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Severin Films Wrap-Up

Felicity


She ain’t mama’s little girl no more! Felicity Robinson (Glory Annen) is a sheltered teen who surrenders her blossoming body to a world of bold sexual adventure. From her forbidden pleasures at an all-girl school in England, to wanton hungers in the exotic underground of Hong Kong, Felicity finds herself deflowered, defiled, and ultimately delighted by the shame and ecstasy of a libido unleashed. (From Severin’s official synopsis)

According to Mark Hartley’s essential documentary, Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation (2008), the Australian film industry’s big exploitation renaissance began when censorship laws loosened and B-filmmakers were free to produce raunchy comedies and sex farces, including Bruce Beresford’s Barry McKenzie series (1972, 1974), Tim Burstall’s Alvin Purple series (1973, 1974), and a collection of softcore porno goofs directed by John D. Lamond. Following the enormous popularity of his pseudo-documentaries (see the extras), he made a narratively-driven sexploitation romp called Felicity. He took his cues from the international softcore hits of Jess Franco and Just Jaeckin. There are specific connections between the themes and plots of all of these movies, many of which – Franco’s Marquis de Sade’s Justine (1968) and Jaeckin’s Emmanuelle (1974) and The Story of O (1975) – were based on the popular literature of bygone eras. The basic plot concerns an innocent, virginal young woman, usually of some kind of religious origin, who wanders through a series of sexual escapades like Alice through Wonderland.

While filmmakers like Franco and Jaeckin dabbled in social satire, their brands arthouse softcore tended to take the melodrama seriously. Felicity sets itself apart as a quintessentially Aussie production by poking fun at the pretentious movies it is mimicking. Lamond spoofs their very nature (including direct references to their titles) from the point-of-view of the average ‘ocker’ (Australian slang for an proudly uncultured and vulgar person) attempting to make sense of the artsy T&A on display. Ultimately, this kind of good-natured ribbing at the expense of the audience is the appeal of Ozploitation comedies. Lamond is clever to not overplay the goofball factory while ridiculing the pseudo-poetic narration and dreamy soft focus of the films he’s imitating and otherwise gives the audience exactly what they want for their sexploitation buck –  loads of bare bums, loose booms, an extended underwear fitting montage, boy-on-girl action, girl-on-girl action, and more. It’s not really my kind of movie (I can never overcome my aversion to the Ozploitation brand of comedy), but it’s certainly among the best movies of its kind, not to mention Lamond’s best-looking movie from the era, in terms of both its nudity and its beautifully shot Hong Kong locations.

Severin previously released Felicity on anamorphic DVD in the US and UK in 2006. I believe that this 1080p, 1.78:1 (slightly reframed from the 1.85:1 OAR) disc represents its first Blu-ray release in any region. The image quality is appropriately grainy and features plenty of minor print damage (usually small scratches), but none of these artifacts get in the way of the generally clean image quality (there are a handful of outdoor shots where grain is suddenly increased, but they aren’t long). The bigger difficulty is cinematographer Gary Wapscott’s aforementioned use of soft focus and diffused lighting – both techniques stolen from the Just Jaeckin movies Lamond is spoofing. These effects obviously diminish the strength of the harder edges and muddy up some of the more intricate gradations (the darker moments do have some snow issues), but are in keeping with expectations. My one niggle is the slightly over-warmed colour palette. Just like Severin’s Dead Kids and Thirst Blu-rays (both movies that fall under the Ozploitation banner), all of the neutral and lighter hues appear a bit too yellow to me. The problem doesn’t affect the brighter blues, reds, and greens, which remain significantly more vivid than their DVD counterparts. This yellowing does prove that this isn’t merely an upscaled version of the old transfer, though (as if the more complex details weren’t already a proper indication). The original mono sound is preserved in uncompressed DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Felicity is a generally quiet movie and carries on for long stretches with only basic dialogue/narration and very minor environmental ambience. Brian Potter’s eclectic music helps to broaden the scope of the soundtrack and fills the speakers without creating any notable distortion.

