Barry Mackenzie Holds His Own
Relax - I know it sounds like the title of some dodgy early 70s sex comedy
(Can You Keep It Up For A Week springs to mind - dunno why), but
Barry Mackenzie is a very different kettle of kangaroos indeed.
Elbowing its way onto this site because of the inclusion of a vampire
baddie (played by Brit horror stalwart Donald Pleasance), Barry Mackenzie
is actually an enjoyable knock-about comedy which paved the way for all
those "gross out" films we've been subjected to in the past
Puking, getting pissed and shagging Sheilas are the orders of the day
(mainly, it has to be said, getting pissed) - yes, it's a film about our
Antipodean cousins. And if you want any further recommendations of its
horror credentials, then react in terror to this - you get to find out
exactly why Edna Everage is a Dame.
Leave your brain in neutral, because you won't get much enjoyment from
Barry Mackenzie if you're looking for sub-plots. It's definitely
a film watched in the "Think Australian, Drink Australian" frame
of mind. And speaking of the amber nectar, it's also an hour-and-a-half
long advert for Fosters.
The film opens with the Australian Minister For Culture, Senator Douglas
Mason, giving a piece to camera about the "Australian cultural renaissance".
"The film you're about to see makes me proud to be an Australian,"
he says, a poster of a huge can of Fosters filling the wall behind him.
Our hero, the perpetually puzzled Barry, is travelling to France with
his aunt Edna (via Frogair - yes, that's about the level of the comedy
here) when she's spotted by a couple of shady foreign types who think
she's the Queen. They report back to their boss, Count Plasma (Pleasance),
the ruler of Transylvania - who reckons a royal visit is just what his
country needs to revive their flagging tourist trade. He orders them to
kidnap her - "but if you harm so much as a hair of her legs, you
will suffer the consequences!" he orders, mugging like mad. Well,
that's the plot over with, let's get on with the jokes.
In Paris, Barry meets up with a whole load of his mates from the old country
(anyone who's ever met an Australian will know this is exactly what always
happens), and the amount of cans he's carrying on his person causes the
metal detector at the airport to explode. The French police immediately
take action and machine gun the offending articles in slow motion ("poor
Later, on the Eiffel Tower, Barry "cries Ruth" over the edge
after eating some poisoned food, and scores a direct hit on his aunt's
would-be kidnappers. He then attempts to rescue a "clean living Australian
lass" from her job at a strip club, and narrowly avoids getting blown
up. He also refuses to have sex with a topless prostitute, over fears
that his nose might fall off (Barry has already confided in his doc that
he has a "romantic problem", but he's also convinced that sex
with anyone less than pure will result in the loss of this particular
part of his anatomy).
The group then go to a lecture entitled "Christ And The Orgasm",
where we meet Barry's twin brother, Kevin - a priest who's giving one
of the talks. Kevin is slightly more high brow than his brother ("I'll
see-est thou drongos later"), but his similarity to Barry (they're
both played by Barry Crocker) leads to him being attacked by the kidnappers,
with Barry having to fill in (cue fantastically entertaining song about
Finally, the kidnappers succeed and take Aunt Edna to London, with Barry
in hot pursuit (after pausing for a big punch-up with his brother). Of
course, with Barry being Australian and us Brits being a bit uptight,
he has to be smuggled back into the UK as an illegal immigrant along with
a bunch of Indians.
"I'm studying Kant," says an obviously educated immigrant girl.
"So am I," replies Barry, "but I keep failing the practical."
(think about it
However, Barry gets caught and ends up in prison ("Let me outta here,
you ungrateful Pommie bastards!" he shouts after giving them a lecture
on how Aussies helped win World War II), but is helped to escape by the
ghost of his great, great uncle.
Barry discovers that Aunt Edna has been spirited away to Transylvania,
and assembles a crack troop of his mates (with the old "Anzac spirit")
to help get her back, and so we head towards the predictably stupid ending.
You have to look pretty hard for the horror in Barry Mackenzie,
but it is there (luckily, the film is hugely entertaining from start to
finish so it's worth watching anyway). Plasma's butler has a tap in his
neck (just like in Vault Of Horror), there's
an incredibly strange segment where a film is shown featuring swimmers
being attacked by flesh-eating octopi, and the end has plenty of stakings
and an enormous machine which sucks all the blood out of a body (a scruffy-looking
Clive James - yes, the Clive James - is plugged into it and produces
nothing but lager).
It may be right on the fringes of what constitutes a horror film, but
Barry Mackenzie Holds His Own is well worth tracking down. Who
would have thought that the simple act of opening a can of lager could
be so funny?