Episode 38: Death Warmed Up (1984)

What do you get when you mix together brainwashing, gory brain surgery, cryogenics, zombies, and motorbike chases? You get New Zealand’s first horror film Death Warmed Up, a delirious tale of mad science and revenge. Hayden and L.J. dive in to discuss structure, influences, and Bruno Lawrence’s exploding head.

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Director: David Blyth
Producer: Murray Newey
Screenplay: Michael Heath, David Blyth
Director of photography: James Bartle
Editor: David Huggett
Composer: Mark Nicholas

Cast:
Michael Tucker…
Michael Hurst
Sandy…Margaret Umbers
Lucas…William Upjohn
Jeannie…Norelle Scott
Spider…David Letch
Dr. Howell…Gary Day

Notes:

  • The Screenline DVD release is sadly out-of-print, but we recommend tracking down a copy if you want to see the film as it’s the only guaranteed way to see the uncut version. Copies periodically show up on second-hand sites like TradeMe. If you live in New Zealand, it can be rented from Aro Video. Information about other releases is available from NZ Videos, but we can’t vouch for their quality.
  • The interviews with David Blyth and Michael Heath included as an extra on the Screenline DVD can be viewed at NZ On Screen. The wildly OTT trailer is worth a look as well.
  • Death Warmed Up won the Grand Prix at the International Festival of Fantasy & Science Fiction Films, Paris in 1984. The jury that year was headed by Alejandro Jodorowsky.
  • There are a couple of minor errors in the plot synopsis Hayden gives in the episode. He incorrectly states that both Lucas and Jeannie are unaware of Michael’s revenge plans – it is actually only Jeannie who is in the dark. There’s also some confusion over the exact nature of Dr. Howell’s facility – in the film it is briefly referred to as a psychiatric institute.
  • Ant Timpson’s blog contains a nice recollection of his first encounter with Death Warmed Up.
  • If you’re interested in more info on the type of censorship the film suffered in several territories, a list of the Australian cuts is available at the excellent Refused-Classification.com along with some notes from Blyth.
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Episode 37: Wild Horses (1984)

There’s no way to sugar-coat it: Wild Horses is an absolute trainwreck of a film. The story of how a man’s dreams of wrangling horses are threatened by evil Government conservationists(?!), it’s a baffling mess on almost every level. Hayden and L.J. break out their tools for an impromptu autopsy in an attempt to figure out how a production with so many talented people involved could go so horribly wrong.

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Director: Derek Morton
Producer: John Barnett
Original Screenplay: Kevin O’Sullivan
Director of photography: Doug Milsome
Editor: Simon Reece

Cast:
Mitch…
Keith Aberdein
Jack…John Bach
Harry…Kevin J. Wilson
Sara…Robyn Gibbes
Sam…Tom Poata
Tyson…Bruno Lawrence

Notes:

  • If you live in New Zealand, Australia, or the UK, you’re lucky enough to be able to rent or buy a lovely restored copy of Wild Horses from NZ Film On Demand. Since the cinematography is one of the only things the film has going for it, we don’t recommend viewing inferior DVD or VHS copies, but if that’s your only option NZ Videos is the place to go for info.
  • This is probably the only chance we’ll have to talk about Derek Morton. As mentioned in the podcast he has a pretty interesting history and it’s worth checking out NZ On Screen’s great biography to get a more detailed overview of his career.
  • If you want to get a sense of how critics reacted to Wild Horses when it was released, here’s a review from Vincent Canby at The New York Times. It’s not exactly complimentary.

Episode 36: The Silent One (1984)

Growing up isn’t easy for young deaf-mute Jonasi (Telo Malese). Misunderstood and mistrusted by many in his isolated Pacific Island community, he finds companionship with a rare white turtle he encounters while fishing. But the turtle’s presence will cause buried tensions to emerge within his small community as it struggles with a lengthy drought.

Adapted from a best-selling children’s novel by Joy Cowley, The Silent One is an ambitious  debut feature from director Yvonne Mackay. Hayden and L.J. dive in to discuss underwater photography, turtle wrangling, and how the film holds up today.

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Director: Yvonne Mackay
Producer: Dave Gibson
Screenplay: Ian Mune based on a novel by Joy Cowley
Director of photography: Ian Paul
Underwater photography: Ron Taylor, Valerie Taylor
Editor: Jamie Selkirk
Music: Jenny McLeod

Cast:
Jonasi…
Telo Malese
Paui Te Po…George Henare
Luisa…Pat Evison
Tasiri…Anzac Wallace
Taruga…Rongo Tupatea Kahu

Notes:

  • The DVD release of The Silent One appears to be out of print, but copies can still be found from some sources. As usual, NZ Videos is the place to go for more information.
  • For more information on Jenny McLeod and her score for The Silent One, the interview that L.J. mentions can be found here. A more general overview of her work is available at SOUNZ.

Episode 35: Constance (1984)

Never Repeats takes a trip back in time to post-WWII Auckland, a decidedly unglamorous place to live, unless you’re Constance Elsworthy (Donogh Rees). A stylish and ambitious debut, Bruce Morrison’s Constance is both a tribute to, and subversion of, the great Hollywood melodramas. Hayden and L.J. gather round their microphones to talk about the  complex nature of the central character, the film’s design, and whether it lives up to its ambitions.

