Angela (Sigrid Thornton, MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER), a nineteen-year-old put-upon Sydney hairdresser gets the opportunity of a lifetime when glamorous model Madeleine (Chantal Contouri, BARRY MacKENZIE HOLDS HIS OWN) offers her work not as her personal hairstylist but as a model. Angela is hesitant to accept her offer of help; after all her mother (Julia Blake, PATRICK) says she’s plain, her boss (Jon Sidney, THE LIGHTHORSEMAN) says she’s stupid, her creepy older Mr. Whippy truck driving boyfriend Daryl (Vincent Gil, ENCOUNTER AT RAVEN’S GATE) thinks she’s frigid – her bratty younger sister Becky (Jacqui Gordon, THIRST) doesn’t think she could get anyone better – and she’s flat-chested (Madeleine reassures her that “Tits went out with Jayne Mansfield!”). Madeleine introducers her to eccentric photographer – is there any other kind in film – Linsey (Hugh Keays-Byrne, MAD MAX) who specializes in photographic “still death” (as opposed to “still life”).
Although he is distracted with his project, he decides to use her in a cologne shoot taking place the next day. Angela is hesitant about doing a beach shoot requiring nudity, but she is assured that her face will not be shown. The money is also tempting: $1000 for half-a-day (double for nudity). Of course it should come as no surprise that she discovers her face plain as day in a fashion magazine’s two-page spread ad (which she learns will soon grace four hundred billboards throughout Australia). Locked out of the house by her mother, Angela asks to crash at Linsey’s studio. Settling into her adventurous new life, Angela finds that photographers and advertisers aren’t exactly knocking down her door. Linsey, Madeleine, and others promise her that she’ll be a smash once the campaign’s demographics get back to the advertisers. When her snooping mother drops by and steals her cash while hypocritically judging her new sinful lifestyle, Angela is desperate to find work to pay the rent. Oh, and someone is stalking her every move and leaving grisly presents for her in her loft. Is it Mr. Whippy, eccentric Linsey, ambiguous Madeleine, Madeleine’s producer husband (Robert Bruning, NED KELLY), sleazy lawyer Roger (Peter Stratford, DAMNED BY DAWN), or a host of other shady characters who would take advantage of Angela’s naiveté and desperation?
Don’t go into THE DAY AFTER HALLOWEEN expecting a teen slasher (obviously); despite the fashion milieu, don’t go into the film expecting an Australian THE EYES OF LAURA MARS. Originally titled SNAPSHOT, the film was the sixth feature produced by Anthony Ginnane, following the sexploitation duo FANTASM, the dramas SYMPHONY IN SUMMER and BLUE FIRE PLADY, and international horror hit PATRICK. It was also the second of a sextet classic Ozploitation pics including the aforementioned Richard Franklin film, the vampire pic THIRST, David Hemmings’ THE SURVIVOR (based on the novel by James Herbert), the modern-day telekinetic Rasputin tale HARLEQUIN/DARK FORCES, the pseudo-slasher STRANGE BEHAVIOR/DEAD KIDS, and Brian Trenchard-Smith’s futuristic ESCAPE 2000/BLOOD CAMP THATCHER. Director Simon Wincer’s film is more of a drama about the price of fame with a subplot in which the heroine is not so much menaced as intermittently annoyed by a stalker (it ain’t no THE FAN either). Angela spends more time fending off advances from dirty old men (and more subtle ones from Madeleine) and alienating her Bohemian loftmates. Despite being a piece of Ozploitation and having a script shot through with provocative elements, SNAPSHOT is rather tame with little bloodshed and sex. PATRICK didn’t need much of that because – like director Richard Franklin’s later ROAD GAMES – its Hitchcockian borrowings were stimulating (so much so that Franklin was chosen to direct PSYCHO II), THIRST had an unpredictable paranoia-driven plot to keep things interesting, while the others had their share of nudity and bloodshed.
SNAPSHOT has a passive heroine who has to be shoved into action, although the script does effectively convey how her mother, sister, boyfriend, and boss have worn her down while blaming her for her attitude. While her monumental naivety allows for some exploitation-worthy scenarios (being convinced to take some cheesecake photos for a producer, actually believing that her face won’t be shown in the ad, and being oblivious to ballsy Madeleine’s advances), they inevitably lead to awkwardness before the audience has anything to savor. The stalking element is more of an infrequently recurring subplot rather than part of the main storyline, and the first sustained suspense sequence does not occur until more than an hour into the film (well, about five minutes or so earlier in the US cut). The ending is surprising, not so much for the revelation of who is behind all (or at least some) of Angela’s frights but for an additional subversive twist. Cinematographer Vincent Monton – who also lensed PATRICK and THIRST as well as the Ozploitation classic LONG WEEKEND – keeps the film visually interesting a handful of crane shots, suspense-lighting in the loft and studio scenes, saturated gels in the club scenes, and balanced scope compositions (into which the Mr. Whippy van either creeps into the background or is glimpsed reflected in a window), but it’s largely for naught. Production designer Jon Dowding (THE BLUE LAGOON) was also a Ginnane regular and the décor of the studio and loft is appropriately eclectic (Katarina Leigh Waters even points out a string of garlic in Angela’s loft that might be a cheeky reference to THIRST which was in production at the time, even though its vampires were not exactly traditional). Regular Ginnane composer Brian May (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5: THE DREAM CHILD) is on hand for another orchestral score, but it only really comes to life during the infrequent suspense scenes. Pop group Sherbert contributes an AM-radio-esque theme song for Angela heard in its three-and-a-half minute entirety during the beach photo shoot montage.
