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Snapshot

Snapshot(1978)

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Snapshot (1978)

Pig-a-back to the influx of stately Australian dramas to American cinemas from the mid-Seventies onward was a flood of low budget exploitation fare from Down Under. While Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and Bruce Beresford's Breaker Morant (1980) charmed the art house crowds, grindhouse and drive-in habitus enjoyed the gnarly charms of Earl Bellamy's Sidecar Racers (1975), Philippe Mora's Mad Dog Morgan (1976) and George Miller's Mad Max (1979). The revitalization of the horror genre towards the end of the decade thanks to John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) and Sean S. Cunningham's Friday the 13th (1980) prompted an uptake in themes of fear and dread from the Antipodes. Because the Australian film industry was still small and unprepossessing as late as 1979 (in that year, only 18 feature films were released), artists and artisans in front of and behind the cameras tended to recur from film to film with great frequency.

Born in America but established in Melbourne by 1968, Everett De Roche scripted some of the best-known Aussie fright and fantasy flicks of the Australian New Wave: Richard Franklin's telekinetic terror film Patrick (1978), Colin Eggelston's revenge-of-nature thriller Long Weekend (1978), Rod Hardy's new age vampire picture Thirst (1979) and Russell Mulcahy's Razorback (1984), an Outback-set Jaws (1975) variant with a predatory boar in the place of a shark.

A more obscure item on De Roche's sprawling curriculum vitae, Snapshot (1979) got brief play in America in the fall of 1980 under the misleading title The Day Before Halloween. Funded by Antony I. Ginnane, the self-proclaimed "Roger Corman of Australia" who also produced Patrick, Thirst and Michael Laughlin's Strange Behavior (1981), Snapshot remains sufficiently obscure that most Internet references to it are incorrect. Labeled erroneously as both a romantic comedy and "Halloween-like" by critics who never bothered to track it down, the film is less a slasher than a loss-of-innocence tale, focusing as it does on a Melbourne hairdresser (Sigrid Thornton) as she dips into the demimonde of professional modeling. De Roche had written Long Weekend in only ten days and dashed off Snapshot in just four before the project was handed off to director Simon Wincer. The fashion world setting feels indebted to the John Carpenter-scripted Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), while the central codependence of Thornton's "ugly, awkward, stupid Angela" to Chantal Contouri's older, more experienced Madeline seems like a feathering of elements from Joseph L. Mankiewicz's All About Eve (1950) and the Joan Collins vehicle The Stud (1978). Intermittent suspense tropes notwithstanding, Snapshot refrains from playing its horror card until the third act, before a denouement that echoes the conclusion of Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (1960) and a twist in the tale that anticipates Gordon Willis' Windows (1980).

Horror movies with female protagonists often boil down to a woman's struggle to retain sovereignty over her own body. This conceit goes back at least as far as Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) and Herk Harvey's Carnival of Souls (1962) and was true of the De Roche-scripted Patrick, in which professional nurse Susan Penhaligon was pinioned between a sexually abusive ex-husband and the telekinetic advances of an ostensibly vegetative patient. For Snapshot, De Roche etches a cold, unsympathetic world populated by predators of every stripe, from a deceptively avuncular film producer (Robert Bruning) to Angela's doughy ex-lover (Vincent Gil), who stalks her from behind the wheel of his ice cream truck. Even Angela's mother (Julia Blake) is presented as a heartless user, cooking up a sob story to extort Angela into coughing up her modeling fees. With a slow pace and padded with some unforgivable disco interjections (and the comic stylings of the most disturbing cabaret performer in film history), Snapshot goes delightfully nutzoid in its third act, with a gratuitously prophetic dream, a severed pig's head and a climactic conflagration straight out of Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933). The film ends on an odd downbeat note that is at once retrograde in its aligning of homosexuality with psychopathy and yet charmingly atypical in its reassessment of the transference of evil, permitting a changed Angela to survive her ordeal at a psychic cost appreciably higher than her asking price.

Director: Simon Wincer
Producer: Antony I. Ginnane
Executive Producer: William Fayman
Associate Producer: Barbi Taylor
Writers: Everett De Roche, Chris De Roche
Original Music: Brian May
Cinematography: Vincent Monton
Editor: Philip Reid
Cast: Chantal Contouri (Madeline), Robert Bruning (Elmer), Sigrid Thornton (Angela), Hugh Keays-Byrne (Linsey), Vincent Gil (Daryl), Julia Blake (Mrs. Bailey), Jon Sidney (Mr. Pluckett), Denise Drysdale (Lily), Jacqui Gordon (Becky), Peter Stratford (Roger), Bob Brown (Captain Rock).C-104m.

