Friday, 30 September 2016


Title: Westworld
Director: Michael Crichton
Released: 1973
Starring: Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin, Norman Bartold, Alan Oppenheimer, Victoria Shaw, Dick Van Patten, Linda Scott, Michael Mikler
Plot: In the near future a high tech amusement park has been created in which guests can act out their fantasies in one of the three “worlds”. However when the park androids begin to malfunction they soon start to turn on the guests. 

Review: While Michael Crichton might be best known as a writer, having given us the likes of Congo, Jurassic Park and Disclosure he is should be equally recognised for his work as a director with this film not only marking his debut as a director but also the first film to use 2D computer imagery.

Opening with a reporter greeting returning Delos guests sharing their experiences of playing knights or cowboys, engaging in shoot outs and marrying princesses before we are shown the introductory video to the resort which outlines the three worlds they have created West World (Wild West), Medieval World and Roman World with each promising their own experiences within their lifelike settings. We also meet Peter (Benjamin) and his friend John (Brolin) who are both paying $1,000 per day to live out their cowboy fantasies despite Peter being sceptical about the whole experience. 

In many ways a test run for “Jurassic Park” as here we get another hi-tech park suffering a major malfunction, only this time instead of rampaging dinosaurs we get homicidal androids who’ve forgotten the fact that they aren't supposed to be killing the guests. The idea behind the parks though is fantastic with guests being free of any kind of moral quandary over the actions they make thanks to the park being staffed with android actors for the guests to engage with as well as seduce and kill. This of course is just what Peter and John want of course as they play out their gunslinger fantasies, while casually giving a thought to joining in a bank robbery while they hook up at the local brothel. 
The androids in the three worlds all play a variety of roles, while programmed to respond to the guests or provide cues to engage with them in shootouts or romantic dalliances, while going into a state where they just repeat themselves if a guest misses their cue, bringing back memories for myself of the restaurant scene in Cronenberg’s “Existenz”. Yul Brynner is unquestionably brilliant as the gunslinger as he essentially plays the android version of his character in “The Magnificent Seven” and perfectly projects a cold and emotionless exterior, only ever showing emotion when he’s running through one of his scripted lines and as a result gives us the perfect villain of sorts for the film and in many ways a forerunner for the unrelenting killing machine that James Cameron gives us in “The Terminator”.
Unlike “Jurassic Park” the issues with the park here aren't caused by sabotage but instead a technical breakdown that the technicians can’t resolve because they don’t fully understand how the technology actually works. The lead up till the collapse of the park though is subtly done as more of the androids start to malfunction as we build up to the final chase between Peter and the unnamed android gunslinger (Brynner) as he tries to escape through the other worlds. it’s during this build up we also get to see hints of the inner workings of the park as a team of engineers work through the night to reset scenes and clean up shoot out’s the guests seemingly none the wiser of the work they are carrying out to maintain their fantasies.
While Westworld might be the main focus, Crichton also gives us passing glances of the other worlds, mainly to show how the breakdowns are spreading across the park and possibly as an excuse to work a sword fight into what is essentially a sci-fi western with one of the guests engaging in a length battle with the medieval world villain who unsurprisingly is “The Black Knight” the same as Westworld’s black clad gunslinger. Sadly we never get to see who the villain of Roman world is.

While Peter and John might initially be setup as being the heroes of the film, here Crichton instead does something unexpected as he follows the pair on their cowboy fantasy only to in the finale suddenly have one of them suddenly and unexpectedly shot dead leaving the survivor to spend the final 15 mins running away from the Gunslinger. It’s an unexpected ending especially when it doesn’t see either of our supposed heroes stepping up and becoming the hero they are playing at being.

A strightforward story which throws out some intresting ideas and ones which Crichton obviously explored further with “Jurassic Park”, while a sequel “Futureworld” and a short lived series “Beyond Westworld” attempted to expand the world further with little success and while the forthcoming HBO series aims to take another crack at this world this remains a fun curiosity if ultimately too disposable to be considered high sci-fi.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Under Siege 2

Title: Under Siege 2: Dark Territory
Director: Geoff Murphy
Released: 1995
Starring: Steven Segal, Eric Bogosian, Katherine Heigl, Morris Chestnut, Everett McGill, Brenda Bakke

Plot: Having retired from the Navy Casey Ryback (Segal) is now working as a chef in his own restaurant, while following death of his brother he plans to take his niece Sarah (Heigl) on vacation in an attempt to reconnect with her. Things however don’t quite go to plan when the train they are on gets hijacked by ex-CIA programmer Travis Dane (Bogosian) along with his hired mercenaries with plans to blow up the Eastern seaboard by targeting a nuclear reactor hidden beneath the Pentagon.

