|Directed by||Geoffrey Wright|
|Produced by||Ian Pringle
|Written by||Geoffrey Wright|
|Music by||John Clifford White|
|Editing by||Bill Murphy|
|Distributed by||Village Roadshow|
|Release dates|| 14 November 1992 (premiered at the Sydney Film Festival)
10 May 1993 (premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival)
16 September 1992 (premiered at the Toronto Film Festival)
|Running time||94 minutes|
|Box office||$3,340,374 (US/AUS)|
Romper Stomper is a 1992 Australian action drama film written and directed by Geoffrey Wright, starring Russell Crowe, Daniel Pollock, Jacqueline McKenzie and Tony Lee. The film follows the exploits and downfall of a neo-Nazi group in blue-collar suburban Melbourne.
A gang of violent neo-Nazis from Footscray, Victoria, Australia attack two Vietnamese Australian teenagers, who are friends of Tiger (Tony Lee) in a subway tunnel at Footscray Station (filmed at Richmond Station). The gang is led by Hando (Russell Crowe) and his friend and second in command, Davey (Daniel Pollock). They meet drug addict Gabrielle (Jacqueline McKenzie) the day after her sexually abusive, highly affluent father Martin (Alex Scott), has her junkie boyfriend beaten up. Gabrielle starts a romantic association with Hando.
Some of the gang's skinhead friends visit from Canberra, one of whom has joined the Royal Australian Navy and is home on leave. After a long night of drinking, fighting, and sex, two members of the gang go to their local pub. Unbeknownst to them the owner has sold it to a Vietnamese businessman. Upon seeing the new owner and his sons, they inform Hando. Hando and his gang arrive and savagely beat the new owner's sons. A third Vietnamese youth phones for help, Tiger (Tony Lee) and several armed Vietnamese men descend upon the skinheads. The Vietnamese outnumber the skinheads and a few skinheads are killed. The Vietnamese force them to retreat to their rented warehouse, where the Vietnamese ransack the building before setting it on fire.
The skinheads find a new base at a nearby warehouse, after evicting a pair of squatters, and plan their revenge against the Vietnamese. Learning that gang members plan to buy a gun, two female friends of the gang depart. Gabrielle suggests the gang burgle her father's mansion. They ransack the house, beat Martin up, smash one of his cars, and raid his wine collection. Gabrielle tells Martin the burglary is revenge for his years of abuse. Later, she reveals to Davey her plan to take Hando away from his violent life. Martin eventually frees himself and uses a handgun to scare away the gang before they can take any of his property. Davey begins to have doubts about his violent lifestyle.
Gabrielle criticizes Hando's handling of the robbery, and he abruptly dumps her. Davey announces his intention to leave at the same time, giving Gabrielle his German grandmother's address, where he will be staying. Gabrielle informs the police of the gang's location and then spends the night with Davey. Davey reveals his doubts about his violent lifestyle, having removed the racist patches from his flight jacket out of concern for his grandmother.
The police raid the warehouse while Hando is out. The youngest skinhead is shot dead after pointing a non-working gun at the police. The police arrest the rest of the gang. Hando watches from a distance and flees.
Arriving at Davey's flat, Hando finds his friend in bed with Gabrielle. Hando accuses her of informing the police, but Davey says they were together the whole time since leaving the squat. Hando convinces Davey to stick by him, and the trio go on the run. They rob a service station, and Hando strangles the Asian attendant to death. Driving all night, they stop at a beach. On the beach, Gabrielle overhears a conversation wherein Hando tries to convince Davey to leave her behind. Gabrielle then sets their car on fire. She admits to phoning the police. Hando attacks her, attempting to drown her in the surf. Davey stabs Hando in the neck with his Hitler Youth knife, killing him. Davey cradles a horrified Gabrielle on the beach watched by a busload of Japanese tourists, while Hando's bloody corpse gazes at the ocean.
