I confess: I am a little bit in love with Brian Trenchard-Smith. I think he is an excellent director who, arising in a time when basically anyone could do anything they wished in the Australian film industry, convincingly established a name for himself.
Trenchard-Smith directed the first Australian-Hong Kong co-production (The Man From Hong Kong) and has been influential in Quentin Tarantino’s films (Tarantino eventually dedicated Kill Bill to Trenchard-Smith when it opened at the Sydney International Film Festival). He was able to get Nicole Kidman to keep her hair curly in BMX Bandits and his views of the totalitarian future never fail to impress in Dead End Drive-In and Turkey Shoot. AND the Mambo shirts he wears in interviews are always interesting.
I also love ‘bad’/cult cinema- a genre in which Trenchard-Smith’s films have often been welcomed in. And so, when I was perusing IMDB one day and came upon Out of the Body (1989), I had to see it, and see it I did (thank you illegal VHS copies on youtube!).
The film opens on Sydney Harbour at night; the sound of docking boats, a couple in bed and a saxophone solo for the soundtrack. The man is David Gaze (Mark Hembrow), a musician whose girlfriend Neva (Tessa Humphries) is a student writing her thesis on Egyptology. That night David suffers from a nightmare in which a woman is pulled upwards, strung from a noose and has her eyes gauged out. Upon waking however, it seems that this event did indeed take place and David continues to suffer from dreams in which women are strung up and have their eyes cut out.
After trying to inform the police of his visions David becomes the lead suspect on the case and now must try to catch the real killer and prove his innocence. In the background to these events is Carla Dupre, a feminist writer who has always had contact with the victims shortly before they die. She also wears some of the most amazing shoulder-padded outfits I have seen - truly inspiring. The film continues and it soon becomes clear that these women are dying because of a demon-spirit-type that cannot be controlled, which leads to a mild police shoot-out, not much gore and a lot of contact lenses.
Out of the Body is as rambling as the plot seems to be. It leaves many questions unanswered (and not in a good way) and is quite slow, especially in comparison to other Trenchard-Smith movies, with much of the action taking place off-scene and with an unknown enemy the lead cannot go after it, guns ablaze, explosion sure to occur. I find this interesting because it was made after many of the films I have mentioned and seems very against the Trenchard-Smith ‘type,’ resulting in it having seemingly been lost in the influx of horror-esque films of the (late) 1980s. Whilst never making it to the cinema Out of the Body did make it to video, eventually being sold in a four pack with The 13th Floor, Vicious and Kadaicha.