With an unrivalled knowledge of Australian cinema, we couldn’t think of a better host for WM CULT: AUSSIE EXPLOITATION than Australian TV and film commentator Andrew Mercado.
Cult films – he’s watched them in suburban picture theatres, drive-ins, “modified” for TV, Beta, VHS and even laserdisc. It’s his passion for Aussie films that has made Andrew what he is today: film historian; writer; walking TV encyclopaedia. And he doesn’t take it all too seriously.
In the lead up to 5 nights of gritty Aussie films kicking off on World Movies tonight, Monday 17 November at 9.30pm EDT, we caught up with Andrew Mercado to chat about his favourite topic, Australian film.
What is your first memory of Australian cinema?
As a kid, I remember a very young Helen Mirren being naked in a movie called Age of Consent. She was naked on the cover of the tie-in paperback, so it was pretty hard to miss.
What do you consider the most outrageous Aussie film moment?
Just before the opening credits kick in of Alvin Rides Again, Candy Raymond appears sans pants in a full frontal scene that burned into my memory as a teenager. We couldn’t see Alvin Purple as it was rated R, but nothing had prepared us for what they would get away with in the M-rated sequel.
Do you have a favourite Australian actor?
I have always been obsessed with Abigail because she was so beautiful and fearless. She was a very underrated actress and was always sensational if the role called for comedy.
What ingredients make an Aussie film unique?
Aussie Exploitation films of the 70s and 80s were wild and crazy because there were no rules or political correctness. Filmmakers worked on gut instinct and didn’t worry about what international audiences would make of Australia. Sadly that seems to have been lost and depressing government-funded films have turned audiences off our own movies.
What is your favourite Australian film?
This is such a hard question! I love Puberty Blues, Don’s Party, Dogs in Space and Newsfront but I truly do think that Wake in Fright is the best Australian film of all time. It shocked the hell out of me as a kid when I saw it on TV and it shocked me even more when I saw it as an adult and discovered a whole new disturbing level to the film.
If you could have been in any Aussie film, which would it be?
I would have killed to have been in the movie of Number 96 – but getting to know all the stars in real life all these years later is the next best thing.
Don’t miss WM CULT: AUSSIE EXPLOITATION, starting tonight 9.30pm EDT.