Fantasm (1976); Fantasm Comes Again (1977)

I decided it made more sense to cover both films in one review, insofar as it makes sense to talk about them at all, and I opted to watch both films with Antony Ginnane’s commentaries; not something I normally do with films I’ve never seen before, but are these the sort of films where you can’t afford to miss a word of the plot-advancing dialogue? Ginnane’s reminiscences are much more interesting; he’s particularly forthright about what he thinks doesn’t work, and really, considerations of making the films and releasing them are more interesting than the results. Both are composed of ten vignettes, each of which was shot in a single day, so this was fast filmmaking apart from anything else. Plus Ginnane would later become known for making films in this country while trying to make them not look specifically “Australian” to better sell them abroad, so it’s interesting to see him actually going overseas and shooting these films with American X-rated film stars (whose American films couldn’t exactly be shown in Australia at the time), but making them with Australian money and the Australian market in mind… Though as Ginnane notes, the second film was shot with the possibility of adding hardcore inserts (but the latter were never added), which in a way kind of adds to the films’ weird hybrid nationality. But what can you really say about the films themselves? Rene Bond is fucking gorgeous. John Holmes is… fucking terrifying. They look OK for 16mm>35mm blowups. That’s about it. Interesting that, while Richard Franklin apparently tried to downplay his pre-Patrick film work but at least seems to have come to terms with Eskimo Nell, he never quite seems to have done the same with Fantasm; at least on the former film he used his own name rather than a pseudonym. In the making-of piece on the DVD, he only appears in silhouette and only indirectly identifies himself, whereas Colin Eggleston is directly outed from behind his pseudonym on the second film. Even the Senses of Cinema Great Directors piece skips Fantasm entirely. Which is pretty much what I would’ve done myself if they hadn’t been in the Ozploitation collection, and I doubt I’d have missed anything.

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