Long Weekend (1978)
By: Michelle R. on October 9, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Umbrella Entertainment (Australia). Region All Regions, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 92 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Colin Eggleston Starring: John Hargreaves, Briony Behets
Screenplay: Everett De Roche Music: Michael Carlos
Tagline: Their crime was against nature... Nature found them guilty.
Country: Australia
In a last-ditch attempt to patch up their differences, estranged married couple Peter (John Hargreaves) and Marcia (Briony Behets) set off on a camping trip to a remote, deserted beach locale. Tension and bickering is constant between the two and only worsens as they reach their destination. The unlikable couple are both arrogant, selfish types with a blatant disregard for the environment around them - consumed with their own problems, they carelessly scatter their rubbish, run over kangaroos and destroy birds' eggs. Doltish macho posturer Peter runs amok pointlessly chopping down trees and shooting wildlife. However, the pair will soon pay dearly for their ignorance when nature strikes back and formerly docile animals become aggressive…

Long Weekend is a strikingly filmed, capably acted and intelligent horror entry from Colin Eggleston (a change in pace for the director, who had previously filmed the softcore Fantasm Comes Again). Much of the disquieting, almost dreamlike atmosphere is provided by the locations and cinematography rather than cheap scares (though there a few minimal, dated effects). As time passes for the destructive protagonists, the sunny, picturesque beach setting, flourishing with flora and fauna, gradually becomes darker, moodier and more threatening.

Neither critically or commercially acclaimed upon its brief national theatrical release in 1978, Long Weekend achieved much greater success abroad, winning a plethora of awards at the Paris, Sitges and Auoriaz horror film festivals.
Video
Long Weekend is presented in a 16x9 widescreen transfer (the film was originally shot in anamorphic widescreen format, a rarity for pictures of this kind at the time). Shooting in this format enabled the filmmakers to capture some truly stunning landscape and wildlife photography on a limited ($270,000) budget. There is some slight grain and fading of the print in places, however this is minor and does not distract from the picture's overall decent quality.
Audio
Audio is available in a Dolby 2.0 track in which sound and music are at appropriate levels. The dialogue volume is slightly low at the beginning of the movie, but picks up later on. Special mention should be given to Michael Carlos' haunting soundtrack, which adds to the images and brooding atmosphere greatly.
Extra Features
An audio commentary featuring executive producer Richard Brennan and cinematographer Vincent Monton provides an excellent and entertaining insight into the making of this movie. Both men have vivid memories of the production and offer many amusing anecdotes of the cast and crew (the late John Hargreaves was buried with the Sitges acting award he received for his work in the film at his request!), as well as noting the various technical triumphs and mishaps during filming (Monton obtained a Panaglide camera – the world's first and only prototype of the Stedicam – from overseas for use for some of the more complex shots…and ended up accidentally breaking it!) They also assure us that no animals were actually harmed during filmmaking.

Other extras are the original theatrical trailer and an extensive stills gallery, which is accompanied by an 1995 audio interview of actor Hargreaves discussing acting for the screen, as well as the making of Long Weekend.
The Verdict
Long Weekend is a wonderfully offbeat and unsettling example of 1970s Australian horror, with an eerie, low-key atmosphere which slowly creeps up on the viewer as the movie progresses and Nature gears up for revenge. The relatively basic plot manages to send home its not-so-subtle underlying message clearly and serves up an ironically grim twist. A highly recommended and underrated homegrown genre offering.
Movie Score
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