Thornton is gorgeous but believably dowdy in the first quarter. The script is more likely to blame than her performance for how generally uninteresting Angela is until the final scene where she finally does figuratively grow a pair and let loose at a character who tries to control her. Thornton had been acting in television and TV commercials – where she met Wincer – since the early seventies; but before SNAPSHOT she had received greater recognition with a role in Bruce Beresford’s THE GETTING OF WISDOM. She also did a stint on the popular Australian “women in prison” TV series PRISONER (better known to UK viewers as PRISONER: CELL BLOCK H). Thornton is married to producer Tom Burstall – son of director Tim Burstall (ATTACK FORCE Z) – who, at the time, was first assistant director on this film as well as THIRST and PATRICK. Thornton would reunite with Ginnane and Wincer in the eighties for the WWI film THE LIGHTHORSEMAN. Madeleine is a more interesting, if rather cliché ball-breaking lesbian character and Contouri looks great in every shot and has some of the best lines. Contouri had won the Australian equivalent of an Emmy for a TV series before SNAPSHOT and would take the lead in Ginnane’s next production THIRST. Blake was memorable as the matron in PATRICK and her single long scene (most of which was trimmed in the US version) with Thornton is one of the better dramatic ones. The only other interesting performance comes from Keays-Byrne as the photographer, but he – like the other supporting characters – is underused out of necessity to make them suspicious with very little basis.
Group 1 released the film domestically in 1981 as ONE MORE MINUTE (an important phrase used late in the film), before retitling it to THE DAY AFTER HALLOWEEN in order to cash in on the slasher cycle (the latter title appeared on Varese Sarabande’s LP of Brian May’s soundtrack); and it was under that title when the film was first released on VHS in 1983 by Catalina Home Video (who also distributed the Group 1 acquisitions AMUCK, ALLIGATOR, Lucio Fulci’s THE PSYCHIC, DR. TARR’S TORTURE DUNGEON, and MANSION OF THE DOOMED among many others). Presumably, that tape featured the same fuzzy, panned-and-scanned transfer that Magnum Entertainment released a couple years later in a big box under the title THE NIGHT AFTER HALLOWEEN (the onscreen title remained THE DAY AFTER HALLOWEEN, however). Before Scorpion’s DVD release, the film was released twice under its original title (once the rights reverted) by Platinum Disc Corporation in 2002 and then again as part of Elite Entertainment’s AUSSIE HORROR COLLECTION VOL. 2 in 2004. While no one could expect much of a Platinum Disc release (even though it was legitimately licensed from the Australian rights holder), Elite’s non-anamorphic, semi-cropped transfer was particularly disappointing after the beautiful 16:9 original aspect ratio transfers of THIRST and STRANGE BEHAVIOR released individually and together in Elite’s AUSSIE HORROR COLLECTION VOL. 1 (their transfer of PATRICK was non-anamorphic, but it was reissued by Synapse in 16:9) as well as the 16:9 transfer of DARK FORCES, another Simon Wincer/Anthony Ginnane Panavision horror pic from the same period. The Australians themselves offered no better with their two Region 4 DVDs from Magna Pacific and Umbrella Entertainment. Although anamorphically-enhanced, the Australian master was cropped to 1.74:1 from its original Panavision aspect ratio, interlaced, and generally fuzzy-looking. Presumably the BritFilms UK DVD release is the same master as the running time is identical to the Magna Pacific edition.
