in reality was more of an experimental film whilst I was waiting on funding, that unfortunately crashed for me.

I do like the movie though, the underwater shooting that we did, the slow burning tone, and the themes in it.  I enjoyed making it.  It was also a good bookend for my lead Daniel Rankin, who had come off ‘Tomboys’ pretty emotionally drained and I didn’t want that to be his final experience with me on a set, hence I gave him the role in ‘Seance’ as kind of a gift.



DB – And now “The Hidden”

NH – Wow!  The Hidden, shot in 1993 for God’s sake.  Now who in the hell would of thought my first ever full length movie SOV could or would have got a release nearly 25 years later, and in America?!

To me that is incredible and must be some kind of a record.  It feels really good to have it on the Bluray compilation along with the other horror films that I’ve made, as that really was my grass roots.  My horror films have become thrillers, and I’ve even moved into action and comedy of late.

I enjoy all genres, and I never want to be pigeon holed.  Hence the reason I’ve made so many different types of movies and had all sorts of distributors around the world.  It’s quite remarkable when you realise they are all shot on micro budgets.  In fact for some of them I never even intended to get a release so it’s really special that all my films, have in one way or another, found a home and are accessible to the public.



DB – And last, but certainly not least … a favourite of mine that I reviewed in an earlier article – Tomboys!

NH – Tomboys, shot in 2009 and still arguably my best film to date.  I know it’s your favourite of mine too Dave.  It’s the same with my music composer Jamie Murgatroyd, he just loves it.  It really was the benchmark film for the SRS deal and I strongly believe it’s the reason for the Ozploitaiton Massacre Bluray in the first place.

I did offer it to Monster Pictures a while back and they said no.  But I guess I have to thank them now as that instead turned my eye towards America again, who have always been kind to me, and this release is much more exciting than what the locals could have done for me anyway.  

I might also add that both ‘Tomboys’ and ‘The Hidden’ have been released through SRS on VHS as well! As I’m an 80’s baby and I used to work in video stores when VHS was thriving,  I find this just the bomb!  You can even get a poster that comes with the video when you purchase it, I mean these guys really know what they’re doing.  Ron at SRS is also a filmmaker and made the grind house movie ‘She Kills’ that I simply adore.

It’s been great to become partners with these guys. We are already talking about doing a separate worldwide release and special edition of ‘Tomboys’ next Feb. 2018. It’s just incredible, and the support I’ve been craving for a while.



DB – My head is still spinning that you managed to get a foot hold in the USA with Ozploitation Massacre.  That really is a massive achievement.  I believe that it is only the start though.  Can you tell us about what you have planned next?

NH – Good question. My dealings with SRS has led me to some other very exciting opportunities.  I’ve recently befriended Tony at Body Bag Films and we have collaborated on a short film that is getting a release next year though Troma on a compilation DVD.  I’m over the moon, as Lloyd is on board and ‘The Toxic Avenger’ truly was one of my fav’s as a kid, so I’m stoked to be getting one of my titles on their label.

Tony and I have another one up our sleeve on top of this, but I won’t let that cat out of the bag just yet. Things are firing up I’ll tell you Dave. And with two of my recent films currently available on Amazon Prime, I got a call from Tony the other day telling me I was taking over the globe!  Haha it’s just such an enjoyable time for me as a filmmaker and I’m so glad I have a few more tricks up my sleeve for 2018 and beyond, it’s really exciting.



DB – Do you have any links so that we can keep up to date with what you are doing, and even get hold of some of these little gems?

NH – http://www.nhp.net.au



DB – Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today Nathan.  I’m sure we will be chatting again soon when your next big release comes out.


Long night of the short films

David Black chats about indie short film nights


While the big, classy movie mags tend to concentrate on all the glitz and glamour of prestigious film festivals like Cannes, Raindance and MIFF, the true heart of the industry lies with the myriad of much smaller short movie nights that are regularly held across the world.  From Wigan in England to Williamstown in Melbourne, enthusiastic directors, actors and extras flock to a plethora of interesting and occasionally strange venues to share and watch amateur pictures on the small screen.


These indispensable events are an incubator for new and sometimes bizarre ideas. Here, cinematographers have the freedom to experiment, go wild and test things out in front of a live audience.  They also get valuable feedback from their peers on the night, so it’s also a bit of a collaborative effort in learning.

The big name directors and actors of tomorrow can be found at these very occasions. In fact, two of the films shown in the past, at the regular event that I’m about to cover, were nominated for Oscars.  One was “Deeper than Yesterday” by Ariel Kleiman.


I was recently invited by Tom Vogel to be the MC at his night, West Side Shorts.  This is Melbourne’s longest running regular short film night, having started around 9 years ago.  It’s held on the second Tuesday each month at Customs House hotel in the beautiful beach side suburb of Williamstown.  It’s a lovely venue that uses large wooden wine barrels for decoration and has no shortage of claw machine games, filled with little plastic footballs to win.

This isn’t the only short film night in Melbourne though.  My introduction to these events was at “Boogie Nights,” which was on the opposite side of town at a small quirky pub in Abbotsford called the Boogie Man Bar.  Their main room was decorated with guitars and rock posters, as well as a display of dusty souvenir teaspoons from around Australia which sat near the cash register.  The beer garden at the back had outdoor toilets with a wash basin between them made of stones and sea shells.


