Monday, May 7, 2018

Off the Shelf: FAIR GAME (Blu-ray)

by Patrick Bromley
An Ozploitation classic makes its way to Blu-ray!

God bless Umbrella Entertainment. Just when I thought the field for boutique labels releasing Blu-rays of the kinds of genre and exploitation movies I love had reached critical mass (thanks to companies like Scream Factory, Arrow, Vinegar Syndrome, Code Red, Synapse, Severin, Vestron, 88 Films...the list goes on), along comes Umbrella Entertainment out of Australia to pick up even more titles that have fallen through the cracks. They've been around for several years -- their "Drive-in Delirium" discs are absolute essentials -- but seem to have stepped up even harder in recent months to bring us titles not previously available in high def in the States (like Silver Bullet or their upcoming release of The Beastmaster), as well as underseen gems like Fair Game.
Cassandra Delaney plays Jessica, a woman running an animal sanctuary in the Australian outback. When three kangaroo hunters show up looking for something new to hunt, they start setting their sights on Jessica, who must use all of her strength and resources to fight back and survive. That's the entire plot of Fair Game, which can probably more accurately be described as a premise. That's what so much good exploitation does, though; presents a simple idea and then executes it with maximum insanity. There are long stretches of Fair Game that take place with no dialogue at all -- it's pure visual storytelling, and it's thrilling. This is the first feature from Australian director Mario Andreacchio and the only work of his I've seen, but it's the type of filmmaking that makes me want to seek out more of his stuff.
As a brutal tale of survival and as a portrayal of the Australian outback -- there is a whole lot of gorgeous scenery on display -- Fair Game is excellent. It works as an exploitation film, too, though it does wind up indulging in the too-common exploitation trope of portraying rape as a motivating factor for its protagonist. Without this element, I'm not even positive that we'd be talking about Fair Game within the context of Ozploitation or if we'd just be calling it a really cool Australian action film. Either way, it's the performance of Cassandra Delaney holding the film together at its center; she's fierce and strong, sympathetic and totally believable as an ordinary woman forced to do brutal and desperate things. The movie may be grimy and sweaty and deeply unpleasant at times, but we continue to care because Delaney makes sure that we do.
Umbrella's release of Fair Game brings the movie to Blu-ray for the first time, loaded with bonus content. Andreacchio and writer Rob George provide an audio commentary, while star Cassandra Delaney appears on camera in an extended interview comprised in part by outtakes from the great Ozploitation documentary Not Quite Hollywood. A bunch of archival material is included as well, including location footage and several "behind the scenes" pieces that ran on Australian TV in the '80s. In addition to the now-standard bonus features like a trailer and a still gallery (which features original storyboards from the movie), the best supplement on this disc is a collection of short films directed by Andreacchio: "Vandelism" (1981), "Break-In" (1983), "Taken By Storm" (1984), "Abduction...Who's Next?" (1984), and "Under Pressure" (1986). Not only is it cool that the disc comes with so much extra stuff, but the chance to watch Andreacchio evolve and build up to making his first feature in 1986 is really interesting.

We're less than a month away from #Junesploitation, and we've been doing it long enough at this point that some of you are probably looking for some new titles to fill out your viewing for the month. Well, Fair Game checks a handful of those boxes, making it excellent Junesploitation fodder. Even if you don't get around to seeing it next month, it's well worth a look as an Ozploitation gem.

Blu-ray Release Date: March 1, 2018
86 minutes/1986/NR
1.85:1 (1080p)
DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio (English)

Blu-ray Bonus Features:
Cassandra Delaney Interview
"On Location" Featurette
Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
Image Gallery
Short Films


  1. All right, 2 orders on the same day. This is going well, thank Patrick ;)

  2. I’m so excited Australia has its own label like this now! I’ve been picking up their stuff for a while, hopefully can get to some ozploitation next month, including this one