Review: While rewatching this film for the umpteenth time I was suddenly hit with the realisation that this might actually be my go to action movie, a position unsurprisingly held previously by “Die Hard” whose legacy has been in many ways tainted by its oversaturation in pop culture, let alone hipsters citing it as their favourite Christmas movie.

Following on from the equally great original, here the sequel trades up the Naval Warship for a cross country train which also has the great touch of being in an area of zero radio coverage known as “Dark Territory” and despite the initial reservations when I saw this about how exciting a train could be as a setting especially one which wasn’t out of control, it somehow really works with director Geoff Murphy truly utilising the setting while film also marked his last mainstream release after “Young Guns 2” and “Freejack” before moving onto doing 2nd unit work for the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Casey Ryback is really the closest that Segal has come to getting a trademark character and compared to the interchangeable hero roles he plays in his other films, it only makes it all the more sad that this would be the final outing for the character, despite Segal maintaining that they are working on a third film which I can only assume would take place on a plane seeing how between this film and the original they already covered boats and trains. That being said we kind of already had that movie with “Executive Decision” a film which crushed many fanboys at the time as Segal didn’t get quite the leading role the poster promised. Still despite having put on weight since his previous outing leading to Segal wearing a girdle the character of Ryback here really hasn’t lost a step as we re-join him to find he’s still the same killer combination of badass and chef!

While Ryback has to once more deal with a group of trained mercenaries, this time lead by a bleached  Everett McGill; what really makes this film stand out is just how great a villain Eric Bogosian makes as Travis Dane a role which was also offered but turned down by both Laurence Fishburne and Jeff Goldblum the later of which I would have also have liked to have seen. At one point Gary Busey was set to return despite being blown up in the first film and was rumoured to have fallen out with Segal after he defended Erika Eleniak from his persistent advances. However thanks to Busey’s “Pay or Play” deal he was paid his full $750,000 salary which Segal as producer had to ironically pay without Busey working one day on the film.

Bogosian here essentially steals every scene he’s in as he embodies the role of Travis, a former CIA hacker / programmer who after feeling he was wrong by his former employers plans to use the Earthquake generating Satellite to wipe out Washington D.C and much of the Eastern seaboard. At the same time he’s a focused maniac constantly working it seems two moves ahead of everyone else as he foils with ease any attempt made to regain control of the satellite. Interestingly he also has no kind of combat skills and never even picks up a gun as he prefers to hide behind his henchmen lead by Penn (McGill) who he lets get on with dealing with Ryback while he plays mind games with the government.

While it might in many ways just relocate the plot of the first film, there is still a lot of fun action throughout the film with Murphy really managing to make the most of what would on first appearances appear to be a very limited setting but somehow Murphy really manages to make the most of the training setting as the action not only takes place inside the train, but also on top and underneath as well as a brief spot of “Cliffhanger” inspired action off the train aswell. Despite Segal being known for his Aikido skills here the action is instead more based around heroic gunplay and honing his inner MacGyver and in many ways foreshadowed the path. We do however get a tasty looking knife fight between Ryback and Penn to fill the required big showdown requirement while it was nice to see that they didn’t have Travis suddenly turn into a secret badass in the finale.

An incredibly fun action film and one certainly helped by its quick pacing and colourful villains which help to cover for the shortcomings the film has such as Segal limited acting range and Katherine Heigl’s equally bland performance as his niece which seems to only have been included to add some kind of emotional connection to the story. Still despite this there is much to enjoy here as in many way it surpasses the original while providing a rare highlight for this period of Segal’s career and one which he has long since fallen from.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

The Thing (2011)

Title:  The Thing
Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
Released: 2011
Starring: Ulrich Thomsen, Eric Christian Olsen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Trond Espen Seim, Kim Bubbs

Plot: A prequel to the events of the original film, as a Norwegian research team based in Antarctica accidently stumble across a buried alien space craft aswell as the frozen body of it’s alien pilot, which they decide to bring back to their base to study further. Unsure as to what they have found head scientist Dr Sander Halvorson (Thomsen) and his assistant Adam Finch (Olsen), bring in paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Winstead) only to find out to late that the body in the ice is still alive, as it escapes and being taking on the appearance of the research team, as mistrust begins to run rampant as they struggle to identify which of them is human and which of them is the thing.