Extras include:
  • Commentary with writer/director John Lamond and star Glory Annen – This full-figured, fun-loving track has been recycled from Severin’s original DVD release.
  • Australia After Dark (1975, 1.28:00, non-anamorphic SD) – The first of Lamond’s two silly pseudo-documentaries, Australia After Dark was clearly inspired by the international success of the increasingly sexualized Italian Mondo shockumentaries. Unlike those movies, however, this exploration of everything lovely and nasty about Aussie culture isn’t mean-spirited. In fact, it’s not unlike the made-for-TV documentaries Disney used to produce – aside from the nudity, sex, and drug use, of course. The film includes newly discovered footage, presented with a timecode, because there wasn’t any other available source.
  • The ABCs of Love and Sex: Australia Style (1978, 1:23:00, anamorphic SD) – The second pseudo-doc is not a travelog; rather, it’s sort of a spoof of sex education movies from the era, complete with animated bookends and a strict adherence to the alphabetical structure (i.e. A is for Anatomy, B is for Birth, C is for Contraception, et cetera). On the other hand, it’s sort of like a revue show, too, with dancing sequences, stark sets, and a disco soundtrack. Overall, this is the most entertaining and unique feature included on this disc, not to mention the fact that it’s surprisingly tolerant of homosexuality, in its own slightly offensive way.
  • Australia After Dark and ABCs of Love and Sex commentary tracks with Lamond and Not Quite Hollywood director Mark Hartley, both of which were previously available on each movie’s standalone DVD release.
  • Not Quite Hollywood interview outtakes with Annen, Lamond, and cinematographer Gary Wapscott (59:00, SD) – These extensive and mostly unseen interviews are great companion pieces to the three films in this set and Hartley’s documentary.
  • Lamond trailer reel


 Severin Films Wrap-Up

 Severin Films Wrap-Up

 Severin Films Wrap-Up

 Severin Films Wrap-Up

 Severin Films Wrap-Up

Severin Films Wrap-Up

Kung Fu Trailers of Fury


Get ready for the most hard-kicking, face-smashing, snake-fisting trailer collection of them all! From the golden age of kung fu cinema comes this insane tsunami of masters, mobsters, furious vengeance and incredible fighting styles, starring Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Lo Lieh, Sammo Hung, Angela Mao, Chuck Norris, Jimmy Wang Yu and Wu Tang, too. These are the most over-the-top and rarely-seen original trailers for Hong Kong classics. (From Severin’s official synopsis)

  • The Ways of Kung-Fu
  • Fists of Bruce Lee
  • Kung Fu vs. Yoga
  • Death Blow
  • Two Champions of Shaolin
  • Golden Dragon Silver Snake
  • Daggers 8
  • Secret of the Shaolin Poles
  • The Happenings
  • Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow
  • The Story of the Drunken Master
  • Chinese Kung Fu Against Godfather
  • The Invisible Swordsman
  • Return of Bruce
  • Bruce Le’s Greatest Revenge
  • Shaolin Iron Claws
  • Fast Fingers
  • Enter the Fat Dragon
  • My Kung Fu 12 Kicks
  • The Brutal Boxer
  • Blacklist
  • The Damned
  • Bruce’s Deadly Fingers
  • One-Armed Chivalry Fight Against One-Arm Chivalry
  • The Way of the Dragon
  • Hong Kong Connection
  • Chinese Kung Fu
  • 18 Shaolin Disciples
  • The Blazing Temple
  • Shaolin Wooden Men
  • The Magnificent Boxer


The image quality here is all over the place. In some cases the trailers are actually constructed from multiple sources, as evident in not only print damage, but, on a couple occasions, even the on-screen language (most Hong Kong trailers of the era included built in Mandarin and English subtitles, but other languages occasionally pop-up with no warning). Major print damage of every kind – scratches, dirt, holes, grease pencil marks, et cetera – pop up, as do chemical artefacts and pulsing issues. Obvious issues aside, the 1080p quality offers reasonably tight details as well as vivid colours, depending on the condition footage (a few of the clips are super faded and discoloured). The trailers are stitched together like they’d be for a theater situation, which sometimes makes for awkwardly chopped transitions and missing footage. The sound quality follows suit. Some tracks are more damaged than others and many trailers have been cobbled from the best sources available. Generally, things are tinny yet understandable, which is part and parcel for Hong Kong movies of the ‘70s and ‘80s. The uncompressed, DTS-HD Master Audio mono track ensures no additional loss of sound quality. The musical choices are fascinating, ranging from cues that actually appear in their respective movies, to themes stolen from Bond movies, TV shows, and spaghetti westerns (including Riz Ortolani’s Day of Anger theme and Ennio Morricone’s Big Gundown Theme).

Extras include:
  • Commentary with wuxia movie historian Rick Meyers, stage combat expert Greg Shore, filmmaker/writer of The Brucesploitation Bible Michael Worth, and enthusiast Rick Stelow of Drunken Master Video (I believe defunct).
  • A Brief History of Kung Fu Cinema (28:30, HD) – An inclusive look at the genre, from the ‘30s, through Shaw Bros, Bruce Lee, Brucesploitation, actors/stuntmen that became filmmakers, the Peking Opera school tradition, Jackie Chan/Sammo Hung’s kung-fu comedies, and the modern Hollywood success of wuxia cinema with Meyers and another genre expert Frank Djeng.
  • Way of the Cube (11:20, HD) – A behind-the-scenes look at the Cube Cinema microplex in Bristol, UK, whose programmers discovered a box of trailers that were cut into this collection.


 Severin Films Wrap-Up

 Severin Films Wrap-Up

 Severin Films Wrap-Up

 Severin Films Wrap-Up

 Severin Films Wrap-Up

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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