Ozploitation.. What does it really mean?

The 1970s was a historical decade in Australian cinema.  The 1970s saw Australian media censorship laws loosen, with the Government allowing R18+ content to be released nationwide. This was also implemented alongside the 10BA tax legislation, a Government initiative that attempted to boost the national film market by providing significant tax incentives. 10BA tax would provide a 150% rebate (Ryan 2012 p.145) to all eligible film creators, this coupled with the release of media censorship saw an influx of horror, comedy and action films being created.

The influx of films saw many unmemorable productions, simply due to the low quality of script and production. Many of these films were merely part of a tax rebate scheme where many producers of content attempted to take advantage of this rebate. It was the making of these ‘b-grade’ films that donned the term Ozploitation.  But what is Ozploitation?

Ozploitation is simply Australian exploitation films. These films are defined by Kuhn and Westwell (2012) as;

Exploitive certain events or trends, they are low budget commercial films that are aimed at a neglected market in mainstream film making. Though these films may also include explicit sex, violence and drug abuse.

Consequently the 1970s saw the rise of Ozploitation films, these 1970s films experimented with sex and free love, remarkably similar to the free love movement during the 1960’s.

The influx of ‘sex romp films’ throughout the 1970s saw the exploitation of Australia’s new media censorship laws.  One of the first sex romp films was The Naked Bunyip released in 1970, this documentary investigated a variety of sexual experiences through fact and fiction. Though this film is not an iconic Australian film and would not be recognisable by most of Generation Y.  The only pop culture hit of the Ozploitation era was Mad Max. This film has become a cult classic, with the Mad Max series being produced and the fourth film having been released earlier this year. Mad Max was first released in 1979 and has had international success. One of very few Ozploitation films to become widely known.

We also saw the rise of the horror genre under this period, with multiple horror films being produced such as; Razorback (1984), Long Weekend (1978) and Howling III: The Marsupials (1987).  Many producers created horror films as they were easily accepted by the international market. With Dunks (2014 p.34-35) arguing that many produced horror films to simply launch their careers within the international market with limited success. Many of these horror films have been forgotten, however; we are seeing a comeback of Ozploitation films with services such as Netflix. Howling III: The Marsupials has recently become available on Netflix, allowing international audiences to experience it for the first time.

So what does this indicate about the Australian Film industry? Looking at the films which were created during the period, it shows that the Australian Film Industry is attempting to provide a funding platform to encourage Australian content, nevertheless, resulting in tax evasions and exploitation films. It shows that Australia has the potential to create brilliant films with the likes of Mad Max, but currently it seems the industry is seeing content creators interested in the economic benefits rather than producing entertaining content. Resulting in poor scripting and production elements and overall low quality niche films.

References:

Dunks, G 2014, ‘Down And Out Down Under’, Metro, No. 180, pp. 34-37.

Kaufman, T 2009, “Finding Australian audiences for Australian films”, Metro, no.163, pp 6-8.

Kuhn, A, & Westwell, G 2012, Ozploitation, n.p.: Oxford University Press, Oxford Reference, EBSCOhost, viewed 14 December 2015.

Ryan, M 2012, “A silver bullet for Australian cinema? Genre movies and the audience debate”, Studies in Australasian Cinema, Vol.6, No.2, pp 141-157.

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