ORBzine - 21st Century Oz-ploitation Movie Reviews


100 Bloody Acres (2012)

100 Bloody Acres The story concerns a pair of brothers who live on a remote farm in Australia. Their family business is manufacture and sale of organic fertiliser. They started by collecting road-kill, and then by taking human corpses killed in road traffic accidents. Of course, it is only a matter of time before they target living humans.

A trio of tweenagers hitch a lift with one of the brothers. They discover what he is up to, and things spiral out of control. There is no whodunnit element, and no hockey-mask to cover the killers' faces. Instead there is more of a torture-porn element as the victims are tied up and try to escape before they get mulched.

Australia's home-grown film industry seems trapped in the 1970s. Ironic, since that was the decade that it was kick-started by Picnic at Hanging Rock . These days their main product is the crime thriller, while supernatural horror is extremely rare. This movie adds an element of very dark humour to the mix. For example, the police sergeant who pops up is played by John Jarratt, best known for playing a more serious serial killer in Wolf Creek .

Better Watch Out (2016)

Better Watch Out (2016) This is set in the USA, but filmed in Australia. This explains the film-makers' ability to out-do American genre expectations For example, this is not set in a remote Cabin in the Woods but in nice comfy middle-class suburbia. And never has the suburbs looked so bleak and isolated.

Patrick Warburton ( The Tick ) and Virgina Madsen go to an Xmas party, and leave a babysitter in charge of their young son. Unfortunately the babysitter finds herself besieged by armed intruders.

This might be called a more grown-up version of Home Alone . However, the leader of the villains is a criminal mastermind who deserves a place in the pantheon of horror movie villains. He is far scarier than the generic Freddy and Jason clones who proliferate the genre.

Black Water (2007)

Black Water (2007) A pregnant woman goes on a road trip with her boyfriend and her sister. They visit a crocodile farm, and then take a fishing trip on the big river. Predictably things take a turn for the worse, and they end up trapped in a tree by a man-eating salt-water crocodile.

It is a relief to see something that is not about the usual five archetypal teenagers. The dynamic is a lot different from what we are used to. Each character has their own ideas on how to proceed, but they need to convince the others on the merits of their plan.

The crocodile has an unusual feeding pattern, and chooses to menace the humans rather than just feed or move on. All standard stuff in a suspense film like this, where jeopardy must be ever-present.

Crawl (2011)

Crawl A middle-aged Croatian hitman arrives in a remote town in Australia. He does his job, gets paid ... and inexplicably goes on a kill-crazy rampage. He targets a waitress, taking out several other people into the bargain. All in all, this is not a morality tale.

As slasher films go, this is typically Australian. It lacks the Hollywood trappings (hockey mask, chainsaw) and instead is more like an amped-up crime thriller.

The Dressmaker (2015)

The Dressmaker (2015) Tilly Dunnage ( Kate Winslet ) returns to her birthplace in the Australian outback. It is the year 1951, and she was taken from there twenty-five years earlier as a child while suspected of involvement in the death of a young boy. It turns out that the boy was a bully, but there is a lot more to it than that.

Tilly moves in with her mother, Molly ( Judy Davis ), a bitter and possibly senile old woman. Luckily Tilly has a friend in the shape of the the local policeman, Sergeant Farrat (Hugo Weaving - Lord Of The Rings ). He is a fan of French fashions, and Tilly has become an expert dressmaker, so this is more like Weaving's role in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert than his one in The Matrix .

Tilly's other ally is Teddy McSwiney (Liam Hemsworth - Thor ), her potential love interest. He plays an important part in the Second Act.

Unfortunately this movie has a Third Act tagged on. Although the film is based on a novel, it seems that the genre shifts at the end of the Second Act.

The Dry (2021)

The Dry (2021) A police detective (Eric Bana - Hulk ) returns to his birthplace in the Australian outback. He was taken from there twenty years earlier as a child while suspected of involvement in the death of a girl.

High Ground (2020)

High Ground (2020) The story starts when the peace of an aboriginal village, circa 1900CE, is interrupted by the arrival of a couple of fugitives. Travis (Simon Baker - Ring Two (2005) ) and Eddy, (Callum Mulvey - Till Death (2021) ) are police officers leading a posse in pursuit of those fugitives. It all goes horribly wrong, and there are only four survivors. Three white men return home, while a young Aboriginal boy is left in the care of a missionary's sister, Claire ( Caren Pistorius ).

Twelve years later, the Aborigines are on the warpath for revenge. They do not care that one of their own started it, nor that the most trigger-happy white men died in the battle. The white cops are shown as being even more villainous, covering up for the alleged misdeeds of their own men. They seem intent on killing any witnesses, although the missionary preacher saw everything and is never killed or even questioned.