I still remember the excitement that I felt when I attended my first ever indie short film night there.  It was like a mini academy awards with some of the actors and extras dressed to the nines.  West Side Shorts differed in that attire was very casual.  So much so, that I hosted the night with my shirt half untucked and no one noticed.  That wasn’t intentional, by the way.


Indie movie nights differ from the film festivals that I’ve attended as they are relaxed, friendly and far less pretentious.  You go along to make friends with fellow creatives rather than to be seen and photographed on the red carpet.

One of the big highlights is the Q&A session at the end of each screening.  This is when avid film makers nervously stand before the crowd and try to give a bit of background on their creation and field questions from the audience.  It’s good practice too for that day when some of them will be standing on a big stage, with the bright lights glaring into their eyes as they eagerly accept their awards.


Our night featured 8 short movies for seven dollars, with a chook raffle at the end.  Quite often, local film distribution companies help the indie industry by donating dvd’s.  The film makers themselves sometimes throw in a few products as well.  There was no shortage of prizes on this night and although it was a full house, many of the patrons took away movies, original framed artworks, comic books and bottles of wine.


Of the 8 films shown, there were a few standouts.  Tom Vogel himself had a film screening.  A quite offbeat one called “8 Letter Word”.  This little off the wall gem was originally made for Tropfest but didn’t make the cut.  Tom felt that this could have been due to it being a bit risqué, however this was more of a comedy masterpiece and it had the audience rolling around the floor with laughter.

Then there was the sentimental “Walter” by Patrick Slee.  This was the third in a series that follows the life of a band throughout the decades.  Patrick is self taught with the camera, having learned from YouTube tutorials.  The high production quality, choice of shots and tight editing would have you thinking that this was from a major commercial TV network.


One last mention should go to Matt Reynold’s film, “A Girls Best Friend.”  The author, Bec Caldwell, said “This script completely came about by accident. I was writing a little two hander scene between a cop and a ‘rough’ chick, intending to use it as a showreel scene or audition piece. After I had written that, I researched my character so much that I accidentally wrote an entire plot around it.”

Matt added “I had been assisting with script notes but suddenly I found myself directing a film. This was the first film I directed without also being the writer, because of that it presented a set of new challenges for me, typically I make a great deal of my decisions as a director while writing the story where as now I was figuring out how to make the film while pushing through a fast moving pre production.”


All up, I found the night to be absolutely amazing.  There was something about it all that had me floating home with a similar euphoria as the one many actors experience when they’ve finished a fantastic shoot.  I’m guessing that it’s the enthusiasm and camaraderie of all the creative people there that make such a event so magical.  Although I love a good film festival, it’s the short film nights that will always have my heart!


All pictures in this article were taken by Tom Vogel

A Girls Best Friend

Deeper than Yesterday

West Side Shorts

Innuendo – the bad twin. Twice the value!

David Black reviews Saara Lamberg’s feature debut, “Innuendo” and opening night.

Movie premieres can be quite a glamorous affair, but when the movie is an Australian, indie arthouse movie, like “Innuendo”, things can be very strange indeed!  I must say that this is the first film I’ve been to where I was handed a pencil and paper so that I could draw the naked models onstage!  I apologise that I forgot to take a pic of that to share.


Andy Hazel (Thomas), Saara Lamberg (Writer Director Producer, Tuuli/Suvi), Brendan Bacon (Ben)

The movie premiered at Melbourne’s beautiful Cinema Nova, in Carlton, to a full house.  Saara made it a fascinating event with life models on stage, prizes and a Q&A at the end.  This was a magical night and I am glad to share my impressions of the movie with you.


Saara Lamberg’s first feature movie, Innuendo, is described on IMDB as follows:
When a mysterious young woman starts a new life as an art model, will her demons leave her alone or finally reveal the naked truth?

I consider this to be a very important piece of Aussie cinema, and this will become apparent as you read my review.


Innuendo is written, directed and produced by Saara, who also stars in it.  It was partly shot in her country of birth, Finland, which gives the movie a very interesting contrast of European arthouse styling by the Finnish director of photography- Eero Vihavainen, and a very classic Aussie feel by the Australian dop – Michael Liparota.  The shift between both works well due to our main character’s childhood being in Finland while the drama unfolding is in Australia.  The Euro style enhances that dream like quality to the flashbacks.

The overall vibe is reminiscent of many of the legendary 1970’s indie classics from downunder, such as Picnic at Hanging Rock, Sunday Too Far Away, Walkabout and The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith.  This makes Innuendo a vital link between the present school of film makers and the greats from the heyday of the Aussie indie movie industry.


Sometimes its the small things that just blow me away.  That little bit of extra care which might not be immediately noticed, but has a major effect on the audience.  In this case, its the mood shots between the main action.  These could simply be a bug crawling up a long blade of grass with the sound of a diggeridoo or jews harp in the background, or a slow pan of the detail in a sculpture against the over reverbed thud of industrial machinery.  Saara has carefuly chosen these images in conjunction with with the editor Adam Ghiggino and composer Charly Harrison.

