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Posts Tagged ‘Stone’

grave_diggersThe term refers to Australia films of a particular genre that were released during home-grown tax advantage days for film producers.

In looking at films during this era I ran across Stone which was made about the same time, but is not an ocker and is much different from other biker movies.  It contradicted the Hollywood biker films of the day and was more of a “thinking man’s” motorcycle club movie that dived into biker values.  The time was 1974 and the film reflected on the disillusionment that ex-servicemen felt after Australia’s earlier withdrawal from Vietnam.

The Australian motorcycle club was called the Grave Diggers.  All members of the club were returning soldiers, either from the Vietnam War or the earlier Korean conflict.  The patch of the club was a skull wearing the hat that made Australian troops famous in both World Wars, the slouch hat.  The patch was first used as an advertising icon for the film, but has since become the patch of the Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club in Australia and supposedly is the only patch that can be worn across other motorcycle (outlaw) clubs territories without an issue.

The movie was written and directed by Sandy Harbutt, and starts out with the posse cruising by an open-air speech from a politician on environmental issues. They stop to heckle him and a member (Toad), high on illicit drugs, wanders off and climbs onto the roof of the city hall. There he becomes witness to a sniper’s fatal shot of the politician. Over the coming days, several members of the motorcycle club are killed by an unknown assailant, seemingly in an attempt to kill off anyone who might have seen the assassin. A policeman, Stone, is sent in with the intention of posing as a member of the group to try and find out who is behind the killings.  Yeah, it’s farfetched and a typical cinema story. Luckily YouTube has a trailer posted.

Using the biker community, Harbutt was able to assemble large casts of extra bikers which were used in several scenes, most notably the opening burial procession and the fighting sequences. The locations were actual biker hangouts and there are no set shots, giving the film an authentic atmosphere.  The Grave Diggers rode four-cylinder Kawasaki KZ 900’s.  Clearly high speed races around the streets of Sydney mark Stone as a different movie than the typical Harley-based choppers of Hollywood ilk (Devil’s Angels (1967); Hells Angels on Wheels (1967); Easy Rider (1969)).  Stone’s ride was a Norton Commando twin and Harbutt provided some unique angles on-board and behind the various bikes.

Stone is a great example of Australian filmmaking and a biker movie which has achieved cult film status.  If you’ve not seen the movie I suggest you grab a copy and/or see the documentary Stone Forever (1999).  The documentary provides a good background and recreates the funeral run with an estimated 30,000 motorcyclists.

Photo source courtesy of Sandy Harbutt.

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