Review: John Carpenter’s “The Thing” in my own humble opinion, is without a doubt one of the scariest movies ever made, while released when Carpenter was working at the peak of his directing talent and a loving remake of the equally classic “The Thing From Another World” with Carpenter taking full advantage of the skills of Special effects wizardry of Rob Bottin to bring to life some truly hellish visions, which obviously wasn’t possibly for the original to pull off with it’s B-movie budget, even if it’s gasoline throwing sequence still looks equally amazing today. So perhaps it was with some hesitation that I approached this latest big budget remake of a horror classic.

It’s unsurprisingly that this release has been greeted with the usual hostility from some members of the Horror community, who view any remake of an established classic as nothing short of being sacrilegious, which is a shame really as this latest remake plays more like a big budget fan fiction than anything resembling a remake and in that sense makes it more comparable to Zack Snyder’s equally fun remake of “Dawn of the Dawn” the producers of which Marc Abraham and Eric Newman are also behind this film aswell, which plays well for the film especially as they were ultimately responsible for this film being a prequel rather than yet another remake, rightly defining Carpenter’s original as “Perfect” and any attempt to remake it would be similar to “Paint(ing) eyebrows on the Mona Lisa”. So here we are introduced to another group of potential alien chowder, who despite this time being largely comprised of educated scientists are still in many ways are the same kind of blue collar workers that we saw in the original, while their mix of Norwegian’s and American’s makes for another interesting angle with Director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. insisting quite rightfully that the Norwegian scientists frequently speak in their native tongue, which adds a delightfully inventive new level to the continually rising sense of paranoia.

Still what is clear throughout is how much of a fan of the original that Heijningen is, as he not only treats the source material with great respect, but also manages to capture the same claustrophobic atmosphere while making it equally hard to spot the real scientists from their alien clone, while he also ensures that the links to the original or plentiful many of which will raise a smile from the fans of the original, while also finding time to cleverly reference classic moments by given them a slight twist as the blood test is now replaced with Kate suspensefully checking each of the team members teeth for spaces were fillings are supposed to be, after discovering that the thing is unable to replicate metal, while the first time we meet Kate she is shown examing a cadaver which bares a striking resemblance to the thing dog hybrid from the original.

Sadly we are not given any form of new insights into what the thing exactly is, while it’s personal motives proves frustratingly less clear, as it is first setup as trying to escape the frozen landscape by imitating members of the team, so that it might potentially infect a larger population, a theory which is soon dashed when it attacks the crew of the escape chopper hence removing it’s easiest route of escape. Next it’s that the thing just wants to kill everyone at the research station, before then seemingly decided it would rather just escape in it’s spaceship, though seeing how the craft has been buried for the last 10,000 years makes even less sense outside of providing a unique location for the final showdown, yet still leaves the nagging question as to if it still is as fully functional as it seems, why not escape this way long before now?

Still if you find the motives of the thing baffling you may find the distinct lack of character development even more frustrating with most of the scientists interchangeable to each other, seeing how the team is largely comprised of burley bearded Norwegians, with Heijningen doing little to help them standout from each other, to the point were it seems only the Americans and a handful of key characters are easy to identify.

The cast who get parts bigger than Norwegian scientist #2 are all likable enough with Thomsen good fun as the Dr. Halvorson whose own personal research clearly takes presidence over the lives of his team, while Winstead embodies the tough Dr. Lloyd who shares more than a few traits with Ripley from the “Alien” saga as she brings another female alien ass-kicker to life, with Winstead looking equally comfortable in her lab coat as she does welding a flame thrower.

Thanks to CGI being sadly the preference over practical effects these days, it is unsurprising that the thing is largely a CGI creation this time around, which also allows for a whole new set of hellish forms for it to take, which feature heavy use of whip cracking tentacles and teethed appendages, while also demonstrating a whole new set of tricks rather than just recycling the fan favorites. Still it would seem that Heijningen is not a director to hold back, especially as he equally rivals the gore quota of the original with bodies being melded into each other and torn appendages taking on a life of their own, there is plenty to enjoy while the scientists are not slow to break out the flamethrowers once the thing makes it’s first appearance, which did have me asking as to why for a non military lab that they processed so many? I’m not sure if this column has any arctic based scientists who read it, but if anyone wants to shed any light on these, then please feel free to do so.