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Director: Bruce Morrison
Producer: Larry Parr
Screenplay: Jonathan Hardy, Bruce Morrison
Director of photography: Kevin Hayward
Editor: Philip Howe

Cast:
Constance Elsworthy…
Donogh Rees
Alexander Elsworthy…Martin Vaughan
Sylvia Elsworthy…Judie Douglass
Richard…Mark Wignall
Noeline…Hester Joyce
John Munroe…Donald MacDonald
Mrs. Barr…Lee Grant
Simon Maylon…Shane Briant

Notes:

  • While the Screenline DVD of Constance is indeed out of print, copies aren’t difficult to track down. NZ Videos links to an international supplier selling new copies, and there are numerous TradeMe auctions for second-hand discs.
  • If you want more Donogh Rees you can check out the short film Pheno was Here at NZ On Screen.
  • We also recommend the ScreenTalk interview with Bruce Morrison.

Episode 34: Trespasses (1984)

What do you get when you make a movie based on a popular TV series, shuffle the main characters into supporting roles, and convince Patrick McGoohan to star in it? You end up with Peter Sharp’s Trespasses, a psychological thriller about a young woman (Emma Piper) who runs off to join a commune to the consternation of her puritanical father (McGoohan). Spun-off from the TV cop drama Mortimer’s Patch and co-written by Maurice Gee, it has all the ingredients of a fascinating film. So why does it remain obscure?

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Director: Peter Sharp
Producers: Tom Finlayson, Dean Hill
Screenplay: Maurice Gee, Tom Finlayson
Director of photography: Leon Narbey
Editor: David Coulson
Music: Bernie Allen

Cast:
Fred Wells…Patrick McGoohan
Katie Wells…Emma Piper
Albie Stone…Andy Anderson
Doug Mortimer…Terence Cooper
Stan Gubbins…Frank Whitten
Bob Storey…Don Selwyn
Dave Gilchrist…Sean Duffy

Notes:

  • Trespasses is another one of those films that’s almost impossible to see (legitimately). It was released on VHS in a number of countries, sometimes under the alternate title Omen of Evil, and copies will turn up on auction sites from time to time. As usual, NZ Videos is your first stop for any further information. They provide a link to a website selling bootleg DVD-R’s of the film, but we don’t recommend paying for bootlegs.
  • While Trespasses may be difficult to see, there are two episodes of Mortimer’s Patch available at NZ On Screen. It’s a good old-fashioned cop show with great acting, solid writing, and a calm, deliberate sense of pacing. Hayden recommends checking it out.

Episode 33: An Interview with David Blyth (Part Two)

In the second of a two-part special, Hayden and L.J. sit down with director David Blyth (Angel Mine, Death Warmed Up) for an in-depth discussion of his career. In this episode we talk about his work on ’90s TV shows like White Fang and Fresh-up in the Deep End, his documentaries about BDSM (Bound for Pleasure) and masking (Transfigured Nights), his controversial return to feature film-making with Wound, and his ongoing series of interviews with war veterans Memories of Service.

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Notes:

  • For more information on David Blyth and his films the best resource is probably his website. There are plenty of links to news articles and resources about his most recent work – as well as contact information for the man himself.
  • A number of the works discussed in this episode are available to view at NZ On Screen. These include the war documentaries Our Oldest Soldier and French Connection, and war veteran interview series Memories of Service. Unfortunately The Call Up can no longer be watched in full, but only as a 10 minute excerpt.
  • If you’re looking for copies of Wound or Ghost Bride, your best resource is NZ Videos.
  • Sadly, neither Bound for Pleasure or Transfigured Nights have ever received home video releases, and the streaming service that previously hosted Bound for Pleasure is no longer online. Your best hope of seeing either film is probably to get in touch with David himself.

Episode 32: An Interview with David Blyth (Part One)

In the first of a two-part special, Hayden and L.J. sit down with director David Blyth (Angel Mine, Death Warmed Up) for an in-depth discussion of his career. In this episode we talk about the making of his controversial first feature Angel Mine, working on the TV soap Close to Home, getting A Woman of Good Character off the ground, meeting Alejandro Jodorowsky, being fired from The Horror Show, directing on the first season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and much, much more.

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Notes:

  • Something we completely forgot to mention in our intro is that the other voice you hear popping in from time to time is Michael Heath, who wrote Death Warmed Up and Moonrise.
  • For more information on David Blyth and his films the best resource is probably his website. There are plenty of links to news articles and resources about his most recent work – as well as contact information for the man himself.
  • David’s work can be frustratingly difficult to track down, with some films unavailable on DVD, some only available from various international sources, and some not on home video at all. For Angel Mine and A Woman of Good Character you can refer to the notes for our podcast episodes about them. For the rest of his NZ-shot films there’s information available at the always reliable NZ Videos website. When it comes to everything else, your best bet is to check out Amazon and eBay.