Twenty Aussie Films that Umbrella Entertainment Need to Release on Bluray

One of the most exciting local developments on the physical media front in recent years has been the emerging numbered collections that Umbrella Entertainment has been putting out. From the height of Aussie genre-filmmaking with the Ozploitation collection, to the immersive and globe-spanning Beyond Genres collection that covers film that push the boundaries of their genre roots, to the pinnacle of Australian film celebration, the Sunburnt Screens collection.

With extras-loaded Blurays, and immaculate presentations, Australian films like Malcolm, The Big Steal, The Last Wave, Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds, Razorback, Stone, Stunt Rock, and many more (for Letterboxd fans, you can see how many of each collection you’ve watched at the links at the bottom of this post).

Umbrella were kind enough to offer a very helpful suggestion box service that, when launched, was overwhelmed with requests from fans around Australia eager for a proper release of their favourite Aussie films, lost or otherwise. (On the subject of ‘lost and unavailable’ Aussie films, I’ve been maintaining a Letterboxd list which documents Aussie films that can’t readily be viewed.)

With that said, there’s always a truck load more that could be given new life via these extensive collections. Below are twenty Aussie films that need to be put out by Umbrella Entertainment… (this list will be updated if any of the entries is included in any of the above collections).


The Fringe Dwellers

dir. Bruce Beresford

Previously released by Umbrella on DVD, The Fringe Dwellers recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, deserving its place alongside the other Bruce Beresford films in the varied collections (Breaker Morant, The Adventures of Barry McKenzie, with Puberty Blues and Money Movers on the horizon). Notable for being the first Australian film to feature an Indigenous cast in all major roles, The Fringe Dwellers is a film that deserves its moment in the spotlight. In the history of Australian films, The Fringe Dwellers is one I am yet to experience, and as such, would love to see it re-released so it can be critically reassessed by modern audiences.

Ideal Collection: Sunburnt Screens

Ned

dir. Abe Forsythe

Abe Forsythe’s career has delved into a unique slice of Aussie comedy that has rarely been matched or replicated. While Down Under and Little Monsters have their dedicated supporters, its his early career Ned Kelly-comedy Ned that desperately needs a physical re-release. Copies of the long out of print are available on eBay for upwards and over $99, making the desire for folks keen to check out what a Ned Kelly comedy looks like. If Wikipedia is to go by, Ned had some pretty major supporters, such as Shaun Micallef who called it ‘the funniest Australian film made in the last ten years’. Given that decade encompasses a period where The Castle, The Dish, and Crackerjack was released, that’s a pretty high bar. And given the reaction to True History of the Kelly Gang, where Kelly-faithfuls decried its fudging of the truth, I’d be curious to see how this farce fares nowdays.

Ideal Collection: Beyond Genres

Young Einstein and Reckless Kelly

dir. Yahoo Serious

From one comedy legend to maybe the most famous Australian comedy legend: Yahoo Serious. While his bona fide masterpieces Young Einstein and Reckless Kelly are available on streaming services, they have a habit of disappearing completely. Unfairly maligned and mocked for his brand of comedy, Yahoo Serious deserves modern recognition as being one of the most brilliant, entertaining, and passionately bonkers filmmakers Australia has ever seen. I mean, the man was on the front cover of TIME magazine for crying out loud, how many Australian filmmakers can say that? Honestly, I’m genuinely surprised that someone has made a mint from dishing out an extras packed Bluray of either film (and yes, I’m deliberately avoiding mentioning Mr Accident, although including that as an extra would be appreciated). Even if Mr Serious himself was absent from commentaries or interviews, at the very least you’d have diehard Yahoo Serious afficionado, Luke Buckmaster, at the ready to offer commentary duties.

Ideal Collection: Sunburnt Screens

Read Andrew’s piece on Yahoo Serious here.

beDevil

dir. Tracey Moffatt

History was made in 1993 with beDevil, with director Tracey Moffatt becoming the first Aboriginal woman director in Australian film history. Additionally, in the realm of Australian horror films, there are precious few entries from Aboriginal filmmakers, making beDevil all the more valuable and interesting in Australian film history. Given the wealth of Aboriginal stories on film and TV that we’re witnessing right now, and recent restoration by the NFSA, beDevil is a film that’s virtually begging for a new physical release.