While it may not be on the same level as the original, it still provides a fun companion piece which helps further the mythology of the thing, perhaps as this film further proves one of Sci-horrors greatest unsung heroes and while it would be nice to see a whole heap of monster movies follow in it’s wake or further additions to the series, this film provides enough gooey fun to tie you over in the meantime…. just make sure you eat before you watch it.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Elwood's Essentials #15 - Wayne's World

Title:  Wayne’s World
Director: Penelope Spheeris
Released: 1992
Starring: Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Tia Carrere, Rob Lowe, Lara Flynn Boyle, Kurt Fuller, Brian Doyle-Murray, Ed O’Neil, Meat Loaf, Chris Farley, Robert Patrick, Alice Cooper

Plot: Eternal slackers and rock fans Wayne and Garth run their public access TV show out of Wayne’s parent’s basement. Things however look up for the pair when television producer Benjamin Oliver buys the rights to the show launching them into the mainstream unaware that Benjamin wants to exploit the show’s popularity for himself.

Review: One of the more important films of my early film watching years and one which in retrospect I can now see just how much of an impact it had on me especially in terms of my musical tastes and even though I might not have grown my hair long or start a crappy cover band it did spark a love of Alice Cooper, while at the same time giving us a rock out to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” so iconic that Queen fans (and pretty much everyone else) has been imitating it since to the point where I can no longer listen to that darn song.

Adapted from the “Saturday Night Live” sketch this film also marked Mike Myer’s feature film debut and to date it remains the highest grossing of the films adapted from sketches on the show. At the same time this remains one of the best known films by director Penelope Spheeris who’s trilogy of documentaries looking at the alt. music scene through three key eras, the second of which covering the late 80’s heavy metal scene almost making her too perfect a director for the film and perhaps in some ways giving her a chance to make up for passing up on “This Is Spinal Tap”.

The plotting of the film is incredibly straightforward ensuring that it never gets in the way of the humour, with the sleazy suit trying to rip off our good natured rock fans being an easy story to identify with. At the same time the world which the film is set in is completely believable with time being given to establish memorable locations such as the “Gasworks” rock club and “Stan Mikita’s Donuts” run by the fantastically dark Glen (Ed O’Neil) whose obsession with murder and death is never fully explained, yet O’Neil unquestionably steals every scene he’s in with his unflinchingly flat tone.

While the film is largely carried by both Myers and Carvey, despite Myers originally creating it as a vehicle for himself, the pair unquestionably share a strong onscreen chemistry, further helped by their characters despite their shared interests are the complete opposite personality wise to each other enabling them to pull off fun scenes on their own aswell as together. At the same time Tia Carrere is thankfully given more to do as Cassandra than just being the feisty rock chick love interest for Wayne and while her role would be further developed in the sequel, here she is always fun when she is around without taking the focus away from our hapless duo. It’s equally worth noting that in the film she does all her own singing, much like Carvey actually doing the drum solo we see in the film which is impressive to say the least.

Rob Lowe is equally on great form here, reviving his career with this performance which had stalled thanks to his sex tape scandal. Here though he brings the right combination of sleaze and charm to roll to make it work, so that even though we know he’s trying to screw them over we can’t help like them to be charmed by his personality and while perhaps he might not get the comeuppance he ultimately deserves thanks to being lost in the multiple ending mix, he still provides the right kind of foe to oppose Wayne and Garth.

Switching constantly in style between straightforward comedy to “Airplane” style surreal-ness such as Garth’s Mad scientist scene, with both Wayne and Garth frequently breaking the forth wall to address the audience and share their thoughts on what’s happening around them. It’s kind of a bold move to try and blend these styles and yet somehow Spheeris manages to make Myer’s script (co-written with former Saturday Night Live staff writers Bonnie and Terry Turner) which seemingly was written to maximise the humour in every scene regardless of it requires changing the comedic style. The smoothness of these comedic transitions being only the more noticeable when compared to the sequel whose production Spheeris belived she was blocked from directing due to the clashes with Myer’s she had over the final cut of this film.

