Luke McWilliams gives his review of the 1983 film, Hostage, set in Wollongong.
In the 1970s in Wollongong NSW, 16-year-old Christine Maresch (Kerry Mack) works with her friends at a carnival. Soon, one of the workers, German immigrant Walter, (Ralph Schicha) gets besotted with the free-spirited teen, and abruptly proposes to her!
Back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, the Australian Government offered wannabe producers huge tax breaks on funding Australian movies amid the new R rating. This abruptly created the ‘Ozploitation’ genre: low budget movies filled with action, nudity, gore and which proudly featured the Australian landscape.
Hostage, based on the shocking true story of Christine Maresch who endured an abusive relationship with her neo-Nazi, bank-robbing husband, takes on these Ozploitation tropes. On one hand, it’s a true crime story delving into the facts of the matter, while simultaneously ramping up the ‘schlocky’ Ozploitation check-list items including the movie’s various posters, VHS covers and even alternative title, Savage Attraction. The movie is therefore an uneven experience; a shallow adaptation of Christine Maresch’s experiences as noted in her novel, and a ‘grind-house’ experience not as extreme as its peers. Its acting and accents are as expected for the era, but the look of 1970s NSW in celluloid film, enhanced to 4k, is gorgeous.
Verdict: While obviously an inspiration for 1989’s Dead Calm in terms of theme and even key scenes, it is otherwise hard to see why the movie was considered a classic worthy of a 4k rerelease. 2 stars.
- Luke McWilliams | themovieclub.net
Hostage is now available as an extended director’s cut released on Blu-Ray and DVD and is streaming on Google Play, Fetch TV and Umbrella Entertainment as a 4k restoration.