Ideal Collection: Beyond Genres

Lantana

dir. Ray Lawrence

Look, I’m as surprised as you are that Ray Lawrence’s films aren’t readily available to buy on physical media. As one of Australia’s finest directors, his work is begging to be appreciated by a wider audience at large. I’ll champion Bliss all day, but it’s Lantana that desperately needs a re-release, especially as we’re in the 20th anniversary of its release. I’ve written at length about Lantana before, highlighting why I feel it’s the best Australian film out there, but really, a nice new restoration on a Bluray (with Paul Kelly’s summer-soaked score on a CD – or would it be too much to ask for a vinyl release? – too would be great) for physical media fans to champion would be evidence enough why Lantana is a masterpiece that deserves further acclaim.

Ideal Collection: Sunburnt Screens

Read Andrew’s review of Lantana here.

Celia

dir. Ann Turner

Celia was released a few years ago on DVD by Umbrella alongside The Tale of Ruby Rose, and while that release is highly welcomed, this top tier Australian film deserves a place alongside some of the genre greats in the Beyond Genres collection. With a new release coming very soon from Severin Films via the Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched collection, it would be nice for Australian audiences to be able to collect an almost hidden gem of Australian horror via an Australian label. The terror and fear that resides within Celia is a tangible one, with Ann Turner’s direction being unparalleled. For some reason, both Ann’s name, and Celia itself, rarely stray into the conversation of Great Australian Films, which is a genuine shame. A Bluray release would be best suited to have a panel discussion from Lee Gambin, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Emma Westwood, and Sally Christie like they have done previously for Long Weekend (in fact, I stand by the reasoning that there should be a panel discussion series from all the Cinemaniacs crew available on Bluray).

Ideal Collection: Beyond Genres

Read Travis J’s review of Celia here.

Soft Fruit

dir. Christina Andreef

Jeanie Drynan is one of Australia’s great character actors, and with her 1999 film, Soft Fruit (for which she received an AFI Best Actress nomination, losing out to her co-star Sacha Horler, who made history winning both Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress [for Praise] in 1999), she delivered one of her greatest performances. Reinforcing the need for family to stick together, Soft Fruit details how we are often pulled apart from our siblings as we grow older, only to be reunited via death or dying. Lost amongst the many Australian films that have quietly slipped into the history of Aussie film, Soft Fruit is one that deserves reviving and recognition thanks to Umbrella.

Ideal Collection: Sunburnt Screens

The Magician

dir. Scott Ryan

If you were to watch The Magician in its initial release in 2005, you would be hard pressed to guess that it would go on to spawn a hugely successful and highly acclaimed series: Mr Inbetween. Yet, with the series now having concluded and wrapping up the narrative of sympathetic Melbourne hitman Ray Shoesmith (played with concerning ease by director Scott Ryan), it’s time to turn the spotlight back to where it all began. Criminally unavailable on DVD for a long time, The Magician shows the ingenuity and smarts of low-budget filmmaking, and as such, it should be held up as a Tarantino-imitator done right.

Ideal Collection: Beyond Genres

Read Andrew’s review of The Magician here.

The Blood of Heroes aka Salute of the Jugger

dir. David Webb Peoples

In the great realm of lost Aussie classics that demand a revival of sorts, the name that keeps popping up, time and time again, is the Rutger Hauer Aussie-American war flick, The Blood of Heroes. Alternatively known as Salute of the Jugger, this film – shot in Coober Pedy – has had various, hard to find releases around the world (most recently, a 2017 Japan release), but yet, has struggled to get a physical release in Australia. No doubt genre-fiends and war-hounds alike will lap up this dalliance into violence, especially if the uncut version was included on the disc. Personally, I just want to see what all the fuss is about.

Ideal Collection: Ozploitation Classics

Idiot Box and Mullet and Dirty Deeds

dir. David Caesar

I’m as stumped as you are that David Caesar’s finest hours aren’t available on Bluray right now, especially given the major career revival that Ben Mendelsohn has had over the past decade, making him a household name and celebrated icon near and far. Mendo’s double-whammy in Idiot Box and Mullet are all-timers, with his pairing alongside Jeremy Sims in the former becoming an iconic duo in 90s Aussie cinema. That poster, with two cheeky blokes legging it, is as iconic as they come. Then there’s Dirty Deeds, a film so great that I saw it twice on opening day. With a truly stacked cast including Bryan Brown doing a seventies era Two Hands performance, Sam Neill, Toni Collette, John Goodman, and Sam Worthington in the lead (in a time where he was great), Dirty Deeds desperately needs a bit of a revival. These are the kinds of films you want to buy up all the copies you can and give them to everyone who loves great cinema.

Ideal Collection: Sunburnt Screens

Lonely Hearts

dir. Paul Cox

As depressing as it is to admit (I promise, I’ll hand in my Australian film lover card if asked to), I’m sadly deficient in the filmography of Paul Cox. As one of Australia’s most prolific directors, it’s a genuine shame that the majority of his films are no longer available to buy or rent. His 1982, Best Film AFI Award winner Lonely Hearts is the one that sits atop the pile of Cox films I’m eager to seek out and dig into. In a dream world, a box set of Paul Cox films would help existing fans and newcomers appreciate the work of one of Australia’s greatest film legends.

