STUDIO: Subversive Cinema
MSRP: $29.95
RATED: Unrateds
Each disc contains:
• Feature commentary w/ cast and crew
• Production diary
• Behind-the-scenes featurette
• Bios
• Still gallery

The Pitch

Savage has been around for a while, though you may have never heard of him.
He’s Australian underground, a large name in a comparatively small world. With
this set, you get the chance to see three of his more successful films,
spanning almost twenty years of effort. Included are the revenge thriller Marauders,
the dark comedy Sensitive New Age Killer, and the brutal, silent Defenceless.


The Humans

New to
you: Susanne Hauschmidd, Erin Walsh, George Gladstone, Anthony Thomas, Bethany

The Nutshell

A woman
(Hauschmidd) refuses to give up her beachfront property to a greedy developer.
As persuasion, the developer brutalizes her life, starting with her friends and
ending with her. But, though he receives a bloody capitulation, the woman has
not had her final say. When a formerly innocent spirit is turned to vengeance,
the result can burn like hellfire. The woman returns, and the balance of terror
is taken. All in complete silence.

The Lowdown

The most
recent of Savage’s films in this set, Defenceless is also the winner of
the most awards, though all are from the Melbourne Underground Film Festival. Still,
in a different venue, the film may well have a chance to double up on its
honors. Savage and his co-producer Susanne Hauschmidd made the daring choice
conveying the whole film with the drama and pacing of a silent film, with only
a musical score and the occasional sound effects to fill in the empty spaces.

If you have no depth perception, this is a funny picture.

for the audience, this choice wasn’t made simply to distinguish the film from
its peers, but because it contributes immensely to the theme and nature of the
characters. In other words, it’s not self-consciously daring, as often afflicts
the more avant-garde of the underground circles. It’s wholly justified in its

There are
aspects of the familiar to consider, though. The filmmaking style is affecting,
but the substance isn’t particularly fresh. It’s a tale of greed, violence, and
retribution that flared up in the 70s, and there isn’t much more to be added
from a story consideration. Innocents are wronged (with a well-played
brutality, I have to add) and vengeance is taken.

What sets
apart from its meme-sharing siblings is its portrayal. Critics, like me, are
always asking for familiar stories to be told differently. Well, Mark Savage
has certainly done that. Using the odd exposition required of silent cinema and
the opposing forces of silence and violence, he has made a dissonant beauty of
a film, an archetype of a story that harnesses the wider vocabulary of film to earn
its distinctions.

Which old house? This old house?

The Package

I’m going
to be repeating myself a lot here, because each of these discs has a fantastic
commentary featuring Savage, as well as members of the cast and crew of their
respective films. Savage seems to be something of an instinctive filmmaker, but
he has taken the time to deconstruct his instincts, and has a few good insights
to share . This commentary features him, his co-producer and lead actor Susanne
Hauschmidd, and cast members Erin Walsh, George Gladstone, Anthony Thorne, and
Bethany Fisher.

also a behind-the-scenes featurette, a still gallery, cast and crew bios, and
liner notes featuring a diary entries from Savage.

7.6 out of 10

Sensitive New Age

The Humans

Moder, Carolyn Bock, Kevin Hopkins, Frank Bren, Colin Savage

The Nutshell

(Moder) is a father, a philanderer, and a hitman for hire. Taking those into
consideration, he’s not that bad. He only kills people who deserve it, after
all. The trouble is he hasn’t been doing too well lately. Somehow, all his
targets end up knowing he’s coming and escape with their lives. So when a huge
mark comes to town, Paul will do anything to succeed, up to and including
murdering his hitman hero, a cold, relentless bastard named "The
Snake" (Bren).

"The Austrian Auvaries"

The Lowdown

a bit of Savage’s diversity, Sensitive New Age Killer lives and
dies on its sense of humor. The basic concept isn’t plainly humorous — a moral
hitman? Sure, why not — but the characters develop through comedic sequences
that seem almost accidental, off-the-cuff. As the film progresses the
situations get increasingly absurd, which is a fun process to observe, though
it has the unfortunate side-effect of putting gradually wider distances between
the film and the audience.

None of
it would have worked without Paul Moder’s straight-man performance, nor the
smart writing decision to make him as normal as a guy you meet in the pub.
There’s legitimate drama to be found in Paul’s internal conflict, and in his
aborted hero worship. When the humor begins to ramp up in zaniness, there is a
parallel somberness in Paul’s development. I don’t feel those developments
impart any real weight on the story, but they are conveyed in a well-chosen
tone, preventing the plot from listing too far on the comedy side of things.

Savage’s direction
keeps the story moving at a brisk pace. There is never a dull moment, unless
the sardonic, and occasionally broad, comedy doesn’t work for you. I can
recommend it as an energetic and light-hearted revenge comedy, playing a little
false with its emotional drive, but plenty satisfying.

Ribbed for her pleasure?

The Package

components as before, but with a different cast and crew. A commentary track
(Frank Bren, who plays the aged assassin "The Snake" is a hoot), a
behind-the-scenes featurette, bios, stills, and a diary covering the production
from beginning to end over the course of a couple dozen entries.

6.6 out of 10


The Humans

Colin Savage, Zero Montana, Paul Harrington, Megan Napier, Richard Wolstencroft

The Nutshell

young, hyperviolent men cut a swathe of blood across the Australian landscape,
for fun and petty vengeance. The deeper they drive into their carnival of
murder, though, the more furious survivors they leave in their wake. And those
survivors will rise up…

The Lowdown

So far,
we’ve covered stylish vengeance and comedic violence; the last tentpole on
Savage’s repertoire is the low-fi, gritty, over-the-top villainy similar to
what Wes Craven pulled with Last House on the Left (which is a
frequent measuring stick held up against Savage’s work.)

doesn’t pull even with its influences. There are technical limitations, to be
sure: poor lighting, unsophisticated cameras, and a low-tech editing process;
but what actually kills the movie are its amateurish writing, tempo, and
direction. There’s not a lot to be argued in any of the three categories. The
direction is journeyman level; the writing has a decent grasp of the broad
dramatic arc but no concept of the mini arcs that give individual scenes their
backbones; and the pacing stops and starts with the grace of an Edsel.

"Charlene / I’m right behind you…"

there’s not a lot of merit to the concept. The exploitive films which Marauders
uses as a template were engrossing because they invested the characters with
broad emotions. Granted, that investment was generally via clunky exposition
rather than deft writing, but the intention counts for something. It’s just
childish violence acted out with an enthusiastic cast.

argue that the film certainly belongs in this set, however, because there are
insights left and right when it is put in context with its siblings. There’s a
huge gap in time between this least-accomplished film and Defenceless, and getting
to experience the origin story of a filmmaker, as it were, is rewarding on a
level above the story. If it had to carry the weight of Savage’s career on its
own, however, things would be coming down around the director’s ears.

The Package

verse, same as the first. The commentary on this one is perhaps the most
interesting, because Savage and his cohorts have the twenty years of distance
from the film through which to examine it. It’s personally important to them,
and their affection and regard for it are maybe more interesting than the movie

The other
bonuses are the same old behind-the-scenes featurette, stills, bios, and diary.

3 out of 10