- Russell Crowe as Hando
- Daniel Pollock as Davey
- Jacqueline McKenzie as Gabrielle
- Tony Lee as Tiger
- Alex Scott as Martin
- Leigh Russell as Sonny Jim
- Dan Wyllie as Cackles
- James McKenna as Bubs
- Eric Mueck as Champ
- Frank Magree as Brent
- Christopher McLean as Luke
Geoffrey Wright's script was inspired by the highly publicized crimes of leading Melbourne Neo-Nazi skinhead Dane Sweetman. Wright contacted Sweetman via mail in 1991, to request an interview. Sweetman was at that time in the process of serving a life sentence in Pentridge Prison for murder. The interview could not be arranged in a timely manner due to prison regulations, so the two men commenced correspondence, and Sweetman furnished Wright with a transcript of his murder trial, from which Wright drew influence. This influence is most clearly seen in the line delivered by Hando when scaring off squatters from the warehouse: "I'll chop your legs off". It is a direct reference to Sweetman's having cut off the legs of his victim.
That was one of many aspects of the film that mirrored Sweetman's life. For another example, the characters Gabrielle, Davey, and the punk girls were all based on associates of Sweetman. Sweetman's name was conspicuously absent in the end credits, however. This issue was raised in the Australian media during the publicity phase of promoting the film. Russell Crowe acknowledged the origin of his character during an interview on Tonight Live with Steve Vizard in 1992. Wright also spoke of the influence during a radio interview in the same year.
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The film's score was released by Picture This Records. It included the orchestral music and the energetic punk rock music similar to the Oi! genre (recorded by studio musicians). The orchestral arrangements were contributed by long-time big band leader Johnny Hawker, and were played by his band, after instructions by John Clifford-White that the score sound like Bernard Herrmann's film soundtracks. The rock tracks were played by a smaller (five-piece) guitar based band. Both ensembles used the same drummer (credited). It won an AFI award for best music score in 1992.
- "Romper Stomper Theme"
- "Pulling on the Boots"
- "Skinheads Go Shopping"/"Gabe Sees Swastika"
- "Mein Kampf"
- "Fuhrer Fuhrer"
- "Let's Break Some Fingers/Brawl Crawl"
- "Smack Song, The"
- "Tonguey for the Skins/Nightmare for the Hippies"
- "At the Mansion"
- "We Came to Wreck Everything"
- "Wild Animals 1"
- "Bubs Dead/Gabe Finds Davey"
- "Gabe and Davey"
- "Fourth Reich Fighting Men"
- "Night Drive"
- "On the Beach"
- "Wild Animals 2"
- "Fourth Reich Fighting Men (Reprise)"
- "The Dead Nazi March"
Box office and reception
The film was highly controversial because of its violent content. In March 2000, British prisoner Robert Stewart bludgeoned his cellmate, Zahid Mubarek, to death with a wooden table leg at the Feltham Young Offenders' Institution. In 2004, Stewart was found guilty of the racially motivated murder of Mubarek and was jailed for life. Stewart compared himself to Hando in Romper Stomper as well as Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange. An inquiry heard that Stewart had watched Romper Stomper two days before the killing. A member of the inquiry team said he was a prolific letter writer, and much of his correspondence contained racist and violent content: "He sees himself in the correspondence starring in the film Romper Stomper as a racist thug attacking gooks," the inquiry was told. The Anti-Nazi League protested the film's London premiere.
The novelization was written by Jocelyn Harewood and published by Text Publishing in 1993. It was published again as an e-book in November 2012. The book follows the film closely, but better acquaints the reader to get to know the characters, as Harewood develops their personalities and the events that have led to their various attitudes and behaviors.
- Eva Friedman, "Geoffrey Wright's Romper Stomper", Cinema Papers, January 1992 p6-11
- "FILM / Close to the knuckle: Romper Stomper, an Australian film about violent skinheads, has been condemned as likely to cause a breach of the peace. But will it really have audiences rolling in the aisles? Sheila Johnston investigates". The Independent (London). 19 February 1993. Retrieved 3 October 2010.
- Film Victoria - Australian Films at the Australian Box Office
- Romper Stomper at Rotten Tomatoes
- Holden, Stephen (9 June 1993). "Review/Film; Of Skinheads High on Hate And Violence". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 November 2010.
- Romper Stomper moved racist to kill The Age (Melbourne). 2004-11-21. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
- Romper Stomper at the Internet Movie Database
- Romper Stomper at Box Office Mojo
- Romper Stomper at Rotten Tomatoes
- Romper Stomper at the National Film and Sound Archive