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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Drama > Cars > Voodoo > Metal Skin (Australian Action Film DVD/CD Set)

Metal Skin (Australian Action Film DVD/CD Set)


DVD: Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Film: B-

CD:   Sound: B     Music: B-



The idea of racecars, excitement and criminality only just became legitimate again for the first time since Burt Reynolds played that idea out in the early 1980s by the mid-1990s with silly Hollywood fare like the Sylvester Stallone’s bomb Driven and those hit Fast/Furious films that somehow were hits.  A new era of customized cars had hit as well, so should it be any surprise that the only interesting such film in this cycle is from Australia?  Yes, the home of Mad Max has delivered a better film with Geoffrey Wright’s Metal Skin, a wild 1995 film from the man who helped put Russell Crowe on the map with the ever-controversial Nazi skinhead drama Romper Stomper.


This time, the story involves a few love triangles, the kind of custom cars that fall somewhere between 1970s Americana and Mad Max, voodoo, car chases and fight scenes that are not typical in any way, much like the film.  One young man (Aden Young as Psycho Joe) is at home with his mentally ill father, but he gets interested in the girlfriend (Tara Morice) of his best friend (Ben Mendelsohn (Terrence Mallick’s The New World) as Dazey) while another girl is also interested in joining in and bringing Satan with her!


This is better than it sounds, and though it does not always cohere like readerly formula films, that does not make this an art picture necessarily either.  Instead, it is a raw film that is not pretentious, shows a different side of Australia (and we have seen more than most, including Subversive’s release of the excellent Blue Murder reviewed elsewhere on this site) that has shades of Mad Max, but is something different.  The voodoo never gets supernatural, so this is not a throwback to late 1960s/early 1970s independent genre filmmaking either, but a slice of life story filtered through a rougher fantasy world that stays raw and is never really surrealistic.  The people are real for the most part, even when the story subtly shakes suspension of disbelief.  Not as ideologically problematic as Romper Stomper, the original directing and good acting keep Metal Skin involving enough to catch and it is no wonder it is popular in its native country of release.  This DVD should give it a much-deserved wider audience and a new cinema to consider.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was shot in Super 35mm film by cinematographer Ron Hagen, A.C.S., and though the color is good, there is some softness due to the format’s inherent limits.  This is yet another solid, consistent transfer by Subversive that is a pleasure to watch.  The film was a Dolby Digital theatrical release and the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix here is decent.  John Clifford White’s score is not bad and there are songs here and there, as featured on the bonus CD included, whose PCM 16bit/44.1kHz 2.0 Stereo is slightly fuller than the film sound.


Extras include a poster and three lobby cards inside the DVD case, the CD and DVD itself offers a featurette about the making of the film that runs over a half hour, trailers for this and six other Subversive Cinema DVD releases, new introduction by Wright, commentary by Wright & friends and Wright’s hour-long film Lover Boy that was the basis for this film.  All in all, it is a very interesting set about another challenging film from a filmmaker who is also having commercial success.  No matter what you think about the film, it will leave an impression and show you different sides of the genre you will not see come out of any other cinema.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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