She also hasn’t been afraid to push the bar and explore taboo subjects. The IMDB description talks of “female inner demons,” and vital to understanding these is the exploration adolescent sexuality and experiences.  I don’t believe that the story would make sense without these, yet, so many of today’s’ local film makers would not have the intestinal fortitude to touch on this area.

The characters are all quite off beat, yet at the same time, believable.  Brendan Bacon does a brilliant job as Ben, a bogan artist with an open mind.  His performance stands out because bogan and open minded aren’t usually something that fit into the same sentence.


Saara plays the roles of the twin sisters Tuuli and Suvi.  She brings a certain something to this that I can’t quite put into words.  How do you describe someone who is able to draw you in without words during scenes that can often be quite moody and contemplative?  It’s not an easy skill to engage the audience when things are dark and silent, but she keeps you there, locked in and afraid to look away in case you miss that vital cue.


Aside from the main characters, there’s a who’s who of local indie actors that you see in many of the Australian features that are coming out now, such as Naomi Lisner, who plays Sally the art teacher.  She can be seen in the upcoming films, Hannah and Tracy.


Naomi Lisner

All up, the movie is riveting, offbeat and has a fantastic twist at the end that you just don’t see coming.  It does get a bit slow in places, although that pacing is pretty much in line with the Aussie indie movies of the 70’s.  I would recommend this to adults only, but not so much due to the nudity as for the psychological themes.  If you collect Indie Aussie movies, or are starting a collection, then you will have to have this one.  It’s Saara’s debut as a feature director and you can see that she is going to become a big name.

Acting – 8
Cinematography – 7
Plot/ Screenplay – 8
Setting/ Theme – 8
Buyability – 8
Recyclability – 10

You can still see Innuendo at Cinema Nova on Tues 24th and Wed 25th October http://www.cinemanova.com.au/films/innuendo

Links:      Facebook  IMDB

Marital Problems – Bros Before Hoes??

David Black reviews the Aussie indie movie, “Marital Problems”


I’ve just finished watching a quirky, Aussie indie movie called “Marital Problems.”  The description on the IMDB is “On the eve of his eviction, Ian’s home becomes invaded by Clarke, an unscrupulous gardener who recounts the events of his failed marriage in attempt to bring closure to Ian’s prior engagement that failed to go the distance.”

The movie poster itself looks pretty mainstream, but this film is so off the wall that neither the poster nor the description really do this movie justice.  At times, it reminds me of “Alice in Wonderland” in the way that we meet some crazy characters along the way who end up giving us deep insights into life.  All the while, most of this occurs within the most Australian of settings where 3 guys sit around drinking beer and talking crap.


Callum Gault as Ian.  Photo by Lone Viking

Our main character, Ian, is played by Callum Gault.  Callum has been acting since his school days and it shows.  He brings a gritty realism to this role of a man who is tired and broken, and just trying to understand.  He does a fantastic job of keeping it believable when the situations are often absurd.


Nick Capper as Clarke.  Photo by Lone Viking

Nick Capper plays the role of Clarke, our “unscrupulous gardener”.  Nick has an extensive history in stand-up comedy and been in quite a few TV series, such as “Bruce” and “Phrankurtville.”  There are times when he has you roaring with laughter and other times that you just cringe.   Callum and Nick make a great team and the synergy shows more as the film progresses.

Neil Goldsmith plays the handyman, McManus.  He is more of the straight guy, or at least as straight as you can be in such a strange movie.  Without Neil’s performance, the sheer craziness of Ian and Clarke might have become a bit too far fetched.  Neil manages to pull off the role of being the average Aussie bloke convincingly when the situations are far from being normal.  He even manages that when his own actions are a bit on the crazy side.


Of course, there can be no movie about marital problems without the female love interest.  Completing our four main cast is Aleis Duffy.  Prior to this, she appeared in the TV comedy, “Henry Haus.”  Her performances in both productions show her to be versatile and I’ll be looking out for her in any future shows she is in.  For now, I can’t say any more about her in this role without giving away important elements of the story line.


Aleis Duffy.  Photo by Lone Viking

One thing that struck me with this movie was the amazing choices of colour palette for different scenes.  I realise that colourists don’t usually get a look in when it comes to reviews but this really did stand out and enhance the feel of the movie greatly.  This was the work of the DOP, Mark Kenfield.  I’m not sure if he also chose some of the cutaway shots, but these were also well done.  When moving from one main scene to another, the choice of little scenes, such as rain drops hitting puddles, or fast moving city scapes at night, really give this movie its own unique feel.

Another thing, that might go unnoticed by many, are the cameos within the movie by the crew.  The director, Dia Taylor appears as an animal shelter employee.  The producer and screenwriter, Julian Barbor (also known as Jay Edward), is there as a writer.  And in vibe with the strangeness of the story, Jay told me that what he was writing in the scene, is the actual scene you are watching.


All up, the movie will appeal to those who love strange Aussie independent movies.  I’m more a lover of Ozploitation, horror and sci fi, so it wasn’t quite my cup of tea.  It was worth breaking myself out of my comfort zone to watch this though.  Partly because I recognised so many friends in it, but mainly because it has pathos, deep insights on life and strong characters.

