I don’t know how films get lost but somehow they do. Was it an accident? Negligence? Someone so traumatised by the film that they felt the need to burn every copy in existence? Sometimes we may never know.
Thankfully At Last… Bullamakanka: The Motion Picture is not one of these films but it is, however, rare and difficult to find. It has yet to dissolve into oblivion and I am hoping that this review renews some interest in it. No film should be forgotten about no matter how bad, although I will admit that Bullamakanka surely tests this belief of mine.
Written and filmed in 1984 by Simon Heath (his only feature) the film is not mentioned on Screen Australia’s website as ever having been made. But it was made, and I’ve watched it, and re-watched it, and read newspaper articles about it, and am now writing about it. Why? Well, because I can.
The plot is completely nonsensical. In an outback town (Bullamakanka) an unpopular and dodgy politician is up for re-election and has decided to hold a (rigged) horse race and beauty contest to garner national attention for his campaign. Alongside this is a group of boy scouts who are managing a band, running a bootleg whiskey business and helping out a local farmer get his land back. Other things also happen but, to be honest, I was distracted by the long list of celebrity cameos that appear in the film.
Molly Meldrum plays a priest, Frank Thring essentially just plays himself, Angry Anderson and Rose Tattoo appear and perform (naturally), Derryn Hinch and Gordon Elliot play thugs, John Farnham a policeman and there are countless more. Gordon Elliot, a respectable television morning-show host at the time, went on to call the film the “worst movie ever made” and “appalling”. These cameos may explain the films supposed $1.5 million budget because it definitely doesn’t show in the acting, the set locations, the props, or the dialogue.
Partly-supported by Channel 9, the film never made it to cinemas and only appeared on Australian television in 1986 after being filmed in 1984 and then suffering from editing “problems” and “delays”. It also faced legal problems because of the little known Australian band ‘Bullamakanka’.
If you ever get a chance to watch this film, do. Tell people about it, and tell them to tell more people about it because whilst it is a bad film and whilst one could probably argue the case that Bullamakanka goes past the its-so-bad-its-good category and straight into the burn-it-now! category this should not be the case. At least you can say you’ve sat through it… and survived.