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Loud-mouthed, uncouth Barry McKenzie (Barry Crocker) is returning to Australia via Paris from his London holiday with his Aunty Edna Everage (Barry Humphries). When Aunty Edna is mistaken for the Queen of England, she is kidnapped by foreign communist agents and transported to Transylvania. It is there that Transylvania's Tourist Commissioner, Erich Count Plasma (Donald Pleasence), plans to boost the national economy by offering "The Queen" as a major attraction. With his mates by his side, Barry enlists the help of Australian ambassador Sir Alec Ferguson (Ed Deveraux) and a daring rescue mission is launched.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
It seems impossible to believe now, but in 1971 the Australian Film Development Corporation (the AFC's predecessor) provided full production funding for The Adventures of Barry McKenzie. The film's massive success ensured that this visionary Government agency actually turned a profit for the year. Strewth! A sequel was inevitable and this time it was TV entrepreneur and former quizmaster Reg Grundy whose company doubled the original's budget and produced Barry McKenzie Holds His Own for just under half a million dollars.

The film itself - an elusive item rarely screened and never previously available on home video - doesn't quite deliver the non-stop laughs of its classic predecessor but it still has many politically incorrect highlights and includes the mind-boggling sight of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam welcoming Bazza home and making Edna Everage a Dame in the final scene. Come on John Howard, how about showing your patriotism with guest spot in Welcome To Woop Woop 2? As a politician /actor, Gough performs much better here than Sirs John Gorton and Charles Court did in their cameos in 1969's The Nickel Queen. There's also the sight of Clive James slugging down tubes of Fosters in the background of almost every shot, Rocky Horror star Little Nell and legendary British sexpot Fiona Richmond romping half naked together and a parade of veteran British comics contributing bemused guest appearances (take a look at John Le Mesurier's face when he appears!).

This one may lack consistency but as a record of cultural cringe at its most extreme, Bazza Holds His Own is a film you simply have to see and who wouldn't want to sing along with the McKenzie classic Stick Your Head Up A Dead Bear's Bum? Whether or not this museum piece makes you laugh doesn't really matter when you consider the bonus features on this disc. The Tony Ward-hosted 1974 documentary Barry McKenzie: Ogre or Ocker? is the treat no collector or even casual observer of Australian film can do without. It's almost 30 years since this black and white essay on the cultural impact of Bazza and the gang has been seen and its absolutely priceless. Coverage of the opening night at Sydney's long-gone Ascot Theatre and interviews with Humphries, Crocker and Edna provide a fascinating and frequently hilarious picture of how we looked at ourselves way back then. One of the many highlights is Sydney critic Ron Saw's condemnation of the film as "a third or fourth -rate nasty little movie", adding that Humphries has "done nothing with the (Edna) character (who is) a mating of Danny La Rue and Tiny Tim". The disc price is worth it just for this feature.

But wait, there's plenty more, with Barry Crocker's anecdote-rich narration and a terrific 2003-recorded interview with Barry Humphries adding to a marvellous package. Humphries is supreme, triumphant and gloriously unrepentant as he discusses the comic book origins of the McKenzie character (originally called Buster Thompson) and how the word "chunder" made it into the Oxford dictionary.

He also relates a wonderful tale about a third McKenzie movie being discussed in the early 80s and how his plot outline turned up in a certain box-office smash starring Paul Hogan. Half an hour of incredibly rare behind-the-scenes footage and half a dozen hilarious TV teaser spots complete a must-have package that is beautifully presented in every detail. The print transfer looks beaut in widescreen "Chunderama" and the glorious dual mono soundtrack means you don't need any pooffy multi-speaker setup to hear what's going on. Next time you're preparing some devils on horseback and chicken maryland from a Margaret Fulton cookbook, you could do worse than warm the set and down a few tubes with this little number afterwards. It's a ripper and a glorious reminder of our wonderfully vulgar ways. Absolutely essential viewing.

Published in chunderspace on July 17, 2003

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BARRY McKENZIE HOLDS HIS OWN: DVD (Collector's Edition) (M)
(Aus) - 1974

CAST: Barry Crocker, Barry Humphries, Ed Deveraux, Dick Bentley, Roy Kinnear, Donald Pleasence, Tommy Trinder, Clive James, The Rt Hon E.G. Whitlam, Margaret Whitlam.

DIRECTOR: Bruce Beresford

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes

PRESENTATION: ASPECT RATIO: 2.35:1 (Chunderama); AUDIO: Dolby Digital Dual Mono

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary with Barry Crocker, 2003 Interview with Barry Humphries (25min), Behind the Scenes Footage (33min), Trailers, Teaser Spots, 1974 Documentary "Barry McKenzie: Ogre or Ocker?" (50 min) Language: English. Subtitles: Selected scenes contain "Bazzaism" subtitles

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella Entertainment / The AV Channel

DVD RELEASE: June 18, 2003

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