SNAPSHOT: Vinegar Syndrome Releases an Ozploitation Rarity on Blu-ray

Snapshot (1979) hits Blu-ray this week thanks to Vinegar Syndrome and was released at the height of the Ozploitation craze; hitting theaters only a year after Richard Franklin’s Patrick and the same year George Miller’s Mad Max. Produced for a scant $100,000, Snapshot is probably most notorious for being released in the US under the moniker The Day After Halloween to capitalize on Carpenter’s Classic, which hit theaters the year before. For Halloween completists the Blu-ray/DVD Combo even comes with a reversible cover bearing that title.

Produced by Antony I Ginnane who also was behind Patrick and Thirst, Snapshot was Simon Wincer’s (D.A.R.Y.L./Free Willy) feature length debut after churning out close to 200 hours of television in the 1970s. The racy suspense thriller follows Angela (Sigrid Thornton), a hairdresser trapped in a mundane existence who, after landing a once in a lifetime modeling gig, is having trouble managing her newfound fame and her stalker ex-boyfriend. With everyone around her trying to take advantage of the naïve young woman, Angela also still has to contend with her Mr. Whippy (Australia’s version of Mister Softee) truck driving ex who’s been leaving garish reminders that he will do whatever he can to keep her from being happy without him. It’s an awkward mix as you have this cautionary tale of the modeling world, with both men and women preying upon Angela, while also having this stalker situation with a man double her age.

Tonally, Snapshot is all over the place, which gives some credence to the rumors that the original script was scrapped with a new one written in three weeks prior to production. Sigrid Thornton does, however, manage to carry the film to the finish line with a performance that has the woman just enduring one horrific ordeal after another. It’s a rough mix that, while very entertaining, can’t seem to make up its mind about what it wants to do with its beautiful protagonist. One narrative forces Angela to empower herself to stand up against her ex, while the other is just pure exploitation. While the lurid thriller does deliver the goods, it does so at the price of a cohesive or truly satisfying story, which was strangely enough co-written by Everett De Roche, who also wrote Roadgames, Long Weekend and Razorback.

The film is presented in a stunning HD transfer of the “International Cut” of Snapshot due to the original negative elements being edited into this configuration. For purists the original Australian cut is preserved, via a VHS quality transfer as an extra on the disc. For those that caught Mark Hartley’s excellent Doc on Ozploitation Not Quite Hollywood the extended interviews pertaining to Snapshot from director Simon Wincer and star Sigrid Thornton (as well as other principal cast and crew) are included on the disc as an extra. Also included is a Commentary track with Simon Wincer, Tony Ginnane (producer), Sigrid Thornton and Vincent Monton, who fondly reminisce about the experiences working on the film. While they do discuss the strengths of Snapshot, they are also pretty candid about some of the weaknesses as well; which makes for both a fun and informative listen.

Snapshot may not be perfect, but it’s an enjoyable watch thanks to a cast that gives this script way more weight than it probably deserves. This is primarily thanks to Sigrid Thornton who garnered an Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award nomination for Best Actress in a leading role for her turn as Angela. Its great to see some of the lesser known Ozploitation films get a legit release thanks to Vinegar Syndrome, who has put together a great package that really helps to not only present the film in the best way possible, but also to contextualize it for fans just dipping their toes into this genre. For fans of oddities from down under, Snapshot is a great example of one of the more interesting offerings and if you’re looking for similar films definitely check out Mark Hartley’s comprehensive Doc on Ozploitation Not Quite Hollywood for more viewing.

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