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Dead Country: Australian Horror Classics

The Australian Cinémathèque celebrates Halloween with a weekend event focus on Australian horror featuring the genre’s landmark films. The program includes Ted Kotcheff’s Wake in Fright 1971, Colin Eggleston’s The Long Weekend 1978, Richard Franklin’s Patrick 1978, Russel Mulcahy’s Razorback 1984 and Phillip Brophy’s Body Melt 1993 and others. The program includes archival prints from the National Film and Sound Archive, recent restorations and will be complimented by introductions by Dr Mark Ryan (Queensland University of Technology) who has recently completed the first in-depth study of the Australian horror film industry.

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Wake in Fright 1971 M

Wake in Fright 1971 M

Fri 30 Oct 8.00pm / Cinema A

35MM, COLOUR, MONO, 114 MINUTES, AUSTRALIA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: TED KOTCHEFF / SCRIPT: EVAN JONES / BASED ON THE NOVEL BY KENNETH COOK / CINEMATOGRAPHER: BRIAN WEST / EDITOR: ANTHONY BUCKLEY / MUSIC: JOHN SCOTT / PRODUCTION CO: GROUP W, NLT PRODUCTIONS / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: MADMAN ENTERTAINMENT

Wake in Fright is Australian cinema’s Paradise Lost. It is probably the most unflattering depiction of the country that has ever been filmed, but it remains a profoundly ambiguous work, suspended between disgust and a kind of admiration for the honest depravity of what it shows. …John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, published in 1667, tells the story of the fall of Man, and his temptation by Satan. Wake in Fright is virtually the same story. At the core of both is a question of free will, the freedom to choose. No-one forces [protagonist] John Grant into depravity; all they do is offer him the chance to choose it. 'The Yabba’ is the best place in Australia, says a taxi driver at the beginning of Grant’s odyssey. A kind of paradise, in other words, but Grant learns that he has arrived 'after the fall’. The place is populated almost exclusively by men; they drink in huge pubs that stay open regardless of the licensing laws; the only women we see are dull-eyed slatterns, numbed by boredom and the heat. After losing all his money, Grant meets a man, 'Doc’ Tydon, who is almost literally the devil. Over the next 48 hours, Grant loses everything he holds dear — his sense of moral superiority, his physical strength, his dignity, and his inhibitions.’ Paul Burns, Australia Screen

Long Weekend 1978 MA15+

Long Weekend 1978 MA15+

Fri 30 Oct 6.00pm / Cinema A

35MM, COLOUR, MONO, 92 MINUTES, AUSTRALIA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR/CO-PRODUCER: COLIN EGGLESTON / SCRIPT: EVERETT DE ROCHE / CINEMATOGRAPHY: VINCENT MONTON / EDITOR: BRIAN KAVANAGH / PRODUCTION CO: THE AUSTRALIAN FILM COMMISSION, DUGONG FILMS, VICTORIAN FILM / PRINT SOURCE: NATIONAL FILM AND SOUND ARCHIVE ATLAB/KODAK PROJECT / RIGHTS: RICHARD BRENNAN

‘Nature turns nasty in this underrated and, until recently, forgotten masterpiece of terror. Everett de Roche’s remarkable two-character script pits a self-absorbed and relentlessly bickering city couple on a relationship-repairing beach retreat against an increasingly hostile, almost supernatural environment: Birds swoop, the usually docile kangaroos slash and claw, and the reappearance of a dugong shot by Hargreaves’s character as target practice is a harbinger of a fate which, to de Roche’s credit, is never explained. Dark, suspenseful, ambiguous, and utterly enthralling - surely due for a remake.’ Andrew Leavold, 2008 St. George Bank Brisbane International Film Festival

