The Gang show relives the past

JAMES CROOT
Last updated 12:06 28/08/2014
Tanya Horo

COROMANDEL GOLD: Tanya Horo plays a peace-loving hippie mother forced to make a stand in the film The Z-Nail Gang, a New Zealand-made comedy film being released on July 31.

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THE Z-NAIL GANG (M)
Directed by Anton Steel

Te Maunga residents may have been sitting on a goldmine. At least that's what multi-national mining corporation Golia Minerals believe.

They're keen to start exploiting the environment but first they need buy in from the community. The local MP is on board, while others are more than happy to give up a piece of their land for a slice of the action.

But there are those who believe that selling out to Golia will result in an environmental mess - a toxic wasteland on their front-doorstep. 

Dismissed by Golia officials and the government as ''muesli munching eco nuts'', this core group of residents nonetheless plan on stopping the mining plan by any means necessary.

Inspired by true stories from the Coromandel anti-mining movement in the 1980s, The Z-Nail Gang is an amiable community created comedy.

Shot in Te Puke and made for an estimated $30,000 there's an unsurprising amateur feeling to proceedings - the acting is variable (with Sunny Skies' Errol Shand a notable standout) and the characters and comedy broad. 

And yet the production boasts a professional sheen, with some clever use of editing techniques and a toe-tapping soundtrack that possesses both phat beats and cruisy tunes.

Perhaps that unsurprising given that writer-director Anton Steel has previously worked as an assistant director on the likes of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Bridge to Terebithia. 

That might also explain why rather than the Came a Hot Friday or Goodbye Pork Pie the creators were aiming for, this reminds me more of the kidult adventures New Zealand used to excel at making in the 1970s and 80s. 

Yes, with its bent coppers, evil executives, hapless henchman, toilet humour and naive tourists The Z-Nail Gang could be seen as a homage to The Mad Dog Gang. No bad thing, but perhaps more at home on a small screen rather than a large one.

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