‘Australia After Dark’ (1975) review

23 Aug
Like mondo-style documentaries? How about art culture and history? Socio-politics perhaps? What about a few nude and topless women? If you answered yes to a majority of those questions, then Ozsploitation classic Australia After Dark is a must see feature for you.

 Originally released in 1975, the film was heavily censored for the British public losing twelve minutes of running time, but now available uncut it is well worth seeking out. With an introduction to Australia that is very Meyeresque in both editing and writing, narrator Hayes Gordon shows us the dark side of the country, exclaiming that ‘it won’t all be beautiful – but its true!’.

And if it’s all true, its certainly interesting! Witness some beautiful shots of the Outback and Ayers Rock juxtaposed with a riverboat restaurant that serves deep-fried witchetty grub (wriggling first in the batter and then in the hot oil – gross!) and snake. Handily for viewers, it also gives you a recipe for cooking snake meat, you know, in case you ever want to try it… If that scene doesn’t bring your food up, the next one might – Madame Lashe’s boudoir. Sounds hot, but is actually a back street, S&M house party with overweight guests cavorting in bondage gear. A slightly cringe worthy scene but one that provides the best line of dialogue in the entire flick, ‘Look at that rack, you don’t see craftsmanship like that these days’. He’s talking about an MDF frame guys…

Sleaze aside, John D. Lamond‘s mondo-style doc follows standards set by Italian 1962 release Mondo Cane. Shot on location, Lamond really travels around Australia making sure we see the neon lit broadwalks of Kings Cross, the highly homosexually populated Perth (the films words, not mine) and Sydney, alongside Aborigine colonies in the Outback. Cue some genuinely interesting moments which explore the plight of Aborigines and their way of living (infant mortality, for instance, is a big problem).

 

Australia After Dark has a bit of a disjointed and manic tone to it which works although does feel somewhat flawed (moments of historical interest next to staged, terribly un-erotic scenes of foreplay). Having said that, it’s a fantastic piece of work which tries to encompass the country as a whole and certainly shows a slightly darker side to the land Down Under…

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