Scorpion’s new progressive, anamorphic transfer of film’s US cut (92:21) finally restores the film’s 2.35:1 framing (actually, it’s 2.45:1 here, but seldom looks distorted). The image is sharper and the colors bolder; most of the décor and costumes are somewhat drab, but reds and blues dotting the frame – more so in the disco scenes – are striking. The title on the print remains SNAPSHOT (despite the two US retitlings). The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is also in very good condition, and the score (and source music) are boldly rendered on the track. The longer “international version” is provided as an extra, and it is derived from the same old master as the imports. The image is substantially darker, softer, and is subject to constantly-annoying panning-and-scanning skating movements across the width of the image; the image is slightly cropped vertically and substantially cropped on the sides compared to the US cut’s transfer, suggesting that the older 16:9 master may actually be a 1.33:1 panned-and-scanned transfer slightly cropped and horizontally stretched to 16:9. The scope transfer of the US cut reveals for the first time that the ending credits on black are actually accompanied by a montage of photographs of Angela (this part of the image is cropped away and the ending credits re-centered on the panned-and-scanned transfers). The PAL-converted, interlaced transfer has not had its framerate adjusted, so the running time remains 100 minutes and some change like the import editions.
Viewers looking for more salacious or violent material in the international version will be sorely disappointed (other than one brief shot), but it is worth viewing at least twice: once to see how the original version flows, and another time to listen to the audio commentary by producer Anthony Ginanne (moderated by Katarina Leigh Waters) which is not available on the shorter cut. The difference between the two cuts on disc is roughly eight minutes, but it is actually closer to eleven or twelve minutes when the running time of the international cut is adjusted to 24fps playback. The missing footage is comprised of: 1) roughly a minute-and-a-half scene where Angela and Madeleine run into a Lily (TV comic actress Denise Drysdale) when they first arrive at Linsey’s studio, as well as Linsey setting up a “still death” shot before Angela and Madeleine enter the room; 2) the first half of the sequence in which Angela and Madeleine unwind at a disco, including most of the footage of an extremely annoying cabaret singer (approximately three minutes); 3) twenty second of Angela walking through Linsey’s dark studio in search of him; 4) nearly four minutes from the scene in which Angela finds her mother waiting for her in her loft room and argues with her (the scene is well-played but the short remainder of the scene pretty much reiterates everything they’ve already argued about); 5) a minute-and-a-half sequence starting with Angela waking up from a fiery nightmare and later telling her loftmates – who are watching PATRICK on TV – that she is going out; and lastly 6) a fifteen second scene in which a drunk Angela and Madeleine stumble in on two of Angela’s loftmates having sex (apart from Angela’s photo shoot and the several times the photos are shown, the film’s only other instance of nudity). It seems as if the drastic amount of trimming was done for the dual purposes of speeding up the film and shortening it by an entire reel. Some of this additional footage underlines some character aspects such as the clash of lifestyles between the communal loft residents and Angela’s concerns about privacy (given how her mother, sister, and ex-boyfriend have all constantly invaded her privacy and her growing fear that she is being stalked); however, one rarely feels like they are missing anything watching the shorter cut. I actually didn’t notice the additions when I first picked up the import disc after having owned the Magnum tape (although I had not watched that tape for a couple years and did not compare it when I got the disc, so disappointed was I when I saw the transfer).
Ginnane and Waters were already acquainted, by way of the commentary track on Scorpion’s disc of THE SURVIVOR so they both seem at ease here. Ginnane reveals that the film was mounted quickly following the success of PATRICK domestically and in international sales. The project began under the title CENTERFOLD, but the original script that Ginnane paid for proved problematic so he employed Everett De Roche – who had penned Richard Franklin’s PATRICK and several of Ginnane’s subsequent film along with Franklin’s non-Ginnane ROAD GAMES and LINK – to quickly write a similar thriller script about two women in the fashion business (De Roche and his wife Chris completed the script in under two weeks). Despite its shortcomings, it’s a favorite of Ginnane because it was shot in his hometown of Melbourne and shot with an entirely Australian cast (Ginnane did it intentionally as an experiment whereas he imported at least one known English or American actor to star in his other productions for international sales). Ginnane and Waters puzzle over the alternate titles, but Ginnane ultimately decides that Group 1 was smart to try to tie the film with the successful John Carpenter film (he suggests that the ONE MORE MINUTE title was a TV retitling but I think Group1 tried to exploit it as a classy thriller before trying the slasher angle). Ginnane also discusses the American redubbing of PATRICK and bringing suit against the makers of PATRICK VIVE ANCORA (although he is flattered in retrospect that the film was successful enough in Italy to merit imitation).
The only other extra is THE DAY AFTER HALLOWEEN “Alternate Title Card” (5:35) which is actually the entire opening sequence in its murky, cropped, panned-and-scanned (and later squeezed) form. Unfortunately, no theatrical trailers (Australian or American) are included here, although a nifty Australian one featuring excerpts from the Sherbet theme song is up on YouTube courtesy of Australian distributor Umbrella Entertainment. The US cut is viewable with optional “Katarina’s Nightmare Theater” wrap-around segments in which the hostess is terrorized by a Mr. Whippy truck in a splattery fashion seen nowhere in the film itself. Possibly due to the space constraints of two 90+ minute feature films on the same disc, there are no additional trailers for “Katarina’s Nightmare Theater” titles. (Eric Cotenas)
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