“I'm sort of stepping back into documentaries, which I never thought would happen,” says Mark Hartley, who recently directed his narrative feature debut, a remake of Richard Franklin's 1978 horror shocker, Patrick.
The Melbourne-based filmmaker behind 2008's highly entertaining Aussie exploitation documentary Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation and the Filipino genre follow-up, Machete Maidens Unleashed, is about to delve into the uncharted territory of Cannon Films, the American company behind numerous '80s low-brow action films, including the notorious Death Wish sequels.
“It's very much like Not Quite Hollywood but it's going to cover the career tread path of Golan and Globus,” says Hartley (pictured), referring to the cousin producers of Cannon's golden era. “What a lot of people don't realise is that they used the money made from the Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris movies to finance films for the likes of Andrey Konchalovskiy, Godard, and people like that,” he reveals.
The documentary is set to commence shooting in late January/early February 2014.
However, it appears Hartley's hiatus from feature filmmaking will be short lived. Patrick producer Antony I. Ginnane is keen to rehire him to direct a re-imagining of Mario Andreacchio's Aussie exploitation flick from 1986, Fair Game. Ginnane himself was responsible for a slew of the films which featured in Hartley's Not Quite Hollywood, like Thirst, Harlequin and the original Patrick.
"Mark had a great affection for and understanding of Australian genre cinema and I believe the dedication and detail he brought to Patrick will be as valuable here," says the producer. "This will be a big action revenge thriller significantly shot on location."
“I told him I'm keen to do it as long as we can strip all the exploitation elements out of it and make it a really tense action film,” says Hartley.
Fair Game follows a woman who runs a wildlife sanctuary in the outback who becomes terrorised by kangaroo shooters. The film infamously featured a scene with a naked woman strapped to the bonnet of a truck. “I want to make this as a cross between Straw Dogs, Duel and The Naked Prey,” explains Hartley. “We'll do it with hardly any dialogue, just this woman being pursed and then her getting her own back on them…we'll make it a really strong female character and get a good actress to play her. That's the plan and we'll see what happens.”
The filmmaker was also set to direct a documentary on 83-year-old veteran Australian actor Rod Taylor, who starred in The Time Machine, Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, and more recently made a cameo as Winton Churchill in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. Hartley, however, confirms he's no longer attached to the project.