Travis is sent into the bush to catch the leader of the Aborigine war party. The Aboriginal boy, now a young man, is sent along as a guide. The cop something of a White Saviour, like the title character of Quigley Down Under . After all, they are both snipers who use their sharp-shooter skills to protect Aborigines. The difference is that Travis teaches his aboriginal sidekick, which empowers the younger man to follow his own path.

This is a drama rather than a thriller, so there is no clear-cut villain. That said, it is quite predictable and the ending is unsurprising.

Horseman, The (2008)

Horseman, The This is an Australian rape-and-revenge film. A junkie slut overdoses, and the cops tell her dad all the gory details. Then he discovers she was a porn-star, so he decides to murder everyone who had sex with her. This is quite a list!

For the sake of moral ambiguity, in the third act of the film he runs into some real bad guys. Yes, it was not porn or sex that killed her, it was the drugs. So the real villain is a drug-dealer, with a gang of thugs and a penchant for making snuff movies.

Inhuman Resources AKA Redd Inc (2012)

Inhuman Resources (AKA Redd Inc) A man is convicted of being a serial killer, and sentanced to a mental hospital. He is experimented on, but the hospital mysteriously burns down ...

Six months later, the witnesses who testified against him are abducted and forced to live out office-themed Torture porn. The man wants them to prove his innocence. For every minor indiscretion, he cuts a scar into their forehead with his hook-hand. On the fifth strike, he cuts it across their throat!

Killing Ground (2016)

Killing Ground (2016) An Australian couple go camping at the beach where they discover an abandoned tent. Basically it starts like Long Weekend , with Harriet Dwyer instead of Briony Behets .

As the couple's investigations proceed, their story is intercut with that of the family which pitched the tent at the camping spot a couple of days earlier. Eventually we discover that the local thugs had something to do with the disappearances. Well, modern Australian horror movies are basically crime thrillers instead of traditional supernatural suspense films. Anyway, it looks like the tweenagers will solve the mystery the hard way.

Loved Ones, The (2009)

Loved Ones, The This is an Australian effort, best described as Carrie meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre . Yes, an outcast girl ( Robin McLeavy ) wants to be Prom Queen so she and her crazy dad kidnap and torture the Prom King (Xavier Samuel - Road Train ).

Outback (2019)

Outback (2019) This is about a pair of twenty-something Americans who visit Australia, get lost in the Outback, and suffer the consequences. An all too familiar tale. This one seems to be based on a true story. The couple rely on GPS navigation, with minimal planning and no form of backup. What could possibly go wrong?

Unlike Wolf Creek there is no serial killer to blame for everything. Without external conflict, there is merely the drama generated from internal conflict. In this case the source of the drama is easy to locate. The man is the one who makes all the bad decisions, dragging his helpless girlfriend along with him as he transgresses against the laws of common sense.

Pimped (2018)

Pimped (2018) A mentally unstable woman ( Ella Scott Lynch ) has a one night stand with Benedict Samuel ( Gotham ). This descends into sexual exploitation with murderous results.

Rabbit (2017)

Rabbit (2017) A young woman gets a psychic premonition that her twin sister is in lethal jeopardy, so she takes the next plane and comes to the rescue. If this sounds familiar, that is because Natalie Dormer did the same thing a few years previously. Of course, the Dormer film was about an English girl in Japan while this one is about an Australian in her own country, so it is a bit less ambitious in its scope.

The Final Girl goes on a road trip with her sister's BF and the police officer assigned to the case, who has taken time off from his day job in order to help. They follow the trail to a caravan park, where the inhabitants are so creepy they would be expelled from Twin Peaks .

Things get creepier still, when the action shifts to a clinic straight out of A Cure For Wellness .

Road Train AKA Road Kill (2009)

Road Train (AKA Road Kill) Four Tweenagers (including Xavier Samuel from The Loved Ones ) are on a camping trip in the Australian outback. They get run off the road by a Road Train - a massive HGV with multiple cargo containers. Mysteriously, the HGV waits for them to get on, and then they try to drive it to safety. But spooky goings-on begin. Craig (Bob Morley - The 100 ) begins to show signs of psychosis ...

The plot seems identical to a George Kennedy film set aboard a mysterious ship. The only updates are that it is set on dry land (for a much lower budget) and the cast are all Tweenagers (to make it a cliched mainstream horror flick). Also, like most Australian efforts the supernatural aspect is played down. Their home market prefers crime stories, and thus their horror efforts like the supernatural underpinning.

