Savage Australia

Savage Australia – Three Films of Ozploitation Importance

Focusing on three entries in horror cinema from savage Australia and spanning 1978-87, this article is an exploration of the subject material of the great Australian Ozplotitation movement.

Ranging from the most notable of films, this article focuses on the three Australian Productions Long Weekend, Fortress, and Dark Age.

Each tells a unique and very Australian tale of heartache and disaster within the unforgiving harshness of this sun-kissed country.

Long Weekend (1978)

Savage Australia - Long Weekend (2008)Long Weekend was made in 1978 and featured the tale of two rather clueless city dwellers, who take a trip to the outback. Whilst there the duo foolishly harm Mother Nature and her creatures, causing a chain reaction of evil that is unleashed upon them.

Savage Australia - Long Weekend (2008)Starring Briony Behets and John Hargreaves, Long Weekend is a wonderous examination of how the world would fight back from our polluting, and careless behavior damaging it. The two leads also returned in 2008 as consultants on the remake of Long Weekend– which this time starred Jim Caviezel and Claudia Karvan, and was directed by Jamie Blanks. Both versions were based on the screenplay by Everett De Roche, who also was also responsible for adapting the screenplay for Fortress in 1985.

Directed by Colin Eggleston, Long Weekend is a harrowing cautionary tale for all. What goes around truly comes around.

Savage Australia - Long Weekend (2008)With the changes within the cinema by 1985, to Australian animal horror, in the years following the Azaria Chamberlain case (known as the infamous “dingo ate my baby” disappearance at Uluru) films shifted towards more animal attacks, especially with the 1984 universally adored Razorback.
Savage Australia - Long Weekend (2008)

Dark Age (1987)

Savage Australia - Dark Age (1987)This is where in 1987 the film Dark Age found its niche, within the world of Aussie animal horror.

Dark Age features a young John Jarratt in the lead role (popularly recognized as the devilish murderer Mick Taylor in Greg McLean’s Wolf Creek franchise), as a ranger named Steve Harris.

Savage Australia - Dark Age (1987)This film revolved around a massive killer saltwater crocodile who cannot be killed due to local Aborigines consideration that crocs harbored the spirit of others. Harris must fight to protect the local community but also show immense respect to his indigenous locals claim of the land and its inhabitants too.

Dark Age is a clever, well-conceived film and quite positively incorporates the previous times’ political unrest towards the government’s claims over indigenous landmarks (and an infamous movement in the 1970s and 80s down under known as MABO– named after its pioneer Eddie Mabo).

Featuring indigenous actors David Gulpilil and Burnam Burnam, and based on the novel Numunwari by Graham Webb, Dark Age is a true blue Aussie film through and through.

Savage Australia - Dark Age (1987)

Fortress (1985)

On a more serious note, two years earlier Fortress had been released.
Savage Australia - Fortress (1985)
Based on another novel (of the same name by Gabriel Lord) about the kidnapping of a school teacher and six pupils (aged 5-10 years of age) from the Faraday School in Victoria, Australia on October 6th, 1972, by Edwin John Eastwood and Robert Clyde Boland. Fortress focuses on a dramatic retelling of what happened and adds a somewhat Lord of the Flies edge to it.

Savage Australia - Fortress (1985)Again the screenplay was penned by Everett De Roche (also responsible for writing screenplays for hugely popular Australian films such as Patrick, Storm Warning, Road Games, and Razorback) and this film has a balanced blending of reality and horror.

Arch Nicholson (who also directed Dark Age) had directed Fortress prior and assisted in directing Razorback, but sadly passed away in 1990 with only 6 directorial credits at the time.

The film itself has savage moments and is an emotionally well told, strong re-enactment of the events with a few additions. Like Dark Age and Long Weekend, the Australian climate and factors pull you into the story and increase the experience.
Savage Australia - Fortress (1985)
With three powerful films slowly rising as cult classics of the Ozploitation era, one must ask the general public to watch out for the savage truth behind Australia. With worldwide releases on DVD and BLURAY, it is now creeping globally through popularly fearsome films like Rogue, and the soon to be released Boar, House of Tortured Souls wants to know… are YOU ready to fend off the Aussie invasion?


Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles

Hailing from Sydney Australia and injecting a dose of Aussie Flavour to her reviews, Midi began her horror love in Birmingham England at a very young age and is always trying to find the next local or indie horror talent to share with the world.

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