Death Cheaters (1976)- * * *
Directed by: Brian Trenchard Smith
Starring: Grant Page, John Hargreaves, Margaret Gerard, and Noel Ferrier
Rodney Cann (Page) and Steve Hall (Hargreaves) are friends and the top two stuntmen in the Australian film industry. They're so good at what they do that they're recruited by Culpepper (Ferrier), a member of the government, to go on a mission for their country. Along with Steve's wife Julia (Gerard), they reluctantly accept the assignment, and they put all their skills with blowing stuff up, climbing, falling, and being hit by cars to good use. At least that's what everyone hopes will happen. Will Rodney and Steve cheat death one more time?
Death Cheaters is just pure fun from beginning to end. It has a lot of Australian charm and a winning 70's atmosphere. As we've been saying for years, Grant Page is a national treasure, and both he and the movie itself are very likable.
Brian Trenchard-Smith, who is the original BTS, brings a lot of humor and a lighthearted tone to the film. As much as we enjoyed it overall, perhaps it didn't need to be 96 minutes. But Trenchard-Smith was getting so much great footage of Page and Hargreaves, it was probably hard to cut down any of it. In fact, the death-defying (or should we say death-cheating) stuff being done was likely deemed to be so good, much of it was later interpolated into another winner of a film, Stunt Rock (1978). No wonder he wanted to use it again in a film more people would see.
Death Cheaters is a good vehicle for the seemingly-fearless Grant Page and his fellow stuntpeople, and with this film, he can show audiences a different side to his talent, instead of being an "anonymous" stuntman. He can act in a role that's likely fairly close to himself in some ways.
Death Cheaters was released in the U.S. on the Vestron label, and it was surely most Americans' introduction to Grant Page and Brian Trenchard-Smith. Then we were introduced to the companion piece, Stunt Rock, and a love affair was born.
So, for an enjoyable slice of pure Australian stuntery, look no further than Death Cheaters.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty