Tag Archives: Oz

Drink yourself dead

slaughteredSLAUGHTERED

1.5 Stars  2009/18/76m

“You’ll be legless… Armless… Headless…”

Director/Writer: Kate Glover / Cast: Chloe Boreham, Christopher Tomkinson, Cassandra Angelia Swaby, Steven O’Donnell, James Kerley, Erica Baron, Michael Lewis, Tudor Vasile.

Body Count: 10


Britain and Australia share a pub culture like no other, different from trendy bars in the city, “the local” is the choice meeting point for all kinds of folk to sup on a pint, or – in the case of many – down so much that you fall asleep and later stagger on home.

A local pub is the setting for this Australian indie flick, which couldn’t have cost much more than a round of beers. With a plot so simple it was doubtlessly scripted on the back of a beermat, Slaughtered‘s got some problems alright with amateur night acting, a crap sound mix and an obvious killer who has absolutely no motive.

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Yeah, that’s right! There’s no big unmasking or soliliquy of why-I-killed-y’all at the end, it just pretty much stops! Where are the cops? Why aren’t they clearing up bodies and collecting evidence? Why did everyone keep working despite the fact they’d found bodies strewn all over the joint?

If it was intended to be a parody, it doesn’t work. It’s funny but not in the right way and suffers from a major case of predictablosis with a second string of budgets disease. Although it must be said the gore jobs aren’t bad at all, despite that in the scene where a girl is forced to ingest shards of broken glass it’s clear as day that there’s nothing in the liquid!

Silly but inoffensive stuff, notable only for being one of the few slasher films directed by a Sheila.

Tie me backpacker down, sport

wolf_creek

WOLF CREEK

3.5 Stars  2005/18/95m

“How can you be found when nobody knows you’re missing?”

Director/Writer: Greg McLean / Cast: John Jarratt, Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, Nathan Phillips.

Body Count: 5


Here’s something weird; Wolf Creek is a good film which I never, ever want to see again.

Sometimes this just happens, can be that something is so effective once (Session 9; The Orphanage) that a repeat viewing will only dull its initial impact, can be that it was just a bit too heart-breaking (Brokeback Mountain) but here, despite directorial competence and the presence of actual horror, Wolf Creek is a nasty little production, quite repellent in a lot of ways and I wouldn’t want to sit through it again.

Of course there are other negative aspects to this backpackers-in-peril flick, most notably how long it takes before the travelogue beginning shifts into the horror gear (around the halfway mark). A trio of travellers, Sydney native Ben and British gal-pals Liz and Kristy, decide to drive out to Wolf Creek, a meteor crater in the middle of nowhere. Now, this film is Australian, so the middle of nowhere is quite literal. As well as Great White Sharks, Funnelweb Spiders and killer lizardy things, Australia now seems to have an abundance of psychos, for upon returning to their old car, they find it dead and, as darkness falls, macho backwoods “passer by” Mick (Jarratt) offers them a tow to his garage, where they chat affably around the campfire and then fall into a nice…deeeeeep…sleep…

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Liz later wakes to find herself bound in a shack. She escapes but stumbles upon Mick torturing Kristy and so begins the ever-cranking tension of their botched escape plans from his pit of sadism, complete with rotting corpses of previous victims.

Wolf Creek is far from your average stalker flick and while it’s not especially bloody, it’s explicitly violent and at times downright despairing as the girls suffer at the hands of the perky, wisecracking maniac – but there is little Freddy-style humour to his vicious torment.

Such is the nature of their dilemma that you do find yourself screaming at them to run faster, hurry up with the ignition keys or not do what it seems they’re about to! With just the duo the focus of the majority of the film, there are accusations a-plenty thrown at Wolf Creek for being misogynistic. It’s a difficult call to make; the film has roots in real life backpacker murderer Ivan Milat’s case, who preferred sexually assaulting girls, so there’s a real edge to it that’s uncomfortable viewing. At the same time, extended scenes of violence against the girls is grotesquely perverse and could make you feel dirty for watching it. What’s more is that Ben – out for the count for most of the film – simply wakes up and totters away to freedom at the end, oblivious to the fate of his friends and not attacked by the killer at all!

Things move from innovative to cliché once the horror is under way: The girls have ample opportunity to cut the killer’s head off at one point or shoot him, stab him, stamp on his head and instead decide to go it alone in the middle of the bush. Wolf Creek becomes the type of body count movie that thinks above its station at some points but is then unable to source a new way around a problem, the case in point being when Liz picks a random pair of car keys from a choice of a dozen or so and super magic teleporty psychic psycho Mick is already in the back seat!

This convention succeeds in some rug-yanking as things become a bit silly. Mick is able to track a single person in the huge expanse of the outback but cannot find Ben!?

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So it’s a scenically beautiful film with characters sharpened by the long, slow build; gritty and documentarian in feel but also harrowing and depressing with no comfortable resolution or confines of the standard mad slasher opus – but then that’s what horror is, right? The absence of hope – definitively, it should be horrible.

Somewhat reassuringly, McLean’s next film, Rogue, which featured a giant killer crocodile munching tourists in the outback, featured no female fatalities at all, so we can at least be sure he wasn’t going Fulci on us. I have a fair few opinions on ye olde “are slasher films hate-women flicks” debate, which I’ll find a suitable home for sometime in the future; this one cuts it fine and I wish there’d been a girl survivor to beat the shit out of Mick, but all’s (un)fair in love and homicidal rampages. Up to you.