Patrick 1978 M

Patrick 1978 M

Sun 1 Nov 3.00pm / Cinema A

35MM, COLOUR, MONO, 112 MINUTES / 140 MINUTES (DIRECTOR’S CUT), AUSTRALIA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: RICHARD FRANKLIN / SCRIPT: EVERETTE DE ROCHE / CINEMATOGRAPHER: DONALD MCALPINE / EDITOR: EDWARD MCQUEEN-MASON / MUSIC: BRIAN MAY / PRODUCTION CO: FILMWAYS AUSTRALASIAN, AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM CORP, THE AUSTRALIAN FILM COMMISSION, VICTORIAN FILM, PATRICK PRODUCTIONS / PRINT SOURCE: NATIONAL FILM AND SOUND ARCHIVE / RIGHTS: ANTHONY I. GINNANE

‘Australia’s response to the ESP horrors Carrie 1976 and The Fury 1978 sees Patrick, a glass-eyed patient, shocked in to a coma by the death of his mother, unleashing a Pandora’s box of destruction from his hospital bed.  Patrick’s doctor (Sir Robert Helpmann) and sympathetic nurse uncover the patient’s traumatic past, and suspect there’s an endless well of evil behind the vacant stare. Australian horror’s first international breakthrough is a surprisingly effective and highly stylised exercise in tension, due to Richard Franklin’s sure hand and a layered script by Everett de Roche.’ Andrew Leavold, 2008 St.George Bank Brisbane International Film Festival

Roadgames 1981 M

Roadgames 1981 M

Sun 1 Nov 1.00pm / Cinema B

35MM, COLOUR, MONO, 101 MINUTES, AUSTRALIA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: RICHARD FRANKLIN / SCRIPT: EVERETT DE ROCHE, RICHARD FRANKLIN / CINEMATOGRAPHER: VINCENT MONTON / EDITOR: EDWARD MCQUEEN-MASON / MUSIC: BRIAN MAY / PRODUCTION CO: ESSANESS PICTURES, QUEST / PRINT SOURCE: NATIONAL FILM AND SOUND ARCHIVE / RIGHTS: JENNIFER HADDEN / SCREENING FORMAT: DIGITAL BETACAM

‘The late Richard Franklin proudly wears his genre influences on his sleeve in this lively road slasher movie, which shifts gears between Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Steven Spielberg’s Duel. Stacey Keach stars as a truck driver with a penchant for having meaningful conversations with his dog while trucking along Australia’s lonely highways. When an opportunity arises to give a young American woman a lift, he jumps at the chance. Of course, the young woman is played by scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, whose presence in a film tends to augur a high body count; Roadgames is no exception!’ 2008 Melbourne International Film Festival

Turkey Shoot 1982 M

Turkey Shoot 1982 M

Wed 28 Oct 8.00pm / Cinema A

35MM, COLOUR, MONO, 93 MINUTES, AUSTRALIA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: BRIAN TRENCHARD-SMITH / SCRIPT: JON GEORGE, NEIL HICKS / CINEMATOGRAPHER: JOHN MCLEAN / EDITOR: ALAN LAKE / MUSIC: BRIAN MAY / PRODUCTION CO: FILMCO, HEMDALE, FGH / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: ANTHONY I GIANNANE

‘Purist, joyously exploitative drive-in fodder set in a futuristic jungle prison where detainees slated for brainwashing are subjected to endless all-girl showers and torture sequences, then forced to participate in a deadly man-hunt in the North Queensland jungle. Brian Trenchard-Smith’s hyper-ludicrous hybrid of The Big Doll House 1971, Orwell’s 1984, and The Most Dangerous Game 1932 was blasted by critics on its initial theatrical release as the low point of Australian Cinema. Which is true, and proudly so: but only now can the film’s bleak, jet-black humour, prolific gore, and imaginative genre-splicing place this disreputable chancre of a film as a true classic of Australian B-cinema.’ Andrew Leavold, 2008 St.George Bank Brisbane International Film Festival

Razorback 1984 M

Razorback 1984 M

Sat 31 Oct 8.00pm / Cinema A

35MM, COLOUR, DOLBY, 95 MINUTES, AUSTRALIA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: RUSSELL MULCAHY / SCRIPT: EVERETTE DE ROCHE / BASED ON THE NOVEL BY PETER BRENNAN / CINEMATOGRAPHER: DEAN SEMLER / EDITOR: WILLIAM M ANDERSON / MUSIC: IVA DAVIES / PRODUCTION DESIGN: BRYCE WALMSLEY / PRODUCTION CO: MCELROY & MCELROY, UAA FILMS, WESTERN FILM PRODUCTIONS / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: NATIONAL FILM AND SOUND ARCHIVE

