Synopsis: Five years before he turned the world on with his schoolgirl sexploitation classic FELICITY, producer/director John Lamond made his indelible debut with this mondo -style look at the depraved underbelly of a land down-under. It s an ultra-sleazy, full-frontal journey through the weird and the pathetic, the ugly, the obscene and the beautiful, featuring strippers, swingers, murderers, devil worshippers, nutty gurus, drunken aborigines, and much more.
From the back alleys of the big cities to the savage cruelty of the outback, discover a continent of pleasure, pain, erotic art, wriggling cuisine, tiny bikinis, alien landings, record-breaking beer consumption and insane amounts of 70s nudity, 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.
eyelights: its tongue-in-cheek commentary. its progressive perspective. its sexy bits.
eyesores: its thematic incongruity.
‘Australia After Dark’ is a feature-length documentary by John Lamond (of ‘Felicity’ and ‘The ABC of Love and Sex: Australia Style‘ fame). It was purposely designed to emulate ‘Mondo Cane’, the popular exploitation travelogue, but with an Australian flavour.
Assuming that it would be easy to pastiche a bunch of semi-unrelated scenes together, Lamond decided to give it a try. He felt that all he needed to do was to shoot short segments and alternate the tone regularly so that it would entertain a diverse audience.
It was a massive hit, and it started his career.
The 88-minute picture (which was only recently released uncut for the first time in the United States) begins with a narrated introduction explaining what kind of weird, dark, unusual and beautiful things that we’ll see. It has a subtly ominous tone to it.
Featuring a tongue-in-cheek narration, here is some of what the picture has in store for its audience:
- Credits projected over a naked, topless woman’s chest. It made me think of ‘Goldfinger‘, and it seemed to suggest “Look at that! You don’t see craftsmanship like that these days!”
- A visit to a private S&M party at someone’s home. It’s primitive by today’s standards, but it’s raw, with whipping, full frontal nudity and oral sex. (Bah, in Australia, strip joints are nothing!)
- Discover some of Australia’s most bizarre culinary sensations, like grubs and snake, and learn how to prepare them for your loved ones.
- See an artist painting nude bodies. Then see painted models rolling around on canvas.
- Visit a museum displaying plaster faces of murderers.
- See landlocked weirdos hold regatas on the sand. (Um… what’s the point?)
- Learn all about this strange new thing called bikinis. They talk about them as though they were new, novel. Watch women try some on in a shop. Oooooh.
- Visit a nudist beach, complete with tons of lingering shots.
- And, if that was too titillating, come back down to Earth by seeing how the natives are reduced to drinking, self-destruction.
- Speaking of which, did you know that North Australia is the drinking capital of the world? Seriously! It even features the world’s longest bar and the former beer-drinking champion! (Whoopee!)
- Listen to a male witch talking about white magic (but really, let yourself be distracted by his coven of naked chicks). Then watch a black magic ceremony, with a woman being initiated into the cult, crucified upside down.
- Did you know that Perth is the San Francisco of Australia? Well, watch a couple take their wedding vows. (Oh, the horror!)
- Have you ever seen a transsexual strip show? In 1975, probably few did.
- Listen to interviews with a few people who claim to have made UFO sightings, telling their stories and theories.
- If you can’t make it to New York City, then take a gander a Australia’s spas with Roman baths and massages.
- Visit a commune and hear their aging, potentially demented, guru’s philosophy.
- Go behind the scenes as a stag filmmaker films a scene for his next movie.
- Visit a museum filled with erotic paintings.
- Discover all about fetishism (i.e. let your eyes caress models in lingerie)
- See people take naked mud baths on a beach. And then a milk bath in a tub.
- Watch a man draw on his partner with whipped cream – and then add strawberries for that finishing touch. (Ah, the Aussies have it all!)
- Meet Count Copernicus, an eccentric drag queen. Then watch him lipsync, impersonate characters, and play instruments. Interestingly, he got a “Special Guest Appearance” credit for this.
- See a couple practice the Kama Sutra. For a second (i.e. no need to start drooling)
- Watch some naked scubadiving. (C’mon, who hasn’t seen that? But at least the underwater scenes are nice.)
Ultimately this collection of 37 segments doesn’t deal exclusively with sex, but there’s quite a lot of it, nonetheless. Interestingly, although it’s exploitative, it’s surprisingly progressive for its time. I mean, there really wasn’t much judgment in it.
So I rather enjoyed ‘Australia After Dark’. I mean, it’s not super entertaining, but as a snapshot of a moment in time it’s rather effective. Whether or not it would be of any interest to people not already keen on Ozploitation cinema is another matter, however.
Date of the viewing: April 30, 2016