In director Garth Maxwell’s 1993 gothic horror twins Jack and Dora (late US actor Alexis Arquette and Kiwi Sarah Smuts-Kennedy) are separated while young; their adult reunion sees them battling the trauma of their past while being pursued by Jack’s sadistic step sisters. Complete with ESP, and a steam-driven hypnosis machine, Maxwell makes an exuberant and surreal contribution to the cinema of unease. New York Times’ Stephen Holden lauded the heady head-spinner as “a superior genre film” with a “feverish intensity that recalls scenes from Hitchcock and De Palma.”
A young woman in colonial New Zealand (played by Jodie Foster, post-Taxi Driver pre-Oscars) flees an orphanage to find herself trapped in an arranged marriage to an older businessman (fellow US actor John Lithgow). Voyeurism, hypnotism and dodgy doctoring feature in the thriller from US director Michael Laughlin, from a screenplay by Jerzy Skolimowski. Mesmerized was made in NZ as an international co-production with RKO during the 80s tax break era. It was released in the US as My Letter to George in 1986. Laughlin also shot cult horror Dead Kids (1981) in NZ.
Years before it became a national health crisis, star UK broadcaster David Frost hosted this audience discussion on NZ’s “battle of the bulge”. And far from his later interrogation of Nixon, Frost’s form here is loose and relaxed. Analysis makes way for his wry examinations of such du jour weight-loss products as portable saunas, laxative pills, “Easy-Slim” underwear, and the Slendermatic: a muscle vibration unit modelled by a bikini-clad lass reclining on a sheepskin rug. This was one of six Frost Over New Zealand specials filmed over a whirlwind four-day shoot.
British-born Malcolm Hall moved from newspaper journalism into television, after emigrating downunder. Since then his career as a producer and director has seen him helming current affairs, comedy, children's TV, and varied documentaries which have screened around the globe. At the turn of the millennium, Hall began making television for company NHNZ.