Ideal Collection: Sunburnt Screens

Don’s Party

dir. Bruce Beresford

Bruce Beresford again (almost like Umbrella should just release another collection full of Beresford’s films), but this time one that desperately needs a re-release in time for the next Federal Election. Don’s Party marks a rare time that an Australian politician makes a cameo in a fictional Australian film, with PM John Gorton making a brief appearance. What sets this one apart from most navel-gazing politico dramas is the manner that Beresford immerses viewers completely in the era of the seventies. Surprisingly timeless, and frequently provocative, Don’s Party will no doubt give Labor voters a dramatised version of their depressive states that they’ve felt after subsequent loss after loss at Federal elections where they were pinged to win. Maybe next time, hey?

Ideal Collection: Ozploitation Classics

Read Travis J’s review of Don’s Party here.

Love, Serenade

dir. Shirley Barrett

As one of two Australian directors to have won the prestigious Camera d’Or prize at the Cannes film festival (the other being Warwick Thornton for Samson and Delilah in 2009), Shirley Barett stands a rare internationally celebrated Aussie screen icon. With her 1996 debut feature, Love, Serenade, Barrett managed to portray rural Australia with its beef in black bean sauce meal reflecting the darkly comedic tone throughout the film. Miranda Otto shines as Dimity, with her on-screen sister Vicki-Ann being portrayed with an impressive familial bond by Rebecca Frith. While Barrett’s career has continued with TV work, its Love, Serenade that reminds us how great Australian cinema was in the 1990s.

Ideal Collection: Sunburnt Screens

Love, and Other Catastrophes

dir. Emma-Kate Croghan

While there are a wealth of Secret Life of Us-adjacent films from the late-90s and early-00s that all flittered in a similar friend-group genre milieu, it’s Emma-Kate Croghan’s queer-focused AFI award nominated dramedy, Love, and Other Catastrophes that stands as the pinnacle of the genre. Yeah, Sample People and Garage Days had their time, but they don’t hold up as well as this one does. As the search for queer stories on screen continues, it’s time one of the early Aussie entries in the genre is given time in the spotlight once again.

Ideal Collection: Sunburnt Screens

Praise

dir. John Curran

Trailer for Praise on TrailerAddict.

No film has managed to capture the sticky, sweat-soaked heat of an Australian summer quite like John Curran’s masterpiece, Praise, did. Featuring an all time great double hander from Peter Fenton (is it too much to ask for a Love is a Four-Letter Word box set too?) and Sacha Horler, Curran manages to breathe exasperated life into Andrew McGahan’s unsettled script. Steeped in a world of sex, drugs, and mental health problems, Praise’s impact can be felt throughout the Australian film industry in films like Candy and the criminally underseen A Cold Summer, yet no film can match its power and brilliance. With an upcoming release of Ana Kokkinos’ essential 90s drama, Head On, on the horizon, it’s only fair that its genre-brethren, Praise, is given the same kind of care and celebration from Umbrella.

Ideal Collection: Sunburnt Screens

Radiance

dir. Rachel Perkins

Rachel Perkins powerful debut feature, Radiance, received a welcome restoration via the NFSA recently, but other than that, has yet to find a path to physical media. Featuring a trio of excellent performances from Rachael Maza, Trisha Morton-Thomas, and Deborah Mailman (who won Best Actress at the AFI Awards), Radiance stuns with its sisterly trio bonding together at their mothers’ funeral. Crafted with compassion and empathy, Radiance also stands as proof of what powerful talents would emerge from both Rachel Perkins and then first-time cinematographer, Warwick Thornton. Criminally unavailable for far too long.

Ideal Collection: Sunburnt Screens

Vacant Possession

dir. Margot Nash

Yet another film restored by the wonderful NFSA, and yet another film criminally unavailable for a long period of time, Vacant Possession features a powerhouse performance from Pamela Rabe as the lead, Tessa, and immersive and, at times, overwhelming cinematography from future Oscar winner Dion Beebe. I saw this for the first time earlier in 2021 thanks to MIFF online, and honestly, am a little furious it’s been unavailable to find for home viewing. I know there have been screenings at ACMI throughout the years, but that’s a long way to go from Perth for one film. Regardless, after seeing it this year, I’m certain this demands a home release.

Ideal Collection: Sunburnt Screens


So there are twenty films that Umbrella Entertainment need to release on Bluray. What are your picks?

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