Marital Problems will be showing next at the 18th Melbourne Undeground Film Festival, October 28 – November 23 2017 http://www.muff.com.au/

And is currently doing the film festival circuit.  More details can be found on their official facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/MaritalProblemsMovie/

Seven amazing, upcoming Aussie actors to watch out for!

David Black shares seven recent interviews he did with some amazing Aussie talent!

Hi everyone.  The main purpose of Oz Indie Cinema is to promote our local indie movie industry, but that hasn’t made me shy away from looking at various issues affecting the business.  Articles such as the ones I did on extras, crew and gender bias were very popular, very much to my surprise.  You, the readers, have determined that this is a niche blog, and I’ve found that articles which touch upon the big Hollywood productions end up going down like a lead balloon.  It seems that very few here want to read another story on the stuff that’s been done to death on the big mainstream sites.

Today, I have a serious issue to cover and I hope that it will be of interest to you.  It involves unscrupulous journalists who offer to sell interviews to actors who are hungry for the publicity.  Some approach Aussie actors because they know that in order to work in the USA that they must have a certain number of recent media outlets covering their work.  It’s made Australia a favourite target for these predators.

I first heard about this when reading facebook updates by some of the bigger movie industry bloggers who’d found themselves embroiled in vicious online fights for speaking out against the practice.  They were accused of preventing people from making a living.  It wasn’t that long afterward that I found myself being approached on various social media platforms by people offering to cover my projects for a fee.  Real journalists do not charge for articles.  They chase up stories that they feel are news worthy and present them to the public.

I decided that the best way to counter this practice for our local industry was to do the same sorts of articles for upcoming actors for free.  I had an account on a blog that I’d almost forgotten about and it was time to put it to good use.  It seemed a low risk place to do what I thought were going to be formularised, cheesecake articles – bunged out quickly and of very little value other than vanity for the interviewees.

It seems that I was wrong about the platform and the value of these articles and I’m glad to admit that.  In the process of doing these stories, I discovered some amazing Aussie talent.  I first thought that I was just interviewing back ground extras of little experience but this certainly wasn’t the case.  Some had done far more than I have in the industry and I got to share their amazing experiences.

In the process, I also found that the blog site itself was not just some crappy outlet.  The articles published actually did make it to the front page and got quite a good number of views.  They’d built a fair sized audience and I was lucky to be able to get a decent amount of views from their hard work.

So here I am, tail between my legs for having at first doubted the actors and the platform, but excited to present to you the first seven fantastic interviews I did with some amazing, upcoming Aussie actors on creators.co .

So …. Here are our magnificent seven!


  1. Rebecca Barrett – On the Highway to Hell? Or the Stairway to Heaven?



  1. Banging up a storm: My Interview With multi-Talented Actress Vanessa Gudgeon



  1. Fern Beth Conquers Australia!



  1. Cyclone Shellee will blow you away!



  1. Heads up British agents! – Callum Gault



  1. Laurinda Osborne …………. nerd by day, super hero by night



  1. Kooky British Actress makes her mark in Australia – Brigitte Jarvis


Four Successful Women Discuss Gender Bias

David Black chats to four successful women in the indie movie industry about the subject of gender bias.

Have you ever been happily trundling along, lost in a daze and feeling all is well in your own little world when suddenly ….. SPLODGE!!! You’ve stepped in it!  A sickly warm stench wafts up, assaults your nostrils and chokes you half to death while a swarm of angry blowflies appear out of the blue and circle around your head!

Well, ok, I haven’t had that quite happen to me on that scale.  It’s just the way I visualised a nasty situation that I recently found myself in.  It seems that one of the red hot issues in the Australian indie movie industry today is gender bias.

To put that into straight English, instead of the politically correct term of “gender bias” — some women feel that they are treated unfairly and not taken seriously due to being female.  They feel that they have lost out on opportunities they would have won otherwise if they were male.  It can even go further in that some feel that there is a casting couch, a glass ceiling in organisations and wage disparity.  Others feel that the roles that they are offered pander to stereotypes that are degrading to women.

So… how in hell did I manage to step into the stinky hot centre of such a distasteful issue?  Well, I had complaints that I haven’t given equal time to female film makers in my interviews, articles and movie reviews.  Also, on my recent Victorian Indie Movie Night, only one of the 11 film makers whose films were shown was female.  There is no refuting the numbers here, so I thought that to best explore the issue, I should just talk to some women in the industry and let them tell it in their own words.

Tonight, I will be chatting with Jackie Kerin, , Dia Taylor, Jessica Pearce and Raven Christina Corvus.

Jackie’s first IMDB entry has her appearing in Skyways back in 1979, but she started even earlier in 1976.  By comparison, Dia is pretty much the newcomer to the industry with 4 or 5 years industry experience.  Jessica is a producer and has worked on some large indie productions, such as Ben Hall. Between them, they can give us a good overview of the Aussie scene and how it has changed.

By comparison, Raven is from the USA.  She runs Fizzy TV and produces, directs and films White Noise Paranormal, Locked Into Darkness and Small Planet.  Raven’s answers should give us an idea if Australia really is just baby USA or if things are different here.


