Road Games (1981)
The Australian Outback is a big place, and it’s easy to feel alone amid the natural beauty and desolation. Pat Quid (Stacy Keach) actually prefers it that way, and along with his loyal dingo he spends his days driving his tractor-trailer back and forth across the landscape. His serene existence is interrupted by the news that a serial killer is killing young women and disposing of their bodies along the lonely highway. Circumstance and setup leave Pat marked as a suspect leaving him little option but to try and catch the killer on his own. Lucky for him a sassy American hitchhiker named Pamela (Jamie Lee Curtis) joins him for the ride.
Richard Franklin‘s (Psycho II) cross-country slasher is a fantastic entry for the genre despite being an atypical one. There’s a killer, and he’s slaughtering women, but those elements often feel like a subplot against what amounts to a fun road movie. That’s not a bad thing either as Keach has rarely been granted such a playful role. The thriller aspects may be less frequent, but they work every bit as well.
Curtis brings a healthy splash of sunshine to this already sun-drenched tale, and she keeps up with Keach whenever she’s on screen. The pair shares some light banter and have visible fun until things get deadly — hell, they’re having a good time even as they hunt the killer — but even coming face to face with a murderer sees them enjoying it.
Famed Aussie stuntman Grant Page plays the killer, and as you’d expect he finds himself in some physical scrapes that keep the film alive and energetic just when you fear it’s growing to calm. Fights and vehicular mayhem are well-crafted and blend danger and fun in equal measure.
Umbrella Entertainment’s 2016 Blu-ray is an all-region release featuring a strong picture from a newly restored 4K master. It includes a trailer and the following extras.
- Audio commentary with director Richard Franklin
- Kangaroo Hitchcock: The Making of Road Games [20:20]
- Road Games Lecture with Richard Franklin, Barbie Taylor, and Brian May – November 20th 1980 [2:10:20]
- 4K featurette with Vincent Monton [11:01]
- Not Quite Hollywood interviews with Jamie Lee Curtis, Stacy Keach, Richard Franklin, Grant Page, Everette de Roche, Vincent Monton, and Tom Burstall [1:03:16]
- 1981 interview with Richard Franklin [24:33]
- 2001 audio interview with Richard Franklin [23:29]
- 2016 audio interview with Stacy Keach [9:14]
- 2016 audio interview with Grant Page [32:52]
Buy Road Games on Blu-ray from Amazon.
Fair Game (1986)
The Australian Outback is a big place, and it’s easy to feel alone amid the natural beauty and desolation. Jessica (Cassandra Delaney) knows that full well and lives by choice on a small ranch where she’s responsible solely for herself and the animals she loves. The only conflict in her life comes from the intrusion of aggressive men hunting wildlife on her property, but things get worse when she stands up to them. The trio set their sights on scoring with her — whether she consents or not — but they’re about to be surprised by prey that fights back.
It’s worth noting right up front that while this Ozploitation gem gives off a rape/revenge vibe it’s actually more of a sexual harassment/revenge flick. The thugs are clear in their ultimate intent, but first they set out to mess with her by sneaking in while she’s sleeping, chasing her, and killing her animals. That’s more than enough to piss her the hell off and encourage her to fight back.
Fair Game makes for a great pairing with Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge (2017) as both films are set against big, open landscapes and see a trio of pricks push a woman to the point of reluctantly kicking their asses. Both films also allow their protagonists to remain comfortable owners of their own bodies without feeling the need to cover up. Jessica strips down a few times of her own free will — yeah, it’s T&A in a genre film — but she’s not being targeted for showing skin. She’s being targeted simply for being a woman.
Rob George‘s script sets up some questionable situations and judgment calls, and while it’s not so bad as to mark our hero as an idiot some of her choices are clearly dumb. They’re forgivable sleights, though, thanks in large part to Delaney’s determined and athletic performance and the thrilling direction of Mario Andreacchio. As is the standard for Australian genre pictures in the 80s the film features plenty of stunts and set-pieces that spike the adrenaline.
Fair Game comes to region-free Blu-ray for the first time anywhere with this Umbrella Entertainment release, and it’s a real beauty. The new transfer is from a recent 2K restoration that looks fantastic capturing the earthy colors, wide landscapes, and action details. In addition to a trailer, still gallery, and storyboard, the disc also includes the following extras.
- Audio commentary with director Mario Andreacchio & writer Rob George
- Extended interview with Cassandra Delaney from Not Quite Hollywood [15:24]
- On location with Fair Game [3:39]
- Behind the Scenes – 1985 TV report from NWS9 Action News [:36]
- Behind the Scenes – 1985 TV report from ADS-7 State Affair [2:21]
- Behind the Scenes with Dean Bennett [52:01]
- Short films by Mario Andreacchio –
Buy Fair Game on Blu-ray from Amazon.