Blurbs-of-interest: Kestie Morassi played one of the nurses in Darkness Falls. John Jarratt was in Next of Kin and played the happy coroner in Needle, as well as returning to the role of Mick in Wolf Creek 2 eight years later and a TV series two years after that.

Pant-Soiling Scenes #3: ROGUE

It’s been a while since I’ve watched a film that had me shouting at the screen: “swim faster!!!” But Rogue did the trick as a humongoid saltwater croc chows down on stranded tourists and, in this particular scene, their makeshift rope-bridge to safety collapses three of them into the water…

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It’s an ace flick to rival Alligator as best killer reptile film ever!! Points were deducted for the dog being killed though. Sad times.

CODA

coda

3.5 Stars  1987/15/96m

“When the music stops, the nightmare begins…”

A.k.a. Deadly Possession / Symphony of Evil

Director: Craig Lahiff / Writers: Craig Lahiff & Terry Jennings / Cast: Penny Cook, Arna-Maria Winchester, Liddy Clark, Olivia Hamnett, Patrick Frost.

Body Count: 5


An impressive minor Australian film originally made for a cinema release but ending up premiering on TV instead. A student of music at an exclusive conservatory is attacked in her apartment and thrown out of a window, surviving for the time being but later being murdered in her hospital bed before she can communicate vital clues to her would-be saviour and subsequent prime suspect.

Said suspects ex-wife – a classmate of the deceased – becomes entangled in the mystery and then obsessed with solving it, this finding herself next in line for stalkage as the maniac in a creepy plastic mask begins cropping up in her life. Because of its final televisual resting place, there’s not much grue here but many cues are taken from Halloween and it emulates some of those spookier moments to great effect, with the killer loitering outside the heroine’s room and stalking her and her friend at the opera!

A minimal cast roster confines all possible suspects and after the initial killing it’s a long time before the next murder but the length chase finale is excellent and confirms the film’s slasher movie ancestry, which it shies away from in the first two thirds in favour of character building and the Murder She Wrote-style sleuthing.

Coda (we’re told a musical term for the conclusion of a composition – la-de-da!) makes a lot of good use out of its intense classical soundtrack, from the metronome on the opening credits and is complimented further by lush photography and intelligent direction during the action scenes. About the only thing that prevents it from advancing further up the star-scale is the overlong mid-section and its preliminary reluctance to blend in with its generic habitat and consequential low body count, which could have been assisted by offing a couple of extra students halfway through.

Nevertheless, like its chosen musical accompaniment, this is a delicate and handsome piece of film.

Blurb-of-interest: Olivia Hamnett played Kate Peterson, the looney-tunes doctor, in Prisoner: Cell Block H.

PARANOID

paranoid-copy2 Stars  2000/18/87m

“Look behind you, he might be there.”

A.k.a. Frightmare

Director/Writer: Ash Smith / Cast: Shanda Lee Besler, Shawn Wright, Summer Sloan LaPann, Brandon O’Dell, Michael Short, Denny Zartman, Tyler Thebaul.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “If a serial killer was stalking me, I think I’d know.”


I couldn’t find a good enough scan of the DVD cover so I had to draw it with Paint. That’s a bloody face and a knife instead of the ‘i’ in Paranoid. Yeah, I even drew the knife.

Anyway, let this not distract you from learning that this Australian film is an out and out Scream clone, which pretends to be be American. It begins with a girl and her parents being wasted in Sugar Hill, Georgia – “the most boring town in the world” – by a famous serial murderer known by the media as The Conscience Killer, who dresses scarily similar to the loon from Cherry Falls.

A slaughter subsequently begins after a an article about the killer is printed by budding high school journo Sarah, whose twin sister Laurie, we learn, was murdered. Yes, nothing ever happens in Sugar Hill. Four murders!? Move away, man! Move to Tazzie. Laurie had a bit of a Maureen Prescott reputation going for her. Let us stroke our chin and utter a big ‘hmmmm’…

Meanwhile, Sarah’s schoolfriends have staged a Halloween funhouse in order to raise money to send the senior class to the Cayman Islands. Why, I wasn’t sure, possibly to open a bank account. To the surprise of nobody bar the cast: the killer stalks Sarah, kills some extras and then goes for a homicidal home run on the last night of the funhouse’s operation – is it the Conscience Killer?? Is it fuck.

This roughtly demonstrates a choice scene from 'Paranoid'

A thrilling screenshot from ‘Paranoid’.

The resolution is far from satisfying and about as convincing as Arnold Schwarzenegger in drag, but apparently “no one suspected a thing!” In all fairness, the young thesps do quite well with the sub-par script but gaping plot holes claim any credibility that happened to be driving by and the score sometimes completely ceases during moments of ‘high drama’ only to return later as if nothing had happened.

But it’s just so lazy… Scream was successful everywhere so why bother trying to pass off a third generation photocopy as anything but a big pile of pants? The Gale Weathers wannabe is even called Kate Windsail!! Windsail!!?

Blurb-of-interest: Michael Short was Chet in The Greenskeeper.

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