Watching the film now is almost like looking at a snapshot of the 90’s which it fully embraces and wears proudly on its sleve much like its unashamed love of the rock music scene it represents with not only cameos by both Meat Loaf and Alice Cooper but also features a memorable soundtrack packed with classic tracks from the likes of Soundgarden, Eric Clapton, Black Sabbath and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Some might see the film being so set in its period as something of a negative but really its no different than the likes of overrated trash like “The Breakfast Club” which somehow always avoid such detractions.  Most important though is the genuine love for this scene that everyone involved especially both Mike Myers and Dana Carvey clearly has so that it doesn’t come off as some kind of sneering satire. Yes some of the characters are dumb or slackers but it’s never seen as being due to the fact that they are rock fans.

While some of the catchphrases might have been long since burnt out the quick plotting and rapid fire humour makes this still an incredibly fresh comedy aswell as providing a fun snapshot of early 90’s pop culture.

Party On!!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Ozploitation - An Introduction

It’s hard to imagine it now but at one point Australia was one of a small group of countries alongside Ethiopia and Iceland which didn’t have a film industry. Infact the only films being made were via studios outside of the country who came over to make classy pictures such as “Walkabout” or “Age of Consent”. Still thanks to the success of these films the Australian government’s eyes to the potential of Australia setting up its own film industry.

Australian cinema itself can be seen as falling into two categories with the mainstream cinema often coming across like a hybrid of both European and Hollywood cinema. Ozploitation meanwhile is a much more wilder and bawdy beast born out of the relaxing of censorship laws which had previously been some of the strictest by Don Chipp the minister for customs and excise who also brought in the “R” rating. With this simple change he unwittingly also opened the gate for a host of directors looking to make money off the drive in / grindhouse market both in Australia and more keyly in the states.

These early examples of the genre were largely bawdy sex comedies and skin flicks such as the hard drinking “Barry Mckenzie” films which not only featured rivers of vomit (a cinematic first for Australia) but also came with their own “NPA” Rating standing for “No Poofters Allowed”. Amusingly rather than being seen for their intended satire they were instead embraced by the same people whose lifestyles were being mocked and who instead saw it bizarrely as some kind of endorsement. By 1980 however interest in these films had severely declined though at the same the genre was still going strong thanks to the large number of genre films being produced, which embraced not only their exotic locale but also brought a distinctive style of splatter and vehicular carnage to the screen. The demand for these genre films soon providing a place for the likes of Brian Trenchard Smith who favouring a “laughs and gasps” style over traditional storytelling soon became a firm favourite amongst genre fans. At the same time other directors such as George Miller and Russell Mulcahy also made their debuts through the genre with Miller arguably crafting with “Mad Max” the definitive car smash movie and one which suprisingly didn’t usher in a host of imitators in his native Australia but Italy instead who churned out a host of post-apocalyptic car smash fantasies.


As the popularity of the films quickly increased productions started importing American actors such as Jamie Lee Curtis and Dennis Hopper to help boost their productions, though more often the so called stars being recruited had often fallen from fame due to age or personal issues making it always surprising who you find turning up in these films such as one time Bond George Lazenby who found a way out of his blacklist status through these genre films most noteworthy by appearing as the villainous gangster Jack Wilton in Australia’s only Kung fu movie “The Man From Hong Kong” staring Hong Kong Legend Jimmy Wang Yu.

These productions were often fraught with as many issues caused by these imported stars as they were the lack of general health and safety with Wang Yu seeing the production of “The Man From Hong Kong” as perhaps being beneath his legendary status, even beating up director Brian Trenchard Smith for real in the film where he appears as a thug during the elevator fight sequence, leading Roger Ward offering to give him “a slap”. Smith declined the offer stating that his “revenge would come in the box office” which it unquestionably did when the film out grossed all of Wang Yu’s own directed movies. Dennis Hopper meanwhile during the shooting of “Mad Dog Morgan” was at this point still every bit the Wildman as he proceeded to consume copious amounts of drugs and alcohol during the shoot, while rubbing many of the production the wrong way with his method acting. Unsurprisingly by the end of the production thanks to a series of offset incidents Hopper had added a ban from Australia to his list of felonies acuminated during the shoot. At the same time the influx of American actors caused tensions with “Actors Equity” who felt that jobs were being taken away from Australian actors.


By 1985 the genre was running on fumes as the quality of films being churned out severely lessened in quality with the occasional title such as “The Return of Captain Invincible”, “Turkey Shoot” and “Blood Moon” with its “fright break” appearing as standouts with “Dead In Drive In” being often touted as the last great movie of the genre, especially with stunt man Guy Norris setting a world record truck jump of 160 feet challenging the already impressive record set by "Survivor" for most gasoline exploded in one scene during its memorable plane crash sequence. Still while it might have seemed that the genre ended here, it was infact merly dormant as the spirit of these film lingered on within the next generation of film makers who'd been inspired to direct their own features having grown up with these movies.

