Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The release date might say that we’re in the bright and shiny new decade of the 1990s, but everything about Bloodmoon feels hungover from the ’80s in the most mortifying way. Not least of these things – indeed, arguably foremost among these things – it is a slasher film, plain and simple, and it took […]

It’s almost certainly just random noise and not real evidence of a greater trend, but as I spend these weeks diving into the thrillers and horror films of the Australian film industry, I’m finding a lot more dead children than I’d expect to see in a similarly arbitrary sampling of Hollywood horror films. And with […]

Of all the deadly animals on the Australian continent, none of them is more impressively terrifying than the massive saltwater crocodile, 20 feet of territorial ambush predator honed by nature to have the primordial look of some ancient devouring evil. And here we have what is, to the best of my knowledge, the earliest Australian […]

Given the incredible number of Australian animals that can kill a human in a variety of unpleasant ways, it’s absolutely no surprise that there are horror films about such creatures. The only surprise is that there aren’t more. As far as I can tell, the first killer animal film in the country’s history was 1978’s […]

The cumulative directorial career of New Zealand-born Tony Williams consists, near as I can tell, of one short film, seven made-for-TV documentary shorts, two narrative features, and (thirty years later than the rest), three documentary features. Of that entire list, the second feature, 1982’s Next of Kin, is the only thing that is even remotely […]

Upon its release in the summer of 1981, Roadgames, the second (and final) collaboration of director Richard Franklin and writer Everette De Roche after 1978’s Patrick, became the most expensive Australian film ever made up to that point (a title it would hold only for a few weeks, until the opening of Gallipoli). That is, […]

The Ozploitation cycle of the ’70s and ’80s was one of several exploitation film booms during that period, and like most of them, it was focused on genre films that could be made quickly and cheaply. This is, indeed, baked into the idea of “exploitation cinema”, which is all about identifying profitable trends and hungry […]

We come now to an exciting moment: the first appearance on this site (but by no means the last) of two of the most significant names in Australian horror around the end of the ’70s and the beginning of the ’80s, director Richard Franklin and screenwriter Everett De Roche, whose names are attached to some […]

Given the way I’m framing this summer’s marathon of horror movies, it’s hard to resist the temptation to speculate about the “Australianness” of these films, how their peculiarities reveal something about the cultural character of that continent and its film production. The fact that I don’t really know all that much about Australian culture puts […]

Regrettably, this is not the space for a condensed history of the entire Australian film industry prior to 1970. Suffice it to say that the country was a major producer of films through about 1913, including The Story of the Kelly Gang in 1906, generally agreed to be the first feature-length film. After this point, […]

Fred Zinnemann is the epitome of a certain kind of film director. He was a workhorse – not a hack, not somebody who’d just show up and do the job in the most uninspired way, but somebody who still did obviously view it as a job. There’s nothing flashy in a Zinnemann film, but they’re […]

Any film as enervating as The Nightingale must be doing something right: it is one of the most upsetting, unpleasant, grueling films I have watched all year, and this is not something that happens without effort. If you consider (as I do) that the first mission of art is to trigger an emotional response in […]