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December 20, 2012

Movie Review: Australia After Dark (1975)

Review by Greg Goodsell

Directed by John D. Lamond

In Australia, “Sheila” is slang for woman, due to the preponderance of gals down there who have Sheila for their first name. What do “Sheilas” like to do Down Under? If this Australian mondo-shockumentary is correct, Sheilas like nothing better than to engage of lots of “messy fun.” Said practice is a sexual fetish where the woman finds release in covering themselves – either clothed or naked – in messy foodstuffs.

Australia After Dark begins with a trio of lassies who gleefully agree to have their naked bodies with paint, rubbing themselves on stark, white studio walls before collapsing joyfully on the canvas covered floor. Long before the United Kingdom’s Splosh! Magazine forced this particular kink out of the closet (Splosh! Is championed by director John Waters), Australia After Dark gives this particular byway a strenuous workout. Women cover themselves with honey, treacle, mud, whipped cream and even more body paint, taking up the final half hour of this film’s running time!

For anyone put off by the more grisly aspects of the mondo movie subgenre, Australia After Dark succeeds at being a “mondo movie that isn’t a mondo movie.” Australia’s more sordid aspects are only briefly touched upon, if at all. The mistreatment and dire poverty of that land’s indigenous Aboriginal population gets all of three minutes running time. Australia’s rampant alcoholism is also cheerfully touched upon. The typical Aussie male’s daily gallon of suds is a matter of national pride, a beer-gutted guy passed out on a lawn littered with cans as patriotic as a kangaroo or koala.

Other “shocking” scenes served up to the Drive-In crowd include a homosexual wedding in Perth, “Australia’s gay capital.” (As proof, the camera shows men – and women blatantly walking down city streets without members of the opposite sex!) Two young men in Glam rock finery are wed by a swishy man of the cloth. While somewhat prescient, gay marriages are nothing new, They just didn’t seek governmental or church approval as they do today.

Speaking of glam rock, Count Copernicus and his Cosmic Fire band – which at first glance seem to be a nasty parody of Diamond Dog-era David Bowie, magically arrives to belt out some inane ditties. The clothes and makeup used for the Copernicus sequences betray a wild imagination. Wearing a sky-high afro doused in glitter, Count Copernicus sings such songs as “Marmalade” – again, with the messy fun – and offers some absurd one-liners. Surprisingly, the sequence ends with the beyond-fey singer mounting a woman, Sorry guys, but Count Copernicus ain’t no fag – and Australia After Dark is out to prove it!

Australia After Dark also features a Black Mass even phonier than the one featured in the original Faces of Death. Performing unspeakable rites in the forest, these Satanists thoughtfully give the camera crew ample opportunity or camera set-ups. Fear not, no intestines are spilled here. The green-skinned cult leader sporting an Indonesian demon mask merely mounts a pretty blond disciple on the altar.

As noted in yet another documentary, Not Quite Hollywood, director John Lamond was Australia’s go-to man for quick and easy exploitation movies. As is mentioned on the disc’s liner notes, the film presented here is “now fully restored from a print recently discovered in the cellar of the Lower Wonga Drive-In and presented uncut & uncensored for the first time ever in America.”

There is an audio commentary With Director John Lamond and Not Quite Hollywood Director Mark Hartley provided. It must be noted that while the DVD claims to have a John Lamond Trailer Reel. – I couldn’t find it anywhere on my review disc.

In either case, Australia After Dark can be recommended for a light-hearted skin and sin romp through the Antipodean countryside.  

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