05 September 2009

Contagion


Contagion
Australia - 1987
Director – Karl Zwicky
Sony Video Software, 1988, VHS
Run Time – 1 hour, 30 min.

I don’t like narration, particularly when it’s vague and arcane and meant to add suspense to a film that appears about to not otherwise have any. I wasn’t expecting this to be Australian either and that’s set me off balance a little. A well-paced scene of a motorcyclist getting beheaded is nice, but ultimately it’s all implied and happens offscreen. There better be something redeeming, that’s the only way implied gore is tolerable, when there’s another hook.

When our protagonist Mark takes a drive in the woods and witnesses a girl getting kidnapped he tries to rescue her. A graphic and prolonged scene of her attackers fondling her is a bit unsettling and suggests this is actually going to be visceral. The attackers turn out to be mulleted Australian hillbillies who capture and sodomize Mark while wearing furry masks. I’m thinking it was less for having interrupted their city-girl raping than for having the audacity to sport a wee dust-ruffle mullet of his own. Mark later escapes after pickaxeing one of the hillbillies in the skull, traumatized to the point of losing all social grace and common sense. Worse than the yellow sweatshirt over a white button-up he's already wearing that is.


His first decision is to trust the two attractive women and the old guy in a robe who rescue him. These total strangers offer him limitless riches and sex if only he’ll “do the right thing” which he interprets to mean crushing and suffocating his co-workers to death and robbing and strangling his harpy of a wife.

Even though Mark is clearly desperate for financial gain his primary motivator quickly becomes the twins. Okay, my primary motivation became the twins, I did say that this movie needed another hook after all (and yes, all the deaths are still off-screen). Cleo and Helen are it and Mark and I keep hoping for more. It doesn’t matter that despite the notorious reliability of financial market speculators the old guy hasn’t proffered any actual cash. What matters is that the girls have delivered on their part of the bargain, repeatedly, at least in Mark’s head. I suspect that he’s hallucinating the whole thing, they are a bit out of his league and he’s still wearing the same filthy sweatshirt from the hillbilly ordeal.


I bought this movie based almost exclusively on the bad cover art which turned out to be deceptively accurate. It’s the title that doesn’t make much sense. It did make me think of a boob-sprinkled Aussie Cannibal Apocalypse plot, the trauma of tiger cages in ‘Nam and viral cannibalism replaced with hillbilly sodomy and shallow male fantasy. (guilty) The money is thrown in there just to round out the insanity. C’mon, hot Aussie nympho twins isn’t possibly enough to make a guy crazy right, but it will save a movie.

A Japanese clamshell VHS and an Italian DVD. I like the distributors logo on the VHS.


A UK VHS clamshell insert from It's Only A Movie(.co.uk).