Romper Stomper

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Romper Stomper
RomperStomper.jpg
Directed by Geoffrey Wright
Produced by Ian Pringle
Daniel Scharf
Written by Geoffrey Wright
Starring Russell Crowe
Daniel Pollock
Jacqueline McKenzie
Tony Lee
Music by John Clifford White
Cinematography Ron Hagen
Edited by Bill Murphy
Production
company
Distributed by Village Roadshow
Release dates
Running time 94 minutes
Country Australia
Language English
Budget A$1.6 million[1]
Box office $3,340,374 (US/AUS)

Romper Stomper is a 1992 Australian crime 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.

Plot[edit]

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 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. Davey cradles a horrified Gabrielle on the beach watched by a busload of Japanese tourists, while Hando gazes at the ocean as he bleeds to death.

Cast[edit]

Origin[edit]

Geoffrey Wright's script was inspired by the highly publicised crimes of leading Melbourne Neo-Nazi skinhead Dane Sweetman.[2] 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.[citation needed]

The film was financed from the Australian Film Commission with Film Victoria.[1]

Soundtrack[edit]

Romper Stomper
Soundtrack album by John Clifford White and the Romper Stomper Orchestra & Band
Released 30 November 1992
Recorded 1991-1992, Metropolis Studios
Genre Film score, Rock Against Communism
Length 34:33
Label Picture This

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).

White Power labels have bootlegged the RAC tracks and released them on a 7" many times since the soundtrack's release. In 2011, a Russian WP label released the whole soundtrack on a 12". The RAC songs are often misattributed to real RAC bands on peer to peer sites, with Skrewdriver being used often. The band is also often called "Master Race" due to Peter Pales's German-language monologue in the beginning of "Pulling On the Boots". Some people have also considered the Australian punk band the Bastard Squad to have done the soundtrack, due to the line "Jason from the Bastard Squad" being in the thank you section at the movie's end credits. The actual versions of the RAC songs used in the film are earlier versions to what ended up on the commercial CD - most obvious being "Fuhrer Fuhrer", which plays in the scene after Hando is notified about Vietnamese being at the Railway Hotel - Clifford-White's intonation is slightly different and there are no backing vocals in the chorus.

  1. "Prologue"
  2. "Romper Stomper Theme"
  3. "Pulling on the Boots"
  4. "Skinheads Go Shopping"/"Gabe Sees Swastika"
  5. "Mein Kampf"
  6. "Fuhrer Fuhrer"
  7. "Let's Break Some Fingers/Brawl Crawl"
  8. "Smack Song, The"
  9. "Tonguey for the Skins/Nightmare for the Hippies"
  10. "At the Mansion"
  11. "We Came to Wreck Everything"
  12. "Wild Animals 1"
  13. "Bubs Dead/Gabe Finds Davey"
  14. "Gabe and Davey"
  15. "Fourth Reich Fighting Men"
  16. "Night Drive"
  17. "On the Beach"
  18. "Wild Animals 2"
  19. "Fourth Reich Fighting Men (Reprise)"
  20. "The Dead Nazi March"

Crew[edit]

  • John Clifford White - vocals
  • John Hewett - guitar
  • Chris Pettifer - bass
  • Phillip Beard - drums
  • Peter Pales - German vocals on "Pulling On the Boots"
  • John Hawker - conductor
  • Produced by Doug Brady
  • All songs composed and written by John Clifford White

Awards[edit]

The film was nominated for nine Australian Film Institute Awards. It won Best Achievement in Sound, Best Actor in a Lead Role and Best Original Music Score.

Box office and reception[edit]

Romper Stomper grossed $3,165,034 at the box office in Australia.[3] The film was well received by critics, with an approval rating of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.[4]

Controversy[edit]

The film was highly controversial because of its violent content.[5] 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.[6]

Book[edit]

The novelisation was written by Jocelyn Harewood and published by Text Publishing in 1993. It was published again as an e-book in November 2012.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]