George (Scott Burgess) is an aspiring man about town in Australia who believes he can use his contacts to get ahead in the nightclub and "specialist entertainment" business. He struts down the red light district, greeting those he recognises, until he goes into the brothel he is ostensibly in charge of, or he would be if it were not for madam Frieda (Sandy Gore) who really runs things, and finds that one of the customers has a little more to prove than their usual clientele. After asking for the new girl Alex (Rosemary Paul), they retired to one of the rooms out back whereupon he made it clear sex was not on his mind, but torching the place was. Thus begins sheer hell for George...
The writer and director of Dead Easy, an eighties Ozploitation item, was Bert Deling, who had made a minor name for himself in Australian cinema the previous decade with his junkie road movie Pure Shit (catchy title), but since then pottered around his local industry without ever following on from his initial promise, despite a number of marketable ideas. This was his most prominent film after that, which earned some interest from foreign critics but otherwise back home was dismissed as yet another overambitious piece that could not make up its mind what it wanted to be: serious drama, lowlife comedy, even an all-out action flick once it reached its latter stages.
In addition, there was a "Will they/won't they?" romance that simmered along throughout the storyline between George and Alex, hampered by her being a touchy heroin addict and him being a bit of an idiot with ideas way above his station. They were alternately encouraged and menaced by the two sides of a gangster rivalry which had some vague connection to World War II (some of the gangsters were of Jewish refugee origin), but like far too much here, that went nowhere in particular, as indeed did the characters. Doubly so once this turned into a chase movie, of which there had been scenes early on, yet were fully embraced by Derling for his grand finale.
The trouble with all this was, it was both difficult to warm to anyone in the film, and actually work out their goals, as while there was plenty happening, it unfolded in a chaotic fashion that you had a hard time believing was intentional. This chucked in various bits of colourful side roads for George to travel down, such as his failed nightclub enterprise which ends abruptly when his dancers are assaulted on the dancefloor by what look like a gang of drug-crazed New Romantics who proceed to strip off and behave with wild abandon; this added a certain capricious tension, but did not do much for coherence - it was as if the director was tearing up pages of his script between scenes to concoct alternatives he was devising on the spot, uncaring whether they were true to anything he had got on celluloid beforehand.
This was Rosemary Paul's only film, though you couldn't call her a one-hit wonder for Dead Easy wasn't much of a hit, though it did pick up a small following of those who appreciated Derling's endeavours to match the exploitation movies coming out of the United States. That said, even taking into account the accents, he could not disguise his picture's origins, most blatantly because after just over an hour of not being able to make up his mind where he was going with all this, he had George and Alex team up with Officer Armstrong (Tim McKenzie) who had previously been hassling them (why? Who knows?). He happened to own a customised monster of a truck which came in handy when the proceedings went full Mad Max and crowbarred in a bunch of car chases and car crashes to liven things up, belatedly transforming this into an action extravaganza. It was one way to wrap things up, but tough to judge if it was the decision of a filmmaker in control of his material. Music by William Motzing.