by Glenn Erickson Apr 09, 2024

Pegged as a slasher-type horror, Simon Wincer’s drama hews closer to the emerging ‘artful’ trend in Australian filmmaking — with some of the bigger names associated with fancier exploitation fare, too: Everett De Roche, Brian May. Chantal Contouri gets top billing but the film is carried away by the magnetic Sigrid Thornton, who would later receive plenty of U.S. cable play in the ‘Man from Snowy River’ movies. Also making a solid impression is Hugh Keays-Byrne, in a role much different than the ones he played for George Miller. The disc includes a longer director’s cut.

Powerhouse Indicator
1979 / Color / 2:35 widescreen / 93/105 min. / The Day After Halloween / Street Date March 25, 2024 / Available from Powerhouse / $22.00
Starring: Chantal Contouri, Robert Bruning, Sigrid Thornton, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Denise Drysdale, Vincent Gil, Jon Sidney, Jacqui Gordon, Julia Blake.
Cinematography: Vincent Monton
Art Directors: John Dowling, Jill Eden
Film Editor: Philip Reid
Original Music: Brian May
Screenplay by Chris De Roche, Everett De Roche
Produced by Anthony Ginnane
Directed by
Simon Wincer

Sometime around 2008 or 2009, while promoting his Ozsploitation documentary Not Quite Hollywood, director Mark Hartley accompanied at least a dozen name Australian producers and directors to a Los Angeles film festival, and we saw them all together at a special ArcLight screening. In one evening we got a crash course in Australian cinema, from the vulgar to the sublime, from My Brilliant Career through Mad Max and all points between.

Powerhouse Indicator has just released a pair of good Australian genre thrillers on Blu-ray. Richard Franklin’s original Patrick became an international hit; it stars Susan Penhaligon and Robert Helpmann, and was actually remade by Mark Hartley about ten years ago. Less well known is the 1979 thriller Snapshot, which in America received a delayed release here under a shameless copycat title, The Day after Halloween. The two movies share a popular writer, Everett De Roche; Snapshot is interesting because it can’t quite make up its mind about its own identity.

Although they played in the art film circuit, we have to admit that we caught up with the ‘wave’ of Australian prestige filmmaking on the new cable TV channels, and also the Los Angeles industry-related “Z” Channel. The Australian movies had unfamiliar actors (Sam Neill, Bruno Lawrence, Judy Davis) but approached genres (horror, adventure, romance) in a pleasingly traditional way. Snapshot really isn’t gory enough to compete with ’70s horror pictures. It’s really a character study of a young woman’s introduction to the fast lane of modeling. It’s a bit like John Schlesinger’s Darling, with less glitz and more personal jeopardy. Its very interesting leading lady Sigrid Thornton would proceed to a still-ongoing career, mostly in popular Australian TV series.


Melbourne of the late 1970s now has a cosmopolitan feel and its own media industry. Young Angela Bailey (Sigrid Thornton) is trying to deal with an overbearing & repressive mother, keep her job as a hairdresser, and somehow have a personal life as well. Her entry into modeling is provided by the older, independent and somewhat daring fashion model Madeline (Chantal Contouri) — a nude modeling job for a fragrance. Frightened at first, Angela finds out that the shoot is real, the photographer professional and the pay potentially life-changing. Both Madeline and the name photographer Linsey (Hugh Keays-Byrne) believe that Angela’s career will catch fire when the glossy magazine ads are out. In the meantime she keeps late hours clubbing with Madeline and putting up with weird invitations from ad-related execs like modeling agency owner Elmer (Robert Bruning). His behaviour is strange but Madeline dismisses him as harmless.

Angela’s personal problems get worse, especially at home. Her envious, delinquent little sister tells their unforgiving mother (Julia Blake) that she’s living in sin, and Angela finds herself locked out of her own house. She moves into a casual living arrangement with other artists in the photographer’s studio. Mother has decided that Angela needs to stop avoiding Daryl, her ex (Vincent Gil of Mad Max). Daryl stalks Angela in his ice cream truck with a big “Mr. Whippy” logo. Angela’s only confidante is Madeline. The photographer Linsey has already creeped Angela out a bit, with his obsessive photographs of dead animals. Then a pig’s head turns up in Angela’s bed.


“Oh, darling, tits went out with Jayne Mansfield.”

Originally written with the title Centrefold, Snapshot is organized around a solid idea: by going for the $ big media $, Angela allows herself to be turned into a commodity. These are the disco years, and arrogant men young and old try to pick up Angela with tacky come-on lines. Linsey only sees her as a visual image. A wealthy ad man attends the windy wintry beach shoot (the setting is supposed to be tropical) just to see Angela topless. Meanwhile, Angela is bombarded by both Daryl’s unwanted advances and her mother’s religious tyranny. The only person seemingly not after a piece of Angela is her wild friend Madeline, in her red Mercedes. Madeline does have an agenda in mind, but it’s notthing Angela would expect. Just as it looks like Angela will advance to sought-after modeling status, the weird things around her turn genuinely threatening.

Until the climax, Angela seems mainly confused by her own sex attraction. At one point she feels a total fool for being talked into removing her top. Elsewhere the attitude toward nudity as a commodity is made very clear — there’s nothing at all unhealthy about Angela being photographed in the surf. The session is a lot of work for everyone. The curious, open-minded Angela is a trouper — she doesn’t object to the cold ocean water.