Probably the most interesting fact about this film is that Sophie Lowe played Alice in Once Upon A Time in Wonderland , while her co-star Georgina Haig later played Elsa in Once Upon A Time .

Rogue (2007)

Rogue (2007) An American travel writer (Michael Vartan - Alias ) goes on a boat tour up a river in the Kokodo National Park, in the Northern Territory of Australia. Despite the best efforts of tour guide Radha Mitchell , the boat runs aground on an island and the tourists are picked off one at a time by a massive twenty-foot salt-water crocodile.

The passengers include John Jarrett ( Wolf Creek ) and Mia Wasikowska . The guide's boyfriend (Sam Worthington - Clash of the Titans (2010) ) also drops by in his own boat. Yes, there are even more Aussie stars-to-be in this film than in the average episode of Neighbours.

The early kill scenes are very lacklustre, with nothing much shown on-screen. This is quite disappointing, even if it means the dodgy CGI is kept to a minimum. However, the director was just saving the good stuff for the second half.

See No Evil (2006)

See No Evil (2006) A cop encounters a serial killer - a bald-headed wrestler. They both end up injured - the cop loses a hand, and the killer gets a bullet in the brain.

The crippled cop ends up as a prison warder in a teenage detention centre. He is put in charge of a work detail consisting of a photogenic group of teenage delinquents who appear to have been selected to be equally representative of race and gender.

The work detail are sent to clean up an old hotel. Unfortunately, and predictably, the monsterous killer starts to bump them off one at a time.

The most interesting thing about this film is that it was filmed in Queensland, Australia. This is apparently so successful that there is a sequel, directed by up-and-comers the Soska Sisters .

See No Evil 2 (2014)

See No Evil 2 (2014) The original was filmed in Queensland, Australia. This sequel, directed by up-and-comers the Soska Sisters , has a lot of Canadians in the cast so it may have been shot in North America. The directors have their Hitchcock moment in the opening credits, posing as a pair of corpses on autopsy slabs as their own names are on-screen.

After the events of the first film, the body of the serial killer is taken to the morgue. The place is meant to be closed down for the night, but Final Girl Amy Danielle Harris decides to stay and help out rather than go celebrate her birthday. Instead her BFF Tamara ( Katharine Isabelle ) holds the party in the morgue with all their tweenage friends.

The slasher character archetypes from Cabin In The Woods are all represented, with a slight twist. The Scholar (Michael Eklund - Wynonna Earp ) is in a wheelchair, the Athlete (Greyston Holt - Bitten ) is the heroine's pushy brother, and there is even a spare slut ( Chelan Simmons ). What really makes the movie unique is that we actually start to care about some of the characters. They are almost likeable, as opposed to the usual expendable fodder in slasher movies. The kill scenes are also impressive, a more realistic portrayal of violence than in a by-the-books effort.

Tamara decides to have sex in the morgue room, where the killer's body is stored. Unfortunately her performance is loud enough to wake the dead. The others later upbraid her, in what would get a male director accused of slut-shaming. However, the killer is the real slut-shamer, since his mother was an abusive puritan who makes Mama in Carrie look like parent-of-the-year. This plays into the trope of the medieval morality play, where the tweenagers are punished for having pre-marital sex. However, the killer turns out to be equal-opportunities and will kill just about anyone if he gets the chance.

Sky Pirates (1986)

Sky Pirates This is an Australian film from 1985. Predictably it is low-budget, and rips off Hollywood movies like Raiders of Lost Ark and Dirty Harry.

In August 1945, the hero (a RAAF Flight Lieutenant, their best pilot) takes a secret cargo to Bora Bora.

Because of their Villainous boss, the hero and a babe go on a quest. They must retrieve a Mystical Artefact (like Indiana Jones).

Storm Warning (2007)

Storm Warning An Australian man and his young French wife go boating. But they end up ashore in the Australian equivalent of Deliverance territory.

The main hillbilly is David Lyons ( The Cape ), who manages to be a much scarier villain here than he ever was in Revolution .

Tracker (2010)

Tracker (2010) This is set in New Zealand, but it is listed among the Oz-sploitation movies because it is in the same general category as films like High Ground (2020) insofar as it covers relations between colonials and natives in the Edwardian era. It is easier for the colonials to blame the historically far-off British Empire for any mis-deeds done to the natives than it is to address modern-day racism.

A Maori man (Temuera Morrison - Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones ) is accused of murder, so the Empire sends a posse after him. A Boer (Ray Winstone - Robin of Sherwood ), an expert tracker now reduced to being a manhunter, reluctantly takes the case. Yes, Boba Fett is on the wrong end of a Bounty Hunter case!