Jackie Kerin

DB – Hi everyone.  I appreciate you all being willing to talk about this subject. Can you each tell me a bit about your background?

Jackie – After growing up in Melbourne, I went straight from school to NIDA. It was 1973 and I graduated in 1975. I was young to be accepted. The focus at the Institute was theatre with a little radio and television training thrown in. In three years, we studied no Australian plays. I was aware that at least one Australian play had been written since ‘Summer of the Seventeenth Doll’ – ‘Don’s Party’. I didn’t imagine working in film, as there didn’t seem to be an Australian film industry.

Then in 1975,‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ was made. Suddenly acting in films seemed like a possibility. I Worked for 7 years in theatre, and television and short films and then in 1982 I played the lead in a horror feature, ‘Next of Kin’ directed by Tony Williams.

Around this time, I was feeling hungry for more education. The NIDA diploma was a practical course, my life had been sheltered and I was tired of my naivety. I traveled around Europe for a year, and on returning, lived in Central Australia on a remote community. I moved to Adelaide and studied for a Bachelor of Education and briefly experimented with teaching but soon drifted back into TV, making training films (John Cleese had turned corporate training films into a comedic art form), children’s shows and a mini series – ‘River Kings’. I moved to Fremantle and worked in theatre and eventually returned to Melbourne. I was away for 20 years.

For a while I worked on ‘Blue Heelers’ (when required) as the principal of Mt Thomas and had a guest spot on ‘Neighbours’ and ‘Dirt Game’. But these days I do the occasional ad and my focus is on storytelling in its traditional form and writing for children. I’m the current president of Storytelling Australia Victoria.

Dia – I’m a freelance Filmmaker and Videographer based in Melbourne.  I’ve been making films for the past 10 or so years but have only started in the industry in the last four.  To date I have Directed a feature film and 14 shorts and videos.

Jessica – I came from a Sales background. Originally from Brisbane, I moved to Melbourne five years ago and loved it. Still in Sales at the time, I had lost my passion for it and was looking for something different. I began to explore the idea of moving into the arts. I had never really thought of myself as a creative person even though I spent my child hood doing plays and in a house filled with music. After only one month of exploring options I found myself working as a Production Manager on music videos and short films. The phrase that I have used before, which can sound cliche but is accurate, I dipped my toe in the water and the river took me. 

I have since gone on to work as a Producer with an amazing group of incredibly talented people and launched a production company Running Panda Films with my first feature film The Legend of Ben Hall, web-series Waiting on Sound as well as six short films which have gained recognition internationally at a range of festivals. We have also launched in to the commercial space with our Running Panda Productions team. It is by far one of the most terrifying, exciting and rewarding things I have ever done.

Raven – I started filming and directing a reality show for my paranormal team White Noise. Then a few years later me and two friends started Fizzy TV to help people like us in the independant film industry get more exposure. Fizzy is now a Video On Demand site that is also on Roku, Amazon Fire and Google Play. I have been also filming and directing for Small Planet, Locked Into Darkness and a new project that will be submitted to a major netwok in the U.S. For now they all can be seen on Fizzy TV.


Dia Taylor

DB – have you experienced gender bias in the film industry, and if so, how did you deal with it

Jackie – – I entered the industry shortly after the bar was lifted on married women working full time in the public service. Equality was a subject of conversation and debate. There was a shift in thought on what women could and couldn’t do. After graduation, I moved back to Melbourne and I worked a lot in TV. My memory is that women were thin on the ground. You’d find women working as make-up artists, wardrobe and on continuity. Men wrote, directed, produced and camera, sound, lighting etc. were all operated by men.

The roIes I was given and the narratives were revealing of the male imagination: I was asked to ride a stallion, bare back and topless, be stripped naked and tossed into a pool and I was rescued by police minutes before my jealous boyfriend tried to throw me over a balcony. I was rejected from a job because my breasts were too small I was dressed in jeans so tight I had to lie down to pull up the zip, and when I asked if I could wear something more comfortable, the director reminded me, ‘You are paid to wear what I tell you to wear’. And then there was the director who assured me that if he gave me a lift to the location he wouldn’t fuck me.

I was young and went with the flow. It had not yet occurred to me that things could be different and people, no matter what their gender, had a place in the story making industry, in front of and behind the camera. When I saw ‘Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!’ and watched the actresses talking light-heartedly about these films, I wondered for a moment, why I hadn’t been able to be so enthusiastic.

In Fair Game, the woman may get her revenge but I found it very hard to watch this all the same. In Next of Kin , I too, defeat my stalker, I blew off his head.  Still, sometimes when I’m watching film and TV, I mutter to myself ‘PBA’ (‘Poor Bloody Actress) when I see them being raped and murdered for the forensic teams to dig up and dissect. I remember walking on a kid’s show in the 70s and talking to a Chinese Australian journalist who was cast to play a role. Musing about the work on offer, she remarked dryly that I was still in front of the game, anyone of Asian appearance had little chance of being cast. In fact anyone that wasn’t white was maginalised. So how did I deal with it? I distanced myself, went away and did some growing up.

