I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~ Eartha Kitt
Published November 26th 2022
zombies, ghosts and John Jarratt
Australia does genre films well, including horror. Instead of focusing on old classics, or more recent hugely popular movies like Wolf Creek (2005) or The Babadook (2014) I thought I'd write about a few Aussie films that even horror fans may have overlooked.
Hanna's son is missing, presumed dead. She moves into a cottage surrounded by cane fields, resolving to stay in town until she finds out what happened to him. Unfortunately for her, the townspeople have secrets that they don't want uncovered.
Sweet River is a slow burning, atmospheric horror film, directed by Justin McMillan. It stars Lisa Kay (from Neighbours and Home and Away), as Hana. It is currently screening on Netflix.
2. Needle (2010)
A university student named Ben Rutherford inherets a mysterious box from his late father. When the box is stolen, Ben's friends start dying in mysterious gruesome ways. He and his estranged brother, Marcus, will need to work together to find and stop the killer. Needle is an independent horror movie, directed by John V. Soto. It's an okay shlocky horror movie, with an Australian flavour at times. Be warned- it is quite gruesome, with a lot of blood.
I had heard it described as a murder mystery, so I was expecting it to have clues as to the identity of the killer, but since the viewer gets next to no backstory for most of the suspects there isn't really enough information to figure it out until near the end.
The performances are solid, although I had to wonder why the characters of Ben (Michael Dorman, from The Secret Life of Us and Daybreakers) and Marcus (Travis Fimmel from Vikings) were Americans, forcing the actors who played them (a Kiwi and an Aussie, respectively) to fake American accents. It didn't seem to be important to the plot, and was a bit off-putting.
It made me laugh when the coroner, played by John Jarratt, described the murder scene as "a dog's breakfast".
3. 100 Bloody Acres (2012)
Two brothers, Reg and Lindsay, run a fertiliser business together in South Australia. They are running short on cash when a van crashes near their property and the driver is killed on impact. Reg steals the body to use for fertiliser. When he picks up some hitchikers, it seems they may be destined for the same fate.
100 Bloody Acres is a horror-comedy directed by two brothers, Colin and Cameron Cairnes. It stars Damon Herriman (from Mindhunter and Justified) as Reg, and Angus Sampson (from Insidious and Spirited) as Lindsay. Anna McGahan (from A Picnic at Hanging Rock) is one of the strangers Reg gives a ride to. John Jarratt is in this one too, this time as a police officer.
100 Bloody Acres is a darkly funny, gruesome, and very Aussie film.
4. Little Monsters (2019)
Failed musician, Dave, offers to chaperone his young nephew's school excursion as an excuse to spend time with the young, female teacher. When zombies break out of a nearby military facility and attack, Dave is forced to help defend the children.
Little Monsters is directed by Abe Forsythe. The teacher, Miss Audrey (Lupita Nyong'o), is my hero, keeping her cool while surrounded by both zombies and cranky five year olds. It's a fun, feel good film, which is not something I can say about many zombie movies.
5. The Tunnel (2011)
The New South Wales government announces plans to use an underground water source beneath Sydney as a solution to the water crisis. The announcement proves controversial, amid fears that it will displace the homeless people who live in disused tunnels beneath the city. When the plan suddenly stalls, a documentary film crew decide to investigate the tunnels and find out why.
The Tunnel is a found footage, documentary style horror movie directed by Carlo Ledesma. It's tense, scary in parts, and does a lot with a little. It was made on a tiny budget, using a unique crowd funding model. There is a documentary called The Tunnel: The Other Side of Darkness about the process of making it.