Written by: Carroll Jenkins on November 20th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Australia, 1986
Director: Mario Andreacchio
Writer: Rob George
Cast: Cassandra Delaney, Peter Ford, David Sandford, Garry Who, Don Barker, Carmel Young, Adrian Shirley, Wayne Anthony
DVD released: September 17th, 2008
Approximate running time: 82 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Beyond Home Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 4 PAL
Retail Price: $14.97
Synopsis: An animal rights crusader runs a private wildlife refuge in the Australian outback with her husband, who’s away on a business trip. Her path crosses that of a vicious trio of kangaroo hunters, and a game of tit for tat begins.
The action starts off with a bang as the hunters rear-end Cassandra Delaney’s dilapidated Ford Ranchero, sandwich her between their two vehicles, then Ringo jumps from one to another. This introduces us to the characters and their traits. Cassandra’s character is an animal rights advocate (transporting a wounded baby kangaroo), the hunters are thrill seeking predators.
The movie plays in a similar vein to The Most Dangerous Game or The Naked Prey, though the targets in those tales had no choice. Cassandra could have stopped the situation long before it had gone too far, but she had to have the last word. Thus what starts as ‘harmless’ pranks escalates into a life and death struggle.
The hunting truck, called ‘The Beast’ is a unique creation that looks like it came straight out of The Road Warrior, with red headlights like eyes and a frontal exhaust system that actually blows smoke and ‘snorts’ when revved. Cassandra is sympathetic as the heroic victim, but again, she really gets what she asks for. Ringo provides the thrilling stunts, and Sparks the low-brow comic relief, but is the cool and outwardly charming Sony played by Peter Ford (‘Hercules: The Legendary Journeys’, ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’, King Kong) who’s the truly dangerous and vicious leader of the group. Ford also appeared in the Ozploitation feature that started it all, Mad Max.
With a cast of basically four persons (discounting vehicles, animals, and the scenic settings), the film moves at a good pace though the incessant retaliation and one-up-manship does get slightly repetitive. But, like any good Republic serial, they do construe new and imaginative twists to the embellish the continuing struggle.
The R4 release from Beyond Home Entertainment is anamorphic and looks pretty good, reportedly much better than the Vanguard R1 release which is fullscreen with poor image quality. Both releases are the ‘common’ 82 minute release, but there are apparently 90 minute and a full 114 minute versions as well. There is an R2 release available with the title ‘Open Season 2’, but the UK releases tend to make cuts to the most striking scene in the movie: Cassandra has her skin tight clothes cut off with a knife and is strapped to ‘The Beast’ as a human hood ornament.
The basic ingredients that are here are good, so it would be great to see a remastered, uncut, director’s cut of this film. This is a tense and entertaining mix of thriller, horror, brief nudity, and political commentary. Despite the pro-animal stance of the heroine, there are numerous shots of kangaroo corpses in various stages of ‘preparation’, so sensitive PETA members be forewarned.