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Filmmaker Mark Hartley explores Australia's hidden genre in this documentary that casually casts aside "official" film history to celebrate the demented genius of director Brian Trenchard-Smith, and the exciting wave of little-known but supremely entertaining films that entertained adventurous Australian filmgoers throughout the 1970s and '80s. Every film student worth his or her weight in celluloid has seen Breaker Morant and Picnic at Hanging Rock, but what about the lesser-known gems that didn't make the film-school textbooks? In his forward to Tim Lucas' book Mario Bava - All the Colors of the Dark, director Martin Scorsese states, "We have to keep resisting the idea of official film history, a stately procession of 'important works' that leaves some of the most exciting films and filmmakers tucked away in the shadows." In this documentary, director Hartley explores the films forgotten by "official film history" with the comprehensive eye of a true film buff. As a child watching such films as Snapshot and The Man from Hong Kong, Hartley immediately recognized how wildly disparate they were in tone and execution from the films that comprised Australia's traditional film library. Appearing like American genre films that just happened to be shot in Australia and cast with Australian actors, these so-called "Ozploitation" flicks flourished in the wake of relaxed censorship laws down under. Yet despite constant chatter about the "new wave" of Australian cinema, financially successful films like The Man from Hong Kong and Patrick that were popular both at home and abroad were never mentioned, sneeringly dismissed as "genre" films rather than Australian films. Perhaps in the wake of such successful Australian films as Wolf Creek and Undead -- and looking ahead to such films as the slasher shocker Storm Warning and the eagerly anticipated remake of Long Weekend -- curious filmgoers are finally prepared to discover what they've been missing all these years. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide
This feature-length spin-off of the popular television horror anthology is directed by John Harrison, who directed many episodes of the television series. The film consists of four grisly and gruesome horror teasers. "The Wraparound Story" stars Deborah Harry as Betty, a chef with a kitchen complete with Cuisinart and dungeon. She plans to cook a little boy, who delays his execution by telling Betty three tales of terror. The first tale is "Lot 249," based on the mummy story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The tale concerns Bellingham (Steve Buscemi), a bug-eyed graduate student who has raised a mummy from the dead. The second tale, "Cat from Hell," adapted by George A. Romero from a Stephen King story, deals with a broken-down millionaire (William Hickey), who has made his millions by developing habit-forming painkillers. He is convinced that, since 5,000 cats have been killed in his lab experiments in order to develop his pills, a stray cat has killed his family. He hires a hit man (David Johansen) to track down the cat and rub him out. The third tale, "Lover's Vow," is based on "Woman in the Snow," one of the episodes in Kwaidan.James Remar plays an artist who strikes a deal with the devil and is rewarded with a beautiful wife (Rae Dawn Chong) and a respectful art career. ~ Paul Brenner, All Movie Guide
First time writer-director James Marquand's feature debut, the steel-tough crime thriller Dead Man's Cards, marks one of the venerable British actor Tom Bell's final onscreen roles prior to his death in 2006. The tale unfolds in the seedy Merseyside borough of Liverpool, where Tom Watts (James McMartin), a former pugilist forced to retire from an eye injury sustained in the ring, accepts a position as a bouncer at a dilapidated nightclub run by Billy the Cowboy (Bell). Tom's wife, upset by his new occupation and embarrassed by the discovery of her husband's sexual impotence, abandons him. Meanwhile, at work, Watts is immediately befriended and mentored by his co-bouncer, Paul (Paul Barber), who has become implicated with a shady element thanks to his ex-girlfriend's involvement with the cocaine pusher Romeo Brown (Andrew Simister), a slimy thug in hock to the gangster and cocaine boss Chongi (Mark Russell). The latter attempts to strongarm Paul and then Tom into joining his security firm; when both refuse, Chongi grows psychotically hostile and plans to rub out both men with the help of a trained assassin. He doesn't count, however, on Tom's decision to stop him in his tracks. ~ Nathan Southern, All Movie Guide
A handful of scientists struggle to prevent the destruction of a small town -- and possibly the entire country -- in this suspense drama. In the mid-1960s, a deadly virus is discovered in Zaire that wipes out an entire village in 24 hours. Government researchers are brought in to investigate, but the military opts to destroy the village rather than risk further infection. Thirty years later, Sam Daniels (Dustin Hoffman), an expert on contagious diseases, is called in when the virus re-emerges in Africa. A monkey carrying the bug is smuggled into the U.S., and a suburban California town soon begins to succumb to the illness. Sam scrambles to find an antidote with the help of his ex-wife Robby (Rene Russo), a Center for Disease Control researcher, and their colleague Casey (Kevin Spacey), while Gen. McClintock (Donald Sutherland) has his own reasons for wanting to use bombs to contain the epidemic, and Army surgeon Gen. Ford (Morgan Freeman) is caught in the middle. Outbreak was produced in the hopes of beating the film version of Richard Preston's bestseller The Hot Zone (about a real-life epidemic) into theaters; script problems shelved The Hot Zone, and Outbreak had the infectious disease market to itself. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide
Jim James from My Morning Jacket with only acoustic guitar and vocals
Digitally restored and with an hour of extra features, including a 30-minute documentary about the making of the film
'How do you pronounce 'supernova'?'
Newcomers 'Last Vegas' and 'Free Birds' can't catch sci-fi epic