Dia – I have to admit I have experienced both sides actually.  I was once hired on a film simply for the fact that I was female because the director and Producer were male, they wanted a female AD to balance things.  I did once lose out on a producing job because they wanted a male producer – no explanation why.  The way I see it is if someone hires or fires you simply because of your gender and not because of your skill level or experience then they’re really not someone you want to work with again.

Saying that though, I was once hired on a film with a rather raunchy scene with an actress.  She requested an all female crew to make her feel more comfortable which I do understand, so there are of course some exceptions to the rule.

One thing that I have noticed though, more so with actors is a sort of gender bias or stereotyping of actresses.  There are so many films out there with weak female characters who honestly could be replaced by a sexy lamp.

And so many films out there fail to even pass the bachdale test.

Not only this, But I have been witness to actresses being over sexualised on set.  We have so many amazingly talented actresses in this city and in the world that can do so much more than just play the girlfriend or love interest.

I see films that have stunning female love interests next to average joe leading men.

Jessica – As a Producer, I have both experienced and witnessed Gender Bias in the industry. There have been some instances early on where I was told ‘ you are a young girl, you don’t have what it takes’ etc. At the time, they were upsetting and made me incredibly angry. I since have realised something that has made the management of these interactions a lot easier. I wish to be treated as a person like anybody else. I choose to not make these interactions about my sex or my gender. Even if someone seems to make a direct attack at my ability to redo my role due to my gender, I do not carry this.

Once I worked with a male production member who I was conflicting with. He was argumentative and dismissive from which I immediately assumed that it was due to my being a woman and his superior. After many weeks of working together, I stopped one day and gave him positive feedback for what he had done well. The facade crumbled and he slumped and said thank you. He explained that the low budget shoot had been incredibly grueling and he was feeling way over his head with the schedule. In this moment, I realised I had been interpreting his remarks and attitude as an offence to me as a woman but the reality was he was just struggling in his own world and as his boss he was feeling a lot of pressure within the role. This still did not excuse his behaviour but allowed me a light-bulb moment to how I can choose how I receive what people throw at me in the industry.

With all of that said – some people are just unhappy, male and female, and there is nothing you can do to change their world. The best thing you can do is not let them change your world perspective.

Raven – I have experienced the gender bias in the film industry more than I would like to admit. When I tell anyone, be it in person or online, you get pretty much ignored. I have noticed in forums when you mention you direct or film it seems like they always gravitate the questions to the men.

I even have to remind my friends and family that I direct and film shows.

I went to film locations and have been totally looked over and they will start asking the men on the crew questions and then they will have to tell them that I am the one in charge. You get the “sorry I just assumed” I don’t get mad, all you can do is laugh, and let your work speak for itself.

What is even funnier is when you tell someone you are working on a horror series that you are going to write and film and they just look at your dumbfounded. It is even more rare to have a woman in the horror genre filming and directing. We are just thought of making “chick flicks”


Jessica Pearce

DB – how has it affected the way you do things today?

Jackie – It affects what I choose to watch which means there is still a lot I avoid. In 1992 my daughter was born and as she grew, I started to really notice – like it was no longer a peripheral awareness it was now really in in my face – the lack of representation of women, their stories and stories of all genders, sexualities and cultures! We moved into the western suburbs of Melbourne and the people around us were from all over the world.

Nothing in film and television resembled Footscray or the lives of the people travelling the Werribee line! When we discovered ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, I remember my daughter was hooked. Here at last was a hint of something different. And in her later teenage years we stumbled across stories with Queer themes and characters that explored women and sexuality in a deep way, like ‘The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister’. And later NITV came along and now there is so much more to choose from on TV and in the cinema.

I attended a workshop some time ago, delivered by a young person who explained what it was like not to fit the gender binary we impose and strengthen with our storytelling and myth making. They described so articulately how it feels to be invisible in story. Like having no reflection, no artistic explorations or commentaries on how to be and live. This made a huge impact on me as I realised, it was not only women and people of colour and different sexualities but also people of non-binary gender who were missing from the narratives. It’s exciting to see changes, small though they may be happening in our story telling. I guess the 70s and 80s primed my brain to think about these things.

Dia – It has and it hasn’t.  I like working with a mix of people.  I have a tight little circle of people I like to work with often who are both male and female.  I don’t think either gender is better suited to a particular role.  It’s the person and not the gender that you should look for.  Though I have noticed a lot more male sound recordists and female make up artists, I think this as well just comes down to personal preference with what roles people want to go into though.

Raven – It doesn’t affect how I do things. It should never change how you conduct yourself or treat others in the industry. We have to remember for so long woman were though of being in front of the camera and not behind it. It wasn’t that long ago woman in America didn’t even have the right to vote.

Jessica – I find my role to be an important one for setting the tone of the interpersonal relationships and environment of a production. There have been other examples of what I would deem gender bias but I have often found that people respect what I am doing and the role I bring to the table. I make it clear from the outset how I like to work and the expectations I have of those I work with, not as a woman, as a film maker and professional. I find that this sets a tone and clear bench mark for what is expected and how the production will operate. It is not always easy but I have found that this helps me determine very quickly how well we will work together and if it is the right fit as well as weeding out anybody who is holding any gender bias.

