Monday, February 14, 2011

Fair Game (Mario Andreacchio, 1986)

In an inhospitable land located down under, a woman with an intense distaste for trousers finds herself at odds with a group of boorish poachers in Fair Game, a straightforward slice of dingo-free Ozploitation from director Mario Andreacchio and screenwriter Rob George; one that you might recognize, as it was featured prominently in the superb Not Quite Hollywood. Except for the killing cute animals for monetary gain (mucho dollaridoos) aspect of their personality, these blokes don't sound all that bad. I mean, what's wrong with getting reacquainted with your inner lout every once and a while? In the grand tradition of the oral fetishists in Deliverance ("He got a real pretty mouth, ain't he?") and the English roofers with a taste for rape and tomfoolery in Straw Dogs, the uncouth trio saddled with providing a steady stream of undue harassment in this film are as nasty, crazed, and unsympathetic as they come. You might have noticed that I called them a "trio." While it's true, there are three of them. Which, by the way, is one of the most important factors when designating something a trio. You could count their red, demon-eyed devil truck as the unofficial fourth member of the lady persecuting gang, much like Dave "Rave" Ogilvie was considered the unofficial fourth member of Skinny Puppy.

Resembling a wild boar at times (and sounding like one), this truck (fitted with a network of silver exhaust tubes) transports our villains from one unpleasant situation to another. And make no mistake, they're "villains." You don't purchase a truck like that with the intention of traveling the countryside to perform random acts of kindness. Whether sticking amateur erotica to the inside of iceboxes or using barely clothed women as hood ornaments, these sick twists will stop at nothing until they have persecuted every square inch of their intended victim's supple frame.

It's hard to figure out what their motivation is, but there's no denying the fact that poachers Sonny (Peter Ford), Ringo (David Sanford) and Sparks (Garry Who) want to cause Jessica (Cassandra Delaney), the manager of a large nature reserve, and her multitude of animals, a modicum of discomfort over the next couple days.

Now this may sound difficult to believe, especially after alluding to the infamous hood ornament incident, but there was brief moment when I thought that the mildly dashing Sonny might be a bit of a softy–you know, in a "that's not a knife" sort of way. The key word there being "brief." Sure, he may not act as openly deranged as his two pals (who look like rejects straight out of a universe severely lacking in gasoline), but, like he says himself, "you can't always judge a book by its cover." Unless it's an atlas, which usually contains maps, or a cook book, which usually contains recipes.

In a pre-apocalyptic (or maybe it was post-apocalyptic, you never know some times with The Outback), arid, and unforgiving landscape, three scumbags who drive a scary ass truck do battle with a leggy animal lover. What starts off as gentle ribbing. Actually, I wouldn't classify running someone off the road, Road Warrior-style, as "gentle ribbing." But, to be fair, it was done in a playful, boys will boys, manner. Anyway, this playful behaviour gradually turns deadly serious and sees the foursome–quintet, if you include the guy's truck, sextet, if you count Jessica's dog, Kyle–engage in a tit for tat war with one another.

They put a dead kangaroo in her car, she uses a blowtorch to turn their collection of guns into an avant-garde work of art. It's goes back and forth like this, that is, until the infamous hood ornament incident takes place. Infamous because it features a live woman tied to the front of a moving vehicle, the mood of the film changes somewhat after they leave her battered and bruised on the Australian equivalent of her front porch. Instead reacting, Jessica begins to play a more proactive role when it comes to dealing with her tormentors. That's right, no more cowering in the corner of her kitchen grasping a butcher knife for this gal, she's got some elaborate booby-traps to set.

One of the key ingredients to successfully staving off a bunch of hostile yahoos is a strong pair of legs. I know, you thought I was gonna say, "Australian savvy." But let's be honest, legs are way more important. Think about it, savvy, whether it be the Australian or Lithuanian variety, will only get you so far in the not-so lucrative dodging psychopaths racket. On the other hand, a healthy set of gams will allow you to complete a wide array of arduous tasks. Whether you need to run through the underbrush, climb up a steep cliff, or kick in a groin, a well-motivated pair of legs can and will accomplish all these difficult sounding activities with relative ease.

Of course, the thousand dollar question being: Does Cassandra Delaney have the stems for the job? Holy shivering wombats, does she ever. Molded by the finest leg artisans this side of Geelong, Cassandra's all-powerful, gorgeous lower half command the screen whenever the appear–which is quite often. With the exception a few instances where she is inexplicably wearing long pants, Cassandra's unadorned legs–glistening in the harsh, Aussie sun, thanks, in part, to a steady stream of outback-induced perspiration–work hard to outmaneuver their determined foe, while at the same time, providing much titillation to the handful perverts sitting in the audience. It is, after all, an exploitation film, not a documentary.

Now that I've covered her unclothed portion of her delectable lower half, I'd like, if you don't mind, to move on and focus my attention on Cassandra Delaney's killer wardrobe. Sporting a total of six (yeah, that's right, I counted them) unique looks, Cassandra's Fair Game ensembles are practical, in that, they never impede her ability to flee or engage forces that are hostile in nature, yet exceedingly sexy at the same time.

