Long Weekend (1975) BFI player

January 18th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Colin Eggleston | Writer: Everett De Roche  | Cast: Briony Behets, John Hargreaves | Horror | 97′

Long Weekend literally shouts 1978 in a garish aesthetic, tinkly soundtrack and flared trousered kind of way. But it could also be classed as an Avantgarde eco-thriller. Not up there with Wake in Fright but thrilling as Australian cult horror films go (and kangaroo kills are also included, not to mention glorious seascapes).

It sees a miserably unhappy couple head off for a doomed few days on the beach – or at least that’s the plan. Early on in the journey they hit a kangaroo who is dazed by the headlights, and this roadkill seems like a metaphor for the death of their love life. As they venture deeper and deeper into the outback, a supernatural element rears its head through strange exotic sounds in the forest. Come morning though things are looking more positive and they manage a pre-breakfast kiss on the idyllic seashore.

But the primeval forces of Nature are not far away (thanks to an eerie soundscape and a repetitive Hammond organ chord motif, set to vibrato). It feels like Nature will get them in the end, if they continue to catch fish, use insecticide and shoot every bird in sight – and these events are over-laden with symbolism, signalling  the impending doom. And to be fair, Peter gets his just desserts – he’s a pretty base individual who doesn’t seem to have much sympathy for his gorgeous girlfriend (a dazzling Briony Behets), or the local flora and fauna, which he destroys with alarming frequency (even by 1970s standards). Peter’s a latent misogynist (a brash John Hargreaves) and Marcia’s dislike of camping and loss of sex drive makes things unfeasible, particularly as she is depressed and mourning an unwanted abortion. They finally decide to hit the road after he gets bitten by a possum. But things go from bad to worse, and their conversation is scintillating: “You should have married your mother!” –  she says. He replie”but you’ve got better tits”.  Fun doesn’t even begin to cover to it!. MT

ON BFI PLAYER AND BLURAY at SECOND SIGHT films

 

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