Ozploitation massacres the USA!

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

https://www.facebook.com/NathanHillMovie/

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Ozploitation-Massacre-Blu-ray/186668/

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.

 

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This one aint for pussies!

David Black reviews Cat Sick Blues

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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/