‘In a storyline ripped straight from the headlines, a giant boar goes on a killing spree in the outback, apparently claiming an animal rights activist as a victim. Her husband travels from America to uncover the mystery of her death, unaware that the killer might be a monstrous aberration. Babe turned feral, Razorback is Australia’s legendary instalment in the ‘nature goes nuts’ horror genre, directed by music video stalwart Russell Mulcahy (Highlander). The weird and desolate landscape that acts as backdrop to the brutality adds yet another layer to this infamous, rarely screened nugget.’ 2008 Melbourne International Film Festival

Howling III: The Marsupials 1987 M

Howling III: The Marsupials 1987 M

Sat 31 Oct 6.00pm / Cinema A

35MM, COLOUR, DOLBY, 94 MINUTES, AUSTRALIA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: PHILIPPE MORA / BASED ON THE NOVEL BY GARY BRANDNER / CINEMATOGRAPHER: LOUIS IRVING / EDITOR: LEE SMITH / MUSIC: ALLAN ZAVOD / PRODUCTION CO: BANCANNIA HOLDINGS / PRINT SOURCE: NATIONAL FILM AND SOUND ARCHIVE / RIGHTS: PHILIPPE MORA

A mutant and deadly strain of werewolves has survived as an Australian genus evolved from the now-extinct marsupial wolf. Sociologist Professor Harry Beckmeyer, is studying the species and stumbles on one of the females, the she-wolf Jerboa, who is carrying a werewolf child of her new normal human boyfriend Donny (Leigh Biolos). The Professor learns of a connection with Serbian werewolves and elicits the help of defector Russian ballerina Olga (Dasha Blahova); and soon falls in love with her, while trying to help her escape a gang of angry hunters keen to eradicate the rabid marsupials. Togethere with Jerboa and Donny, he and Olga stay hidden at an idyllic riverside camp, avoiding human contact, raising their kids. Jerboa and Donny eventually move out, but the Beckmeyers remain - until years later they all end up in Hollywood ...

Body Melt 1993 MA15+

Body Melt 1993 MA15+

Wed 28 Oct 6.00pm / Cinema A

35MM, COLOUR, DOLBY, 81 MINUTES, AUSTRALIA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: PHILLIP BROPHY / SCRIPT: ROD BISHOP / BASED ON THE SHORT STORIES BY PHILLIP BROPHY / CINEMATOGRAPHER: RAY ARGALL / EDITOR: BILL MURPHY / MUSIC: PHILLIP BROPHY / PRODUCTION DESIGN: MARIA KOZIC / PRODUCTION CO: THE AUSTRALIAN FILM COMMISSION, BODYMELT PTY. LTD, DUMB FILMS, FILM VICTORIA / PRINT SOURCE: NATIONAL FILM AND SOUND ARCHIVE / RIGHTS: DANIEL SCHARF

‘Philip Brophy's Body Melt is a catastrophe narrative. One sunny day in suburbia, a hideously dying man crashes his car into Pebbles Court, Homesville. He's been brought to the point of meltdown by an experimental drug marketed as "Vimuville" vitamins, and he's arrived, too late, to warn the Court's inhabitants not to swallow the sample dropped in their mailboxes. So then the story scatters: a businessman, beset by increasing hallucinations, picks up a strange woman at the airport and takes her home; two rowdy wog teenagers get waylaid at a run-down farm of a seemingly inbred family; a yuppie family journeys to a sinister health resort; an expectant woman at home begins to feel mighty queasy. …Brophy's key subject has long been the body and our experience of it: life seized as a calculus of bodily effects, stimuli, drives, mechanisms. Horror cinema offers an expressionist statement of what is, for him, a kind of base, physical reality — bodies that devour and decay, consume and expel, peel and ravage.’ Adrian Martin, Photofile 1995