Having previously alluded to her much publicized disdain for trousers, I feel should mention that two and a half of her outfits are in fact equipped with funnel-based leg coverings. However, in my defense, she does seem a lot more content, spiritually and emotionally, when her legs are unadorned with fabric. Oh, and why two and "a half," you say? Well, you see, her fourth look starts off sans pants (a red, gray and black flannel work shirt), but is affixed with a pair of jeans later on. Anyway, the first thing we see Cassandra's Jessica wearing is a plain white t-shirt (with the sleeves folded) and a pair of no-nonsense blue jeans. I won't lie to you, it's my least favourite of her outfits (she looks like she just walked off the set of a Canadian Heinz Ketchup ad circa 1990), but she does rescue an injured joey while wearing it. And, as we all know, helping animals does nothing but increase one's overall hotness.

A trip to the general store is the scenario put in motion for the unveiling of Jess's second outfit: a light blue shirtdress. Complemented by a brown leather belt (a shirtdress essential) and a chic hodgepodge of handmade jewellry (her black and white necklace was ethno-fabulous), this particular look informs the audience that she's not afraid to show a little skin, while, at same time, giving us a veiled refresher course on how accessories, if used properly, can invigorate the visual temperament of any outfit.

Out of all of Jessica's many outfits, my favourite would have to be her third look. Similar to her second look, yet not similar at all, the bluish gray mini dress, designed by Dianne Kennedy (Sabrina, the Teenage Witch), radiated an otherworldly quality as she wandered through the intense bush. Accentuated by a saucy belt, the wavy lines and Aboriginal flourishes that covered the dress (which you get some great close-up shots of when she's hiding under the edge of a cliff) reminded me of something you might see prancing around in a Parachute Club music video.

The lifespan of Jessica's fifth look is laced with controversy. A black skintight number that was initially worn for stealth purposes, this get-up is the one she is wearing when the gun-totting thugs tie her to the front of their truck. To the surprise of no one, the top and the trousers are both ruined (hunting knives will always win the day when pitted against stretch linen).

Fashion takes a bit of a backseat when it comes time to debut her sixth and final look. Sporting what you'd expect a pissed off Australian woman would wear after a bunch of wankers had just plowed their truck through her house, Jessica's "I'm gonna fuck your shit up" attire includes khaki shorts, a breezy short-sleeved top, brown wilderness boots, and a jaunty Akubra (a black and white headband is added to the mix when the operational integrity of the proverbial fan that measures the overall mood of the universe becomes blanketed with fecal matter). Partaking in a horse-motorcycle chase, causing a rock slide, and using an iron as a weapon, Jessica's new-found confidence when it came to dealing with these creeps was a thrilling sight to behold. An uncomplicated entry in the wilderness revenge genre, Fair Game is a must-see for fans of strong Australian women who like animals and despise being used as a hood ornament.

Oh, crap. I got so caught up in the excitement surrounding Cassandra's six looks, that I almost forgot to mention the excellent electronic music score by Ashley Irwin.

video uploaded by AussieRoadshow



  1. Thoroughly coincidently, I rented this very film on this very day prior to checking this very blog for an update for this very week. Naturally I take this blog post as a personal gift from you to me and I appreciate it.

    I went through an extensive Ozploitation phase in 2006, but I somehow missed out on this title. I don’t know why. I feel un-Australian in a way, with my omissions. Appalling.

  2. "a black and white headband is added to the mix when the operational integrity of the proverbial fan that measures the overall mood of the universe becomes blanketed with fecal matter"... I get more dizzy each time I read this and swoon to the brink whenever you break down a vengeful heroine’s wardrobe in successive order.

    And after reading your superb take on VALET GIRLS, I can only conclude that “80’s overkill” -- not unlike the ungainly theory that aerosol hairspray can damage the ozone layer -- is an ugly myth that should be laid to rest.

  3. @filmisnothing: I'm glad you likey my "gift." :D

    I might go through an extensive Ozploitation phase; I haven't decided yet.

    Dead End Drive-In and "Patrick" look promising.

    @Jerry: Damn, I think it would have been a hellavu lot easier just to say, "when the shit hits the fan."

    What can I say? I'm addicted to vengeful heroine chic.

    It is ugly myth, isn't it? Embrace the aerosol hairspray can and shun follicle mediocrity.

  4. Dude, Watson thought Toronto was in the US. Stupid computer.

  5. Oh, hi, that previous Jeopardy!-related comment was from Karim. :) Blogger didn't prompt me for my information.

  6. Yeah, hey, I figured as much. After all, you did say, "dude." ;)

  7. The best thing that can be said about “Patrick” is that it prepares you for “Patrick vive ancora”, which is the crest of sleaze cinema, no question. “Dead-End Drive-In” is delicious and beautiful. I adore “Long Weekend” and “Next of Kin” most of all, but these are films that for me sit on another level, for I take these films seriously and sincerely like I would high art. It’s personal.

  8. Ah yes nice to see women treated as they should be,too bad they didnt rape her then tie her to the truck that would have been fantastic.