If you’re familiar with Australian cinema, you’d be aware of the Ozploitation movement that peaked in the late 70s and 80s, and that director Quentin Tarantino projected these movies back into the limelight in the early 2000s by declaring his love for the subgenre. 

Embedded right in this timeframe that projected a mix of sexploitation, bikers, horror and action upfront and in your face comes the 1983 feature Hostage based on the true story of Christine Maresch, who is forced to endure a life of crime under the dominant hand of her husband Walter – a man that embodies narcissism.

Watching this film now, it lends itself easily to the #metoo movement as Christine is subjected to rape and torture in a land foreign to her own when she follows her husband and daughter to Germany in order to make an honest go in life.

When we first meet Christine, she’s a happy-go-lucky, larger than life character, who is working at the circus, where she feels free and in her element. Here she meets the dark and mysterious Walter and falls for his rugged yet caring nature, only to discover that he holds a sadistic side with pursuits in Neo-Nazi activities. This itself can feel a little obvious by today’s standards, but the brutality of his treatment is still hard to bear and we long for Christine to find a way out of her turmoil, which goes steadily from bad to worse.

The hardest hitting moment comes when she ends up in Istanbul and receives a tumultuous confrontation with some unsavoury characters at a petrol station. The scene is edgy, sharp, and filled with vitriol that was synonymous with the Ozploitation scene, but its Walters ill treatment of Christine that is the most uncomfortable to watch and is more relevant today than ever.

The film is peppered with some upbeat sounds from composer Davood A. Tabrizi, who manages to tweak every ounce of action and thrills into his score, casting the film forwards with some much needed pace at times.

The Prognosis:

Hostage is a film that is indicative of its time but despite its place and setting has enough fuel and fire to ignite a still unsettling scenario that resonates with the viewer.
Its character is the major selling point and its two leads in Kerry Mack and Ralph Schicha do enough to engage the audience beyond the ‘based on a real story’ setting.

One for the Ozploitation enthusiasts but I highly recommend this to anyone with and interest in Australian cinema.

  • Saul Muerte

Hostage is available to view now via Video On Demand