Kicking off this new era of Ozploitation movies was the grimy and downright brutal “Wolf Creek” the debut feature by Greg McLean in which a trio of backpackers are hunted by the serial killer Mick Taylor played by Ozploitation regular John Jarratt, while not only essentially sold on it’s “Head on a Stick” scene but also marked a brutal and darker direction for horror, as it brought in elements which would be later embraced by the “New French Extremity” movement. It could be argued that this new era started earlier with the hit and miss zombie movie “Undead” but it was “Wolf Creek” which had us suddenly paying a lot more attention to what Australia was producing once more, even though it wouldn’t be until 2007 when these films really began to gain moment as McLean gave us his giant croc follow up “Rouge”, while the following year saw it being accompanied by the likes of Revenge thriller “The Horseman” which gave us a penis on the wrong end of a bicycle pump aswell as “The Loved Ones” which gave us a dark tale of high school obsession.


While these films all seemed to homage in one way or another back to the glory days of the genre while showcasing a love for shock and splatter while the popularity of these early films also inspired misguided remakes of genre favourites such “Long Weekend”, “Turkey Shoot” and “Patrick”, it would the 2015 release of “Mad Max: Fury Road” which truly made the world sit up and take notice as after 30 years of development hell and time away making delightful family fare about talking pigs and dancing penguins George Miller finally brought back his wasteland folk hero aswell as his fetishtic lens for shooting vehicular carnage as he reminded everyone how you truly make a car smash movie let alone proving he’d not lost his edge in the intervening years.

As of the time of writing Australia’s film production especially for horror films has only continued to grow marking a promising future for its genre cinema and ensuring that the Ozploitation spirit continues to live on, as it continually proves as it did during its golden years as a valuable source of inventive cinema for genre cinema fans.

Starting Point – Five Ozploitation Essentials

Long Weekend - Peter and Marcia decide to go camping for the weekend, at a remote beach in an attempt to save their marriage, only to find that nature isn’t in an accommodating mood. This is an eco-horror where nature itself runs amok or is it? The movie won’t confirm it either way, but to those outside of its native Australia the woods surrounding the couple have never seemed so menacing, while director Colin Eggleson teases us with what is happening to them and what is actually responsible which is a hard trick to pull off but one perfectly achieved here.

The Return of Captain Invincible – Released during the dying days of the Ozploitation boom, this random mishmash of Musical and superhero movie, sees the titular superhero who is essentially superman with the power of magnatism forced into retirement after being accused of being a communist. Now thirty years later he is hiding out in Australia and a raging alcoholic while called back into action by the US government to battle his nemesis “Mr. Midnight” played by a game Christopher Lee who is threatening the world with his hypno-ray.

A random film to say the least and one which while it might not work all the way through, still has enough randomness to make it worth a curious watch alongside some fun songs. Plus how many superheroes can cite Alcoholism as their weakness?

Roadgames – Playing like a road movie version of “Rear Window” as Patrick a truck driver traveling across the Australian outback finds himself tracking a serial killer praying on women along the highway. Director Richard Franklin is a self confessed Hitchcock obsessive and here it really shows in this unique road movie which had originally been penned for Sean Connery to play the lead role which eventually went to Stacy Keach instead after he couldn’t afford Connery’s salary. Still the film is noteworthy for featuring Jamie Lee Curtis on the end of her Horror starlet period which ended with her next role in “Halloween 2”.

Celia - Celia is a nine year old with an active imagination growing up in 1950s suburban Melbourne, who constantly escapes into a fantasy world to escape the ongoing troubles around her, while society deals with both the fear of communism and the rabbit plague. An obscure film which sits amongst the likes of “Lord of the Flies” and “War of the Buttons” with a playful dark side which at the same time left me wanting to compare this film to arguably Peter Jackson’s best film “Heavenly Creatures” plus how many films can boast of their child cast carrying out a mock hanging?

The Loved Ones - When Brent turns down Lola’s invitation to the school prom, she concocts a plan for her own prom instead. One of the most exciting entries in the Ozploitation revival this tale of the scorned wallflower with a dark side is grimly gripping viewing which plays better than being just another torture porn movie, especially as this one is packed with some truly jaw dropping surprises throughout.
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