Long Weekend (1977)
By: Griff on March 11, 2002  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Director: Colin Eggleston
Starring: John Hargreaves, Briony Behets
Screenplay: Everette De Roche
Country: Australia
An upper class couple, in a fumbled half-arsed attempt to relieve the stress from their shaky marriage, pack up their newly purchased camping gear, their dog Cricket, and go bush for the long weekend - stopping only to pick up a carton of Big Stubbies and run over the odd marsupial on the way. Even though the stubbies are indeed big enough to get even the most stoic of beer drinkers shitfaced after a few, its the kangaroo patty-making that proves to be their first step towards inevitable downfall in what will become a Humans vs. Nature showdown in this 70's Aussie thriller. Let's go to ring side.

After a bit of trouble finding the place, Peter (John Hargreaves) and Marcia (Briony Behets) set up camp on the fringe of a secluded picturesque ocean front. Its painfully obvious that Marcia is none to enthusiastic about the whole idea and the two go their separate ways for the better part of the day. He sinks piss and she sun bakes. He harasses the wildlife with his rifle and she absorbs a bit of raunchy literature. He goes surfing and she masturbates in the tent. Not exactly the type of recreational holiday they'd profile on TV's "Getaway" though perhaps they should.

All the while we get the feeling they're being watched. Much is made of their callous disregard for the environment as they toss their rubbish about, destroy the plant life and spray anything that festers with insect repellent. It isn't long before things start going wrong. The spear gun inexplicably goes off by itself, almost pinning Marcia to a tree and, horror of horrors, the frozen chook mysteriously goes rotten. But things don't end there. It soon becomes apparent that they've inadvertently pissed off the Kangaroo Creek Gang as the animals begin to seek vengeance the only way they know how: by making strange noises. Once they cotton on that they're not welcome, they attempt to leave. If only it were that easy.

Long Weekend is a nifty variation on the haunted house formula, substituting the eerie mansion with an impenetrable wilderness and nature itself plays the vengeful spirit that wishes to punish the uninvited perpetrators. It also manages to generate some genuine suspense and implement a few intriguing touches that enhance the feeling of escalating doom without going over the top. After Peter blasts the shit out of a dugong for making too much noise, its lifeless carcass seems to gravitate closer and closer to our unhappy campers every time they look around. The coolly devised fate of another bunch of holiday makers also prompts the question of what's in store for our clueless couple and serves as a grisly forewarning of the inevitable.

John Hargreaves plays the role of macho man well, his Aussie larrikinism melding effectively with a mean streak that emerges when at odds with Briony Behett's character. There's an interesting subplot involving an almost unspeakable dark deed in Marcia's past that serves more narrative purpose than one might initially suspect. But its near impossible to sympathize with her as she comes across as being a thoroughly unlikable hard bitch in need of a good beating. Not that I advocate that sort of thing, nor should you.

You've gotta wonder what business Tasmanian devils have in a flick that was filmed in the park reserves of New South Wales but then the film seems to be a deliberate showcase of Australia's native animals with a few notable exceptions. It does, however, feature the one example of natural fauna that surely must of been on the list of prerequisites for any film to receive finance from The Australian Film Commission in the Seventies. I'm talking about the female talent's boobs, which often grace the screen to further the narrative.

Director Colin Eggleston (Outback Vampires, Chopper Squad) gets some pretty good leverage out of Everette De Roche's (Patrick, Razorback) script and cinematographer Vincent Monton manages to pull off some nice moves. Unfortunately, his Panavision shot composition is raped by the video version due to the savage pan and scan process but I wouldn't bother holding your breath for a widescreen copy.

If you're keen on watching on a spooky variant of the nature-run-amok genre, without the oversized reptiles or genetically mutated insects, and semi-realistic characters that are neither know-it-all biologists or Sheriff's do-good daughters then look no further than Long Weekend. Its got thrills, chills and Big Stubby spills which just goes to show that the Aussies can do it just as good as anyone. Cheers.
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