Australia seems like such a friendly country and it reminds me of Canada in so many ways. Both were British colonies, both have long stretches of barren landscape in between cities and both have funny accents according to Americans, eh. However, behind those smiling eyes like Canada, Australia has a darker side and have been producing a number of great horror movies over the years, which I've been trying catching up on lately. Recent titles like The Loved Ones, the Horseman and The Pit have me looking back at Ozploitation films for more Aussie scream and gore flicks.
Here are 5 Horror Movies From Down Under:
5. Long Weekend (1978) - Peter and Marcia are city folk, who want to take a camping trip to fix their broken marriage. On the way there, Peter runs over a kangaroo but that doesn't stop this wilderness buff from getting to the great outdoors. However, Peter doesn't seem to know where he's going and after asking for directions at a gas station, he realizes nobody's heard of this place but this won't stop him, he gets back in his jeep and drives them into the wilderness, only to be lost. Marcia starts complaining about how she would rather be at a hotel, but he ignores her pleas and tells her that they'll sleep in the jeep and when it's light, they'll find the beach. When Marcia wakes up, she is surprised to find that Peter was right. The camp is set up and there is a gorgeous beach straight ahead. They head down to the beach, Peter is drinking, throwing bottles into the ocean and shooting at them. They're both littering and making a mess of the great outdoors. The animals take notice of this disrespect of their home and decide to take their revenge on these city folks! This was ok, it had some interesting elements to it. There was a scene where an eagle attacks someone, which was pretty insane and I've never seen that before. The environmental overtone is consistent throughout the film but it didn't really get scary until the very end. The couples hot/cold relationship gets a little tiresome and sometimes, you really wish they would just go home. Not a lot of blood but again it does vamp up at the end. Only wish there was more tension in the film. It's worth a watch
4. Razorback (1984) - Jake Cullen is spending some bonding time with his grandson, when he hears the thunderous hooves of something outside. He goes out to have a look when an enormous Razorback pig barrels through his home and snatches his grandson away. When he goes to the police nobody believes him and he is put on trial for murdering the baby. Fortunately, the judge doesn't have any proof that he did it, so he is let go but Jake Cullen is still guilty in the eyes of the town. Flash forward 2 years later, journalist and animal rights activist, Beth Winters gives her husband a kiss goodbye and heads to the outback to do a story on hunting in the Australian Outback. However, the local don't care for a snooping reporter watching them and on a late night excursion to a meat processing plant, she is attack by two deranged employees, Benny and Dicko Baker. She drives away but they ram her off the road and when they finally catch her, a strange rumbling of hooves is felt and something rams the Baker's car. They scurry into the vehicle and get away, leaving Beth Winters to fend for herself but she isn't so lucky and is never seen again. Sooooooo, Beth's husband Carl flies down to get to the bottom of this but when he gets there, he's told by the locals that she fell down a mine shaft, mate. Determined to find the truth, he leaves on a hunting expedition with Benny and Dicko but they leave him in the middle of nowhere to be mauled by wild pigs. Can Carl escape the pigs and find out what really happened to Beth? Can he meet and expunge Jake Cullens at the same time? Let's hope so. The film starts off really strong in the beginning then gets sidetracked with the Baker brothers sub plot. They're assholes but I want to see more of the Razorback tearing shit up. The Jake Cullen character reminded me of Quint from Jaws, determined and willing to stop at nothing to get his revenge. There are some pretty intense scenes but there isn't a lot of blood shed on camera. It's alright but again I would have liked to see more of the Razorback.
3. Road Games (1981) - Pat Quid and his dingo are ready for a day off from trucking meat across Australia. They pull up to a motel but Quid is so long winded talking to his dingo, that the last room gets scooped up by a man in a green van and the female hitch hiker that Quid chose not to pick up earlier that day. On top of that, he gets an emergency call from dispatch asking him to do a run. Quid grumbles about him having days off but agrees to do it, signs off and wishes his dingo a good night. The next morning, Quid is awoken by the sound of a garbage truck and lets his dingo out for a pee. He notices that the dingo is not the only thing interested in the garbage because he can see somebody watching the trash being thrown away for a hotel window. Once the trash is gone, Quid notices the man with the green van leave and he thinks that is weird. Anyhoo, it's time to pick up his load and he is sent to Perth carrying a lot of ham. While on the road, Quid makes some jokes that I'm sure even the dingo is shaking his head about, when he sees the green van zip past him. Whatever and he keeps on trucking but there's something up a head and Quid has to jam on this breaks to not run into a road block of streamers. Madeline Day jumps into his cab and begs him for a lift because her husband deserted her on the road. Grumble, grumble and the truck moves on and after a little bit, Quid realizes why her husband left her behind. During a road game of eye spy, Mrs. Day answer is a green van. Quid looks and sees it parked in the middle of nowhere, he jams on the breaks and pulls out his trusty binoculars. He sees the man from the green van digging a hole and burying something suspicious in the hole. After some argument with Mrs. Day, they get back in the truck and head out to the next rest stop. Quid tries to call the police but the connection is terrible and the music in the truck stop is too loud. Fuck it and heads back to his truck, Mrs. Day has decided to get a ride from someone else, so it's just him and the dingo. Back to the road and boring the dingo to death with his trucker philosophy, Quid sees a young female hitch hiker and decides to pick her up. She says her name is Pamela, but Quid calls her "Hitch", and that she is tired of her family, so she is on the run. Quid tells "Hitch" about the dangers of the road and then there is a announcement on the radio about a killer on the loose killing hitch hikers. Quid tells "Hitch" about what he's seen involving the guy in the green van. The call the guy "Smith or Jones" and play a game to guess his motives and how he commits the crime. When they get to the next stop, Quid sees the van parked and notices that no one is in the driver seat. He checks out the washroom and sees some feet in the stall. Quid runs out and tells "Hitch" to explore the van and he'll stall/call out "Smith or Jones" in the men's room. Unfortunately, Quid was wrong and "Smith or Jones" ends up kidnapping "Hitch". Now Quid must save "Hitch" before she becomes another case of roadkill. Director Richard Franklin (Patrick) wanted this to be something similar to Rear Window. It has a similar vibe to Rear Window but I don't think that it achieves that same element of fear. Also, they introduce the Jaime Lee Curtis character "Hitch" really late in the story, so the connection between Quid, played by Stacey Keach, is somewhat questionable. The movie reminds me of a good made for TV film, which isn't bad but it's a PG horror and I was hoping for something more R rated. Still, it's an good road movie, weird twists and if you like Stacey Keach,and who doesn't, you'll love it.
