Australian horror

All posts tagged Australian horror

A “Throwback” to Bigfoot Down Under

Published June 24, 2015 by vfdpixie

throwback

Throwback (2013, 93 mins.)

Independent filmmakers put their passion, savings, blood, sweat and tears into a film; sometimes having to stop production due to lack of finances, actor schedules or good old Mother Nature.  The last two factors are what Australia’s Travis Bain endured to make his creature feature Throwback.  Named for the throwback horror films from the 40’s and 50’s and also the creature’s evolutionary standing, this film took 2 years to make due to a persistent rainy season and working around the talent’s day jobs.  The end result is an homage to old school monsters and Bain’s childhood horror movie favourites.

Kent (Anthony Ring) and Jack (Shawn Brack) are treasure hunters dreaming of hitting it big in an unexplored tropical forest as they search for the legendary bounty of outlaw Thunderclap Newman.  This expedition has its obstacles with betrayal, a diligent forest ranger named Rhiannon (Melanie Serafin), and a rogue ex-cop McNabb (Vernon Wells) who searches for a killer.  Oh yes, and the legendary Yowie (Warren Clements), Australia’s Bigfoot.  These characters collide as they all try to survive each other and escape the wrath of this mythical creature.

For the budget, the film was beautifully shot.  Interesting camera angles and Yowie point-of-view showcased the beautiful North Queensland jungle/forest setting.  Even though you know it’s a man in a suit, there was creative shooting of the creature himself, with blurry focus reminiscent of classic B-movie Bigfoot footage.

The character set-up in the first half slows the pace a bit but the second half kicks it up with man vs. man vs. Yowie action.  I actually got a bit invested with the characters, because I started to really dislike them and was hoping for the Yowie to come out on top.  There were some moments that will make you chuckle, especially with Mad Max 2‘s Wells as the gnarly but kooky, obsessed ex-cop and Ring’s portrayal of the weasely Kent, but I would have liked some more tongue-in-cheek dialogue and a definitive tone since it morphed between a straight crime caper and horror comedy.

All in all, Bain created a fun low-budget B-movie that shows his love for the horror genre and burgeoning skill as a director.  If you haven’t seen it yet, never fear because this award-winning festival favorite is due for a DVD release in North America on July 21st.

check out the Throwback trailer:

http://www.travisbain.com.au/throwback.htm

http://www.facebook.com/throwbackmovie

His next project, Starspawn, described as “a sci-fi/horror thriller inspired by the films of John Carpenter and the works of cult horror author H.P. Lovecraft” has a Kickstarter campaign well under way.  Starring Vernon Wells once again, the plot revolves around a T.V. journalist who discovers evidence of an alien invasion while interviewing some outback survivalists.  If you would like to contribute, check out this link:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/starspawn/starspawn-an-hp-lovecraft-inspired-sci-fi-horror-f

http://www.facebook.com/starspawnmovie

Best of luck to Bain and his next feature!

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Wyrmwood TADFF 2014

Published November 9, 2014 by vfdpixie

wyrmwood

Wyrmwood (2014, 92 mins)

Australian films seemed to be a hit at this year’s TADFF with films like Housebound and the much-anticipated The Babadook, so when I heard about Wyrmwood, I was all in.  Described as Mad Max with zombies, I really couldn’t pass this one up, and I’m glad I didn’t.  It is definitely a different take on the post-apocalyptic zombie film, and one I think action movie fans will enjoy.

Similar to the aftermath of a falling star from the Book of Revelations, a weird stellar event creates zombies that run amok in the surrounding Australian countryside and cities.  Family man Barry (Jay Gallagher) has to scramble to save his wife and daughter, and after an urgent call, sets out on a quest to find his sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey). He meets up with other survivors, including the kooky Benny (Leon Burchill), in very tense circumstances, and they band together to battle zombies that emit strange green fumes and become more active at night.  They realize these zombies can be of great use, and their larger purpose is also being discovered by a dancing mad scientist played by Berryn Schwerdt, who has captured Brooke and uses her as a guinea pig.  Little does he know that Brooke will exceed his expectations.  Both siblings have their trials to deal with before they can ever think of reuniting, and things stay consistently hairy until the bitter end.