Raven – It doesn’t affect how I do things. It should never change how you conduct yourself or treat others in the industry. We have to remember for so long woman were though of being in front of the camera and not behind it. It wasn’t that long ago woman in America didn’t even have the right to vote.


Raven Christina Corvus

DB – have you benefited from any of the women’s organisations or the media outlets created purely for women?

Jackie – – Not that I can remember, or perhaps not directly. Now on the rare occasion when I walk onto a film or TV set (I still make ads), I see women taking on all kinds of roles. Men still dominate behind the camera but I’ve worked with female camera directors, sound, directors, writers etc. and they are no doubt finding places in the industry because of the work that has been done for them by schools, individuals, organisations and women etc.  The sets I walk onto these days are more respectful of all crew and cast, children are better protected (I was involved in some TV when I was about 13 and looking older than my age.  There was no supervision of young people and the only advice I was given was to steer clear of ‘men with octopus arms’!) Respect on set is a nice thing, after all every job is needed to create each piece of the puzzle that is slowly gathered, take by take. Recently I was asked if my shoes were confortable. Seems like a small thing but it made me pause for a moment and I remembered those tight jeans. The last time I saw anyone humiliated and bullied (and it was a woman) on a set was 1991.

Dia – Not as of yet but that’s simply for the fact that I haven’t personally looked into them.  I think as well there should be male versions of such things too so as we can have true equality.

Jessica – I have been incredibly grateful and supported by both the female film making community and the women’s organisations. It is definitely worth noting though that the same obstacles apply in terms of funding and applications due to credits and connections. Personally, the idea that I would receive funding or an upper hand because I am a woman actually makes me very uncomfortable. I would like my project or team to be rewarded because of their hard work and merit of the project, not because of gender. HOWEVER, I understand how important the initiatives and organisations are in creating a social change on the perspective of female led stories and content. I hope that one day it no longer matters. I am completely aware how idealistic that sounds.

Raven – No but there are good programs out there. It helps even the field that is saturated with one gender. It is nothing to be ashamed of or thought of as biased. These programs help encourage woman to get into the field. It can be hard enough in the indy scene.


Dia Taylor

DB – Do you have any advice for women entering into the film industry?

Jackie  – I feel, as I am distanced from the industry these days, there is not much I can say. Acting requires resilience and most of us have to work on that every day. Stick with it; we need to hear stories made by and about all kinds of humans and all genders. Call out sexism and bullying when it happens – don’t be afraid. I was and so regret being silent. Young people, I believe are vulnerable and the work can muck with the head; a mentor is a good thing. Think about your boundaries. You don’t have to accept the job if what you will be asked to do is uncomfortable for you or gratuitous. I’m sounding like a Nana. Making film and TV is fun. Where else would you get to go to work alongside, artists, writers, electricians, sound experts, camera experts, designers, carpenters, business people, pilots, inventors, animal wranglers, historians, old people, young people … and they all on ACTION do their thing! Magic

Dia – Yes I do actually.  We are a rare breed; don’t let the world tell you that you can’t do what you love.  There are some absolutely amazing female filmmakers out there… Sofia Coppola, Julie Taymor, Catherine Bigalow, Catherine Hardwicke, and Floria Sigismondi are just some examples to look up to.

Less than 10% of directors in Hollywood are female and even less are producers and DOPs.  Be the change.  Don’t let the industry sexualise you or change you in any way

Jessica – A common mistake, and one I have made is trying to define myself to others and personally based on my gender. The more you define yourself as what type of person, film maker and artist you want to be regardless of gender it will help frame your relationships in the industry. Make content. Keep making stories that you find interesting. Hire that female crew.

Raven – Just keep doing what you’re doing and don’t let yourself grow a chip on your shoulder. Woman should be seen no differently than men in a perfect world, which it is not. It should be all about the finished product and not about your gender.


DB – Thanks everyone for chatting to me today.

Any links you have can go here:


Fair Game https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQuHBbUz6Cc

Next of Kin trailor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFcdd3VCIaM

Storytelling Australia Victoria:  http://www.storytellingvic.org.au/














Mad, bad and the jokes are from dad (if your dad is gay)!

David Black reviews Fags In The Fast Lane

Fags in the Fastlane is a the leader in the current renaissance of Ozploitation movies.  Its’ recent debut at Melbourne’s grand old Astor theatre was packed to the rafters, with the crowd queuing up past the shopping block to get in.  I was there, and when people were leaving at the end of the night, they were excitedly babbling on about the film like chipmunks on speed.


The official description of FITF is as follows:

“When Beau and his herculean sidekick set off to avenge a spree of violent attacks on his fellow gays, he is waylaid on a vital mission for his beloved mama, Kitten when her GILF bordello is robbed by the giantess leader of a grotesque burlesque show. With the help of a lethal cross dressing Persian Princess and a Bollywood eunuch assassin, this unlikely team of avengers set off to retrieve the lost booty in a full-throttle, rock n roll feast of camp destruction and dangerous dance numbers.
Will they be able to recover Kitten’s beloved jewels and magical golden phallus? They’d better!”