2. Night of Fear (1972) - A young woman is having a delightful horseback ride in the forest when she stops for a rest. After strolling a few feet, her horse is startled and so is she by a deranged mountain man, who chases her through the woods to a rundown cabin. He catches her and locks her in the cabin and then the strangest opening montage comes up for this film/pilot TV show. After the credits, a young woman is on her way to play tennis with her boyfriend. They play tennis and then make love behind the tennis fence. After the sex, they wish each other well and head home. I should really start playing tennis. On the way home, the young woman is accidentally run off the road and into the woods. Luckily, she ok, but for some reason doesn't want to drive back to the road and keeps driving deeper into the woods. She has yet another accident and wrecks her car, then guess who shows up? The deranged mountain man! He ends up chasing her around through the forest and she eventually ends up hiding in the mountain man's creepy cabin, having rapey dreams while she snoozes and he has lunch with one of his pet rats at her car. Will she ever escape? Probably not because I read that this was originally a pilot for TV called Fight and was commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Company. The protagonist is similar to Ed Geins and the show is reminiscent of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which came out two years later. I don't know how this got green lighted back then, Terry Bourke (RIP) must have been one charming mofo. I can't even imagine the pitch. Sadly after it aired it was banned, no shit. There are some interesting things about the show but the lack of dialogue and the length of the chase scenes really get tiresome. However, the girl's dream sequence is so fucked up and the ending is so out there that you'll stay tuned in.
1. Wolf Creek (2005) - Liz and Kristy are British tourists backpacking across Australia with their new friend from Sydney, Ben. Before they leave Broome and continue their trip to Cairns, Ben picks up a shitty Ford, so they can travel on the Great Northern Highway and save themselves some time. After a night of partying, they get their shit together and hit the road. Kristy picks up that Ben may like Liz and vice versa so during the trip she mentions something to both of them but it sounds like Ben may have a girlfriend back in Sydney. They leave Halls Creek and stop at a gas station to fill up. While filling up, some locals give them a hard time and Ben keeps his cool and everybody leaves without incident. They stop at Wolf's Creek National Park to check out a giant crater that was left by a 50,000 ton meteorite. When they reach the top of the crater, Ben and Liz split up for Kristy to make kissy face. When they head back to the car, it's raining and the car won't stop. Ahh shitty Ford! Everyone is pissed because they blame each other for leaving the lights on and getting stuck. After a few hours, some funny lights shine around the car and they get scare because they think it could be aliens. No, they're just idiots and it's a car, with Mick Taylor, not from the Stones, and he's wants to give them a hand. Unfortunately, the car needs a new coil and he doesn't have one with him but he does have one back at his shop and he'll put it in for free! Hooray! He gives them a lift back to his camp and gets them some fresh rain water. They chat a bit, then Mick goes to work on their car. Liz falls asleep. When she wakes up, she is gagged and bound! She finds some glass and cuts her hands free, then unties her legs. She sneaks out the window, runs to the car but the keys are gone and so are all her friends but then she hears something. She runs to the window and sees Mick Taylor, not from the Stones, torturing her friend Kristy! Can she save her friend Kristy and possibly not have the worst vacation ever? And where the fuck is Ben? Enjoyed Wolf Creek, loosely based on true life crimes that have happened over the years there. John Jarratt, who plays Mick Taylor, is terrific villain with the ability to come off sweet and naive in one moment and ruthless and crazy in the next. There are some good torture scenes but nothing too over the top and director, Greg Mclean leaves most that to audiences imagination near the end. It does become a excellent game of cat and mouse about half way through the picture and that's what I liked the most, watching these characters try and out wit this relentless maniac. Good Stuff.
After watching these films, people shouldn't be worried about babies being eaten by dingos, although tragic, and what size people knives are but be concerned of the vast highways and off road sites that sit in isolation, waiting for travelers without the common sense to respect the land and culture that their visiting. Have too many Foster's and you could be the next shrimp on the barby.