FREAKSHOW Long Weekend
Join us every Monday, as we look at a cult movie. Our film of the week this time shows what happens when you mess with a bunyip!
Director: Colin Eggleston
Cast: John Hargreaves, Briony Behets
Available on region one and region two DVD
Watch the trailer here
Alfred Hitchcock’s classic The Birds inspired a slew of films about what happens when nature turns against humanity. The ‘70s was the highpoint of the genre, at least in terms of quantity: it was the era of Frogs, Squirm, Night Of The Lepus and The Swarm. As that list suggests, most of the films weren’t much cop. Long Weekend stands out from the crowd; this little-known low-budget Australian chiller is a classic of its type.
It’s a two-hander that, like another, more recent Aussie film – Open Water – centres around a bickering middle-class couple. Marcia (Briony Behets, who Neighbours fans may remember as glamorous bitch Amanda Harris) and Peter (John Hargreaves) are on holiday in the middle of nowhere. To say that their relationship is “dysfunctional” is an understatement. This is a pair for whom “you self-indulgent maggot!” is practically a term of affection. So when Mother Nature turns against them, you find yourself cheering her on…
They deserve it, too. Peter, in particular, is a human bulldozer, leaving a trail of carnage in his wake. Early on, a kangaroo bounces off the bull bars of his Land Rover, but it’s when he shoots a mysterious shape in the water (which turns out to be a bunyip – a seal-like creature) that the couple’s fate is sealed.
What follows is an eerie, doom-laden exercise in carefully ratcheting up the tension until it becomes almost unbearable. There’s no gore and there are no lurid effects; just sinister rustles and weird monstrous howls in the bushes. It’s a terrible tease of a movie, building and building the viewer’s anticipation for so long that when the couple finally get theirs, it’s a palpable relief.
Long Weekend was recently the subject of a remake starring James Caviezel, but if you take our advice you’ll stick with the more unsettling original.
Ian Berriman, reviews editor of SFX and cult movie nut, has watched Rat Pfink A Boo Boo four or five times, but never seen On The Waterfront. The nutter.
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