Indicator’s extra essays explain how Suspect came together as a stack of commercial compromises. Ms. Thornton was a last-minute hire, after another actress reportedly objected to the (very chaste) nude scenes. Director Simon Wincer was making a first theatrical film after extensive TV work — he went on to direct a number of well-known features as well as the very successful Lonesome Dove miniseries. The show has a fine visual polish; even the back alleys of Melbourne come off as attractive. The most dated aspect of the club scene is some of the music, and a stage performer who doesn’t add much to the show. His scenes were mostly cut for the film’s shorter theatrical cut.

For a long time Snapshot existed for horror fans as one provocative photo of Sigrid Thornton with her arms crossed. That put it on lists next to the (often) misogynistic Italian Giallos … the skin ‘n’ razors slasher trend that was already giving way to sleazy epics about zombies and cannibals. This movie prioritizes character and lifestyle details over woman-in-jeopardy content. The photo shoots and Lindey’s artistic noodling with proofs of Angela’s photos are convincing. We rather like the eccentric Linsey, even after we realize that Hugh Keays-Byrne’s claim to fame is as George Miller’s ferocious Toecutter and Immortan Joe.


Some Australian genre pictures can be very blunt about violence and sex, choosing whatever jokes work over sensitivity to the characters. Producer Antony Ginnane aims higher than some of his ribald comedies. Although Snapshot is still a genre piece that promises violence against a woman, director Wincer is allowed to take a high-road approach. The focus remains on the various ways others try to possess or control Angela.

Ms. Thornton gives her character more than enough credibility. It’s believable that a young woman from Angela’s repressed background would be swept away by the opportunity offered by the outspoken, self-assured Madeline. The story’s sidebar theme of lesbianism is also handled well. Angela is too green to recognize it when she sees it, but the issue is not presented as an evil to be punished, as in more than a few Italian Giallos.

The show must have disappointed audiences lured into theaters by the misleading title The Day After Halloween. The filmmakers begin with a flash-forward to a fiery conflagration. It stays on our minds for 90 minutes, until the storyline catches up to it. There are some creepy scenes in the body of the show, but nothing to classify it as belonging with Halloween or Friday the 13th. We are curious though — will Angela fall victim to the fire, or survive and continue with her career?  Snapshot is said to have disappointed its producers, but it is better than just ‘interesting,’ and we very much admire its main performances. Sigrid Thornton has depth — her Angela is vulnerable but not a fool, and we sympathize with her ordeal in Melbourne’s media Fast Lane.



This Blu-ray of Snapshot is a beautiful new 4K restoration of the theatrical cut commissioned by Powerhouse Films. Filmed in Panavision, the 93-minute show must have looked great on a big screen. I’m indifferent to some of the club music, but Brian May’s soundtrack music provides a classy audio surface. The producer mentions a rushed post-production period, but the show feels expensive.

Also present is an earlier, much longer version called The Extended director’s cut. At 105 minutes it’s a full reel longer than what audiences saw. An inessential stage performance is restored, but also a number of nicely detailed dialogue scenes. It’s easy to see what was excised, as the restored scenes cut to a lower quality, cropped video source. Still, we recommend the longer cut, as several character relationships benefit from the added material.

Several of the disc’s interviews and featurettes have been seen on earlier discs, and an entire gallery of interviews were conducted by Mark Hartley for his documentary. A full list is below and at the Indicator sales page. An alernate opening with the replacement title proves that, yes, the American distributor did have the nerve to rip-off Carpenter’s Halloween. If poring through three separate audio commentaries doesn’t appeal, the 80-page insert booklet has attractive photos, an excellent essay by Ian Barr and text interviews with producer Ginnane, director Wincer, screenwriter De Roche and even composer May.

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Blu-ray rates:
Movie: Very Good
Video: Excellent
Sound: Excellent
Audio commentary with director Simon Wincer, producer Antony I. Ginnane, actor Sigrid Thornton, and cinematographer Vincent Monton, moderated by Mark Hartley (theatrical cut, 2017)
Audio commentary with Ginnane and film critic and archivist Jaimie Leonarder (director’s cut, 2018)
Audio commentary with Ginnane and horror hostess Katarina Leigh Waters (director’s cut, 2012)
Featurette Producing Snapshot (2017, 28 mins): with Ginnane
Collected interviews from Mark Hartley’s Not Quite Hollywood with Thornton, Wincer, Ginnane, Monton, writer Everett De Roche, assistant director Tom Burstall, and actor Lynda Stoner (2008, 40 mins)
Archival audio interview with Simon Wincer (1979, 17 mins)
Partial audio commentary with stuntman Grant Page for a special effects fire sequence (2008, 2 mins)
Appreciation video The Trans-Pacific Mode by Stephen Morgan (2024, 10 mins)
Alternate opening titles for The Day After Halloween version
Original theatrical trailers
TV spots
Image galleries: promotional & behind the scenes
80- page illustrated booklet with an essay by Ian Barr, an extract from Antony I Ginnane’s unpublished memoirs, text interviews with director Wincer, screenwriter De Roche, and composer Brian May.
Deaf and Hearing-impaired Friendly? YES; Subtitles: English (feature only)
Packaging: One Blu-ray in Keep case
April 6, 2024

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About Glenn Erickson

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Glenn Erickson left a small town for UCLA film school, where his spooky student movie about a haunted window landed him a job on the CLOSE ENCOUNTERS effects crew. He’s a writer and a film editor experienced in features, TV commercials, Cannon movie trailers, special montages and disc docus. But he’s most proud of finding the lost ending for a famous film noir, that few people knew was missing. Glenn is grateful for Trailers From Hell’s generous offer of a guest reviewing haven for CineSavant.

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“Indicator’s extra essays explain how Suspect came together”


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