by Richard Harland Smith

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teaser Snapshot (1978)

Pig-a-back to the influx of stately Australian dramas to American cinemas from the mid-Seventies onward was a flood of low budget exploitation fare from Down Under. While Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and Bruce Beresford's Breaker Morant (1980) charmed the art house crowds, grindhouse and drive-in habitus enjoyed the gnarly charms of Earl Bellamy's Sidecar Racers (1975), Philippe Mora's Mad Dog Morgan (1976) and George Miller's Mad Max (1979). The revitalization of the horror genre towards the end of the decade thanks to John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) and Sean S. Cunningham's Friday the 13th (1980) prompted an uptake in themes of fear and dread from the Antipodes. Because the Australian film industry was still small and unprepossessing as late as 1979 (in that year, only 18 feature films were released), artists and artisans in front of and behind the cameras tended to recur from film to film with great frequency.

Born in America but established in Melbourne by 1968, Everett De Roche scripted some of the best-known Aussie fright and fantasy flicks of the Australian New Wave: Richard Franklin's telekinetic terror film Patrick (1978), Colin Eggelston's revenge-of-nature thriller Long Weekend (1978), Rod Hardy's new age vampire picture Thirst (1979) and Russell Mulcahy's Razorback (1984), an Outback-set Jaws (1975) variant with a predatory boar in the place of a shark.

A more obscure item on De Roche's sprawling curriculum vitae, Snapshot (1979) got brief play in America in the fall of 1980 under the misleading title The Day Before Halloween. Funded by Antony I. Ginnane, the self-proclaimed "Roger Corman of Australia" who also produced Patrick, Thirst and Michael Laughlin's Strange Behavior (1981), Snapshot remains sufficiently obscure that most Internet references to it are incorrect. Labeled erroneously as both a romantic comedy and "Halloween-like" by critics who never bothered to track it down, the film is less a slasher than a loss-of-innocence tale, focusing as it does on a Melbourne hairdresser (Sigrid Thornton) as she dips into the demimonde of professional modeling. De Roche had written Long Weekend in only ten days and dashed off Snapshot in just four before the project was handed off to director Simon Wincer. The fashion world setting feels indebted to the John Carpenter-scripted Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), while the central codependence of Thornton's "ugly, awkward, stupid Angela" to Chantal Contouri's older, more experienced Madeline seems like a feathering of elements from Joseph L. Mankiewicz's All About Eve (1950) and the Joan Collins vehicle The Stud (1978). Intermittent suspense tropes notwithstanding, Snapshot refrains from playing its horror card until the third act, before a denouement that echoes the conclusion of Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (1960) and a twist in the tale that anticipates Gordon Willis' Windows (1980).

Horror movies with female protagonists often boil down to a woman's struggle to retain sovereignty over her own body. This conceit goes back at least as far as Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) and Herk Harvey's Carnival of Souls (1962) and was true of the De Roche-scripted Patrick, in which professional nurse Susan Penhaligon was pinioned between a sexually abusive ex-husband and the telekinetic advances of an ostensibly vegetative patient. For Snapshot, De Roche etches a cold, unsympathetic world populated by predators of every stripe, from a deceptively avuncular film producer (Robert Bruning) to Angela's doughy ex-lover (Vincent Gil), who stalks her from behind the wheel of his ice cream truck. Even Angela's mother (Julia Blake) is presented as a heartless user, cooking up a sob story to extort Angela into coughing up her modeling fees. With a slow pace and padded with some unforgivable disco interjections (and the comic stylings of the most disturbing cabaret performer in film history), Snapshot goes delightfully nutzoid in its third act, with a gratuitously prophetic dream, a severed pig's head and a climactic conflagration straight out of Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933). The film ends on an odd downbeat note that is at once retrograde in its aligning of homosexuality with psychopathy and yet charmingly atypical in its reassessment of the transference of evil, permitting a changed Angela to survive her ordeal at a psychic cost appreciably higher than her asking price.

Director: Simon Wincer
Producer: Antony I. Ginnane
Executive Producer: William Fayman
Associate Producer: Barbi Taylor
Writers: Everett De Roche, Chris De Roche
Original Music: Brian May
Cinematography: Vincent Monton
Editor: Philip Reid
Cast: Chantal Contouri (Madeline), Robert Bruning (Elmer), Sigrid Thornton (Angela), Hugh Keays-Byrne (Linsey), Vincent Gil (Daryl), Julia Blake (Mrs. Bailey), Jon Sidney (Mr. Pluckett), Denise Drysdale (Lily), Jacqui Gordon (Becky), Peter Stratford (Roger), Bob Brown (Captain Rock).C-104m.

by Richard Harland Smith

back to top