The After Dark team let the audience know that this film took a long time-several years actually-to finish, and the end result is a pretty crazy ride.  Mixed in with some brutal action and zombie kills, there are also some decent laughs to be had along the way, the most memorable punctuated by the literal Benny.  His goofy observations are backed with a lot of heart and heroics that make him unforgettable, and it is always nice to see some much-needed diversity in horror films.  And the kick-ass Brooke is one of the most unique final girls ever.  Talk about girl power, and she sports possibly the best smokey eye for zombie killing I have ever, ever seen!

brooke

I’m still a makeup artist at heart so here is Bianca Bradey as Brooke and her kick-ass smokey eye.

I only had one issue with the film.  I would have loved a back story about the mad scientist, billed as “The Doctor”.  He was one of the more compelling characters and I can’t resist a great bad guy.  I wondered if his home base lab came equipped with a disco ball or whether he was wearing a ruffled disco shirt under his haz-mat suit.  I call for a prequel starring The Doctor and the gorgeous Captain played by Luke McKenzie, who battles Barry in the film’s final act.

For the die-hard, jaded zombie movie fan, I think Wyrmwood will be a pleasant surprise.  It breaks convention with tons of action and an inventive storyline.  Definitely worth a watch!

*If you have a keen interest in Australian film, check out Curnblog.  There is a 5 part series listing the top 100 Australian films of all time, and it is excellent!

 

The Babadook TADFF 2014

Published October 29, 2014 by vfdpixie

babadook

The Babadook (2014, 1hr 33 mins)

I had read about The Babadook several months ago.  Drawn in by the strange name, I had to see what this indie Aussie horror, touted as one of the best horror films out this year, was about.  I was immediately intrigued by the trailer, and was ecstatic when I found out it was coming to the Toronto After Dark Film Festival as the closing gala film.  This fairytale nightmare was worthy of all the buzz and anticipation as it kept your gut in knots and will make you avoid your bookshelf for a while.

On the day of her son Samuel’s (Noah Wiseman) birth, Amelia (Essie Davis) loses her husband in a car crash.  Samuel, who is now 6, is a handful; his imagination runs wild with monsters he must battle, and he invents treacherous gizmos that creates problems at school.  His mother is a broken woman trying to keep her head above a sea of unrealized emotion, and gets no support from her sister.  One evening for a bedtime story, Samuel picks a book called The Babadook.  It has mysteriously appeared on his shelf, and it is a menacing tale that becomes too close for comfort, immediately scaring the living daylights out of Samuel and his mother.  What ensues is the unleashing of a supernatural force that stakes its claim on their home and their lives.

What draws you in to The Babadook is not the dollhouse-like sets or the moody lighting and midnight blue palette, but the performances.  Davis, with her fresh face and big eyes, played the hell out of her character who goes from distraught to a demonic transformation that will give you chills.  To be in abject terror for such a sustained amount of time deserves an award of some sort!  Wiseman sold the excitable, anxiety-laden Samuel who just wants happiness in his life really well, drawing out concern just as you were ready to write him off.

Writer and director Jennifer Kent uses the age-old fairy tale rule of a moral or warning in its most literal sense, in this case burying your fears and emotions that will eventually come back and bite, or stab you.  She has also made a visually engaging film.  From the simple household sets that conveyed a sad isolation, to the vintage silent film footage that haunts Amelia’s dream and waking life, Kent makes the indie into high art.  And the fact that our antagonist, The Babadook, is not treated like your regular demon/spirit fare elevates the monster to what I hope will be iconic status.  Also note the brilliant sound design that at times you could feel in your seat and made your skin crawl.

When this film comes out in a wider release, and I think with all its success it will, go see it.  You will get a kick out of some old-fashioned scares, harkening back to the spooky stories you remember as a child, and the unusual ending will leave you wondering what will happen to Amelia and Samuel.  Ba Ba Dook-Dook-Dook!

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