This is Josh (Sinbad) Collins debut as a director for a feature film, and it’s a beauty.  If you are looking for over the top characters, strange gangs battling it out and lots of bad taste action, then this is it.  The stylised opening reminds me of the intro to Ed Woods’ “Glen or Glenda,” after the Bela Lugosi monologue.

Chris Asimos stars as the cocky, cockslinger, Sir Beauregard Esquire, or Beau.  His partner, Lump, played by Matt Jones is reminiscent of Roger Ward’s “Chief Guard Ritter” from the 1982 Ozploitation classic, Turkey Shoot.   The two are hilarious as they make a high camp superhero duo that romp through one over the top scene after another, delivering the cheesiest lines imaginable as they get up to all sorts of “wanky panky.”  Sasha Cuha makes the transition from theatre to his first feature film seamlessly and plays Salome.  Along with Oliver Bell as squirt, they complete our band of heroes as they fight their way through numerous crazy adventures to recover Kitten’s lost fortune, and of course, the golden cock!


Kitten Natividad plays Kitten, the cockslingers’ mother.  She reminded me a bit of Mother Firefly from The Devils Rejects.  Kitten herself is a veteran of B grade films, having starred in many Russ Meyer movies and she gives Fags InThe Fastlane a real life tie-in to the very genre it pays homage to.


Stuart Simpson is the cinematographer and you can see his stamp all over this with some of the genre stylisations.  The miniatures used throughout are the work of Josh Collins and Tor Hellender. Both work well together to give a bit of a Thunderbirds feel to many outlandish scenes.  Some of the humour comes from using models and dolls where they actually aren’t needed at all.  I’m not going to spoil that for you but will just leave that as something to look out for.


The sound track often has a rocky, late 60’s vibe complete with Hammond organ riffs. It enhances some of the psychedelic, trippy, wtf scenes, such as the weird clay animation swamp scene with ultra violet lighting.  All up, this is a fairly hard and fast paced movie with so much going on that it definitely took me a second watch for some of the major parts of the story to sink in.  Come to think if it, I might need to watch this a third time too, but will wait for my heart rate to slow back down to normal first.


There’s a little bit of everything in this movie, from song and dance scenes, to fight scenes, sex and gore, animations, crazy gadgets, ingenious traps, weird drugs, third world pornographers, freak show mutants, monsters, disco freaks, Sci-fi guns ….. and more, all brought together with relentless dad joke type innuendo.  That is, if your dad is gay.

To quote another famous Aussie icon, who happens to be gay …. “Do yourself a favour” and go out and see this one.


Link – https://www.fagsinthefastlane.com/

This one aint for pussies!

David Black reviews Cat Sick Blues

Cat-Sick-Blues-DVD cover

There’s a deeply disturbing Ozploitation obsession about the grief of losing a cat.  The IMDB description for Daniel Armstrong’s upcoming release, “Tarnation”, starts as follows, “When Oscar is fired, and her boyfriend walks out (taking the cat), she heads to a remote cabin in the woods……”  Stuart Simpson’s “Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla” is a crazed descent into madness after an ice cream vendor accidentally runs over his cat and loses the plot.  Dave Jackson takes this to a whole new level of insanity with “Cat Sick Blues.”

This is one truly disturbing movie.  It will certainly have you thinking twice about feeling sorry for socially awkward geeks.  In fact, Matthew C Vaughan’s portrayal of Ted, the cat mourning geek, makes Norman Bates seem somehow comforting to be around.  He is calculating, unfeeling and sexually depraved.


Shian Denovan plays Claire, your pretty girl next door type.  She makes a decent contrast to the sick characters she encounters, as well as a nice victim.  No one likes to see bad things happen to good people but she seems far too trusting and that gets the tension going.

Dave Jackson hasn’t given any of the usual cue’s when something nasty is about to happen though.  You just have no idea when the screen is going to be splattered red.  Usually, when a scene is building towards something horrific, the music starts to get weird, the lighting and colour palette becomes sickly, there might be quick cuts or stylisations and the framing of the shots might have the bad guy uncomfortably squeezed into them and even looming menacingly.  Nope.  In this, shit just happens.  And lots of it too!


Dave does have your scenes where the music gets sinister and the shots are uncomfortable, but they seem to be there for pacing and sometimes for mood.

One of the big stars of this movie is the prop maker, Dieter Barry.  The decapitated heads were spot on likenesses.  There are other things that I would like to mention too, but can’t because I just don’t like to give any spoilers in a movie review.  What I can say is that some props are on the insane side of things.  You wouldn’t even find them at the most underground fetish shop.


I’m a great lover of Ozploitation movies and this one brings us into the contemporary, internet age.  Youtubing, viral videos and sex tapes are a key part of this.  Life, when broadcast online becomes devoid of meaning and just another form of entertainment, where the viewer no longer sees the victim as a human being.  From this angle, Cat Sick Blues becomes a commentary on life in the cyber age.

The film builds in pace and depravity, becoming more surreal.  For those that collect Ozploitation movies, this is a must for the collection.

Cat Sick Blues – http://monsterpictures.com.au/shop/cat-sick-blues-dvd/