A fire most foul and a father more foul
A DANGEROUS SUMMER
Howard Anderson is a passionate and committed american architect, set on building his dream 10 million-dollar resort out in fire country, the Blue Mountains. When a supposed arsonist appears to hold a grudge against him, his dream and even his daughter, Howard must give it his all to stop the crazed figure and uncover an even deeper plot that stands before him.
I personally had never heard of A Dangerous Summer (released in a more popular title in America as Flash Fire) before Umbrella Entertainment decided to give it the HD 1080p Blu-Ray treatment, and considering it walks the thin tightrope of the term 'Ozploitation', I can certainly see why. In the common 80's trend of Australian movies gearing towards catering to the american masses via casting relatively big name Hollywood stars, Tom Skeritt leads the charge as main character / protagonist Howard Anderson. And though his performance and even the film itself may not stand head to head with the likes of other Skeritt related films such as Alien (1979), Top Gun (1986) and even Poison Ivy (1992), there is still a good amount of ambition, vision and just straight up balls in this movie.
Lets start with the blatantly obvious main strength of this film, that being the visuals and cinematography. The breathtaking and at some points haunting shots of fire and flame are what carries this movie into something unique and appreciative when comparing it to the time it was released. It goes without saying that the Australian cinematographer Peter Hannan shot this movie with an extreme amount of tensity and creativity in mind. I can imagine shooting around fire with highly flammable film and equipment is already incredibly dangerous and stressful enough, but for it to look this breathtaking is on a whole other level of art. Panning chopper shots, a warm sundown feel throughout it all, and the occasional silhouette figure surrounded by diagetic flame lighting is genuinely enough for you to watch this film again, especially in such an impressive restoration.
The somewhat simple, synthesized, mellow soundtrack is also relatively enjoyable, though I left myself asking for more as it refuses to be present enough in scenes that would feel much more elevated and cinematic with it. There honestly may not have been a sizable amount for umbrella to even add a CD to the blu-ray pack in the first place, though I would love to own it regardless if it is out there.
Though there honestly isn't a whole lost for Tom Skeritt to steal in this movie, he steals whatever he can (figuratively). He can be incredibly dynamic in expressions and emotion when he needs to be as a daughter loving single father with an attitude. The remaining cast all do their best, but the standout is clearly Skeritt.
However, with A Dangerous Summer's surprising positives, comes some negatives...
The film can drag, and I mean drag. A good amount of filler and practically unneeded scenes are sprinkled throughout the plot, whether its repeating information already given to the audience, or overly long silent shots of Skeritt hanging out and getting a little too comfortable with his Daughter. It genuinely took 20 minutes for me to realise that it was in fact his daughter and not his wife with how touchy-feely he is with her.
In regards to the actual disc itself, Umbrella Entertainment as usual, give it their all, no matter the film and no matter its popularity! Video is at 1080p HD, and this film almost doesn't deserve to look this crisp and beautiful (that's a joke). Audio is at a humble 2.0 DTS-HD and it sounds great, well mixed, and the crackling of fire is a highlight to the ears. Special Features are flourishing, but I'll get into that later, and in terms of packaging, the Blu-Ray (as of writing this review) comes with a high quality, semi-gloss slipcover, and as a little bonus, some art cards that I still don't know what to do with. Always happy that Umbrella put in the extra effort with their packaging and no one does it better in Australia.
In summary, A Dangerous Summer was a surprising, well-made quote on quote 'ozploitation' sleeper, without the hit. A slow burning (pun intended) drama/thriller lifted up by it's american cast and slightly lowered by its story and plot. I know I'll be watching it again, and with the extensive amount of extras packed onto the umbrella disc as extra supplements, I know I'll be busy.
Directed by: Quentin Masters
Starring: Tom Skerritt, Ian Gilmour, Giselle Morgan, James Mason, Wendy Hughes, Kim Deacon, Ray Barrett
1982 / 90 min / 16:9 / 2.0 DTS-HD MA
No. of discs: 1
Subtitles: English HOH
Release Date: 07 Sep 2022
- NEW! Audio essay on filmmaker Quentin Masters by author and film historian David Del Valle
- NEW! Interview with co-writer/director Quentin Masters
- NEW! THAT DANGEROUS SUMMER (1980) – a dramatized documentary produced by Jim McElroy and directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith.
- NEW! FILMCO trailer reel.
- NEW! The VHS experience.
- DANGEROUS SUMMER REKINDLED – 2006 interview featurette with cast members Wendy Hughes and Kim Deacon.
- Stills and poster gallery
- Original theatrical trailer
Umbrella Entertainment come out guns blazing with quite easily the definitive release for this film. Packing it with an abundance of new material to really sink your teeth into. David Del Valle's Audio Essay on director Quentin Masters and his career gives a brief look into the filmmaker and his small but robust filmography. Masters is also interviewed in a newly recorded feature in regards to A Dangerous Summer and discusses the film in a deeper and more over-viewing light. 'That Dangerous Summer (1980)' a newly released documentary dramatizing the film directed by Ozploitation auteur Brian Trenchard Smith excels in the being the best and more interesting special feature. 'A Dangerous Summer Rekindled' is the icing on the cake with a surprising featurette with Wendy Hughes and Kim Deacon, both shockingly still very much reminiscent of the film and small stories and details around it. Wait there's more?! Yes! a great little compilation FilmCo. trailer reel, the VHS experience, stills and poster gallery AND an original theatrical trailer tie things up nicely as without a doubt quite an impressive release from the fine folks over at Umbrella Entertainment.
UMBRELLA ENTERTAINMENT ADDITIONAL DETAILS
As was the trend for Ozploitation movies in the 80's, A Dangerous Summer features some international talent in none other than Tom Skeritt, hot off the back of his role in Alien (1979).
A Dangerous Summer didn't quite make waves in its home country of Australia, but Americans really took to the movie under the name Flash Fire.
Hollywood heavyweights JAMES MASON and TOM SKERITT star in this gripping Ozploitation gem about Howard Anderson, an American architect, battling a deranged arsonist to save his million-dollar resort in the picturesque Blue Mountains. As temperatures soar and bushland is decimated, Anderson races to save his property – and also his daughter’s life – from a madman whose crime has escalated from arson to murder. Packed with action, intrigue and one Ozploitation cinema’s most iconic set-pieces (WENDY HUGHES dragged underwater by an unseen assailant at Bondi beach) A DANGEROUS SUMMER is a homegrown thriller that is as fast and explosive as a raging runaway bushfire!
You can order the Blu-Ray via the link below;
Reviewed and edited by Joel Brady