In 1975 the Australian underground released a highly controversial film about the heroin subculture. Four young people desperately searching for a fix in a world with no rules and death all around. Pure Shit speaks truths never mentioned in polite society but its tools are speed, rock 'n' roll, humour, and kaleidoscopic colour.

A junkie film whose reputation precedes it.

When Pure Shit had its premiere at Melbourne’s Playbox in May 1976, the Vice Squad raided the theatre. Originally banned by the censor in Australia, the filmmakers were forced to alter the title in ads and posters to the more digestible Pure S. It didn’t really matter because Bert Deling’s ferocious and ferociously funny picture seemed destined to follow the fate of so much of cinema’s odd, offbeat maverick movies - into oblivion.

Pure Shit was the kind of film that cultists and completist’s covet, mostly because, for thirty-five years it has been almost impossible to see. Its reputation as a cinematic 'phantom’ helped the legend around the film grow and added to its mystique, for Pure Shit had the reputation as the 'junkie film, made by junkies."

Made on the run, on 16mm, on a tiny budget, over four weekends, its rambling, episodic script harvested from the experiences of addicts and focusing on their manic 24 hour quest for a definitive 'hit’, Pure Shit is a piece of cinematic graffiti, that functions as doco-snapshot of Melbourne’s inner city drug culture c. 1975 all delivered without moral alibis, existentialist poetry or neat sociology.

The cast, mostly Carlton 'identities’ from the arts/theatre sector, knew first hand the strength of addiction and the eccentricities in behaviour and emotion its pull creates. They are terrific but especially Gary Waddell’s hilarious hyperactive Lou and Carol Porter’s sad eyed Gerry. Pure Shit is unromantic but it is political. Deling savages the moral hypocrisy of the State in their efforts to 'assist’ the addict. It was this unapologetic attitude that angered certain critics: one Melbourne Herald writer declared that Pure Shit was the 'most eveil film I have ever seen." Or maybe it was Deling’s comedic tone which offended since it juxtaposed vascular injections with sparky one liners (his role model was Howard Hawks' fast paced screwball classic His Girl Friday).

Beyond DVD have re-issued Pure Shit in a lavish 3-disc box set, that includes a stash of features that unpack the legend of the fim and reveal that some of the more scurrilous stories are indeed true; there is a fine and helpful essay by writer and filmmaker Megan Spencer, two separate commentaries and hours of interviews with cast and fans.


1 hour 13 min
Wed, 05/13/2009 - 11