Sunday, July 6, 2008

Australian Remake

As I was watching the trailer for the upcoming remake of Long Weekend - an Aussie enviro-thriller from 1979 being remade by Jamie Blanks (Urban Legend) and starring Jim Caviezel and Claudia "I'm Amazing!" Karvan - I realised that this movie is indeed prime for a remake. If you happen to have seen many Australian films, predominantly those from the 1970s and 1980s, you would have surely noticed that a lot of them share an aesthetic. A lot of them look like they were filmed on cheaper film stock and they are filled with an exaggerated sense of ockerism, meaning that a good percentage of characters will be the broad stereotypical type of mix of blue collar, quirkiness and larrakin. Not that that's a bad thing - you can certainly always tell when a film is Australian, that's for sure - but that sort of thing tends to make the films look more outdated than they are.

So, yes, as I was watching the trailer for Blanks' Long Weekend, very faithful it would appear, remake (trailer at the end of this entry) I did think that it was actually a very good film to remake. The original was directed by Colin Eggleston and starred John Hargreaves and Briony Behets as a couple on the verge of divorce, who go on a camping trip over a long weekend to try and save their marriage. However, not long after they start treating nature badly - shooting animals, littering, four wheel driving - nature starts to treat them just as bad in return. It was actually a pretty decent fright flick as those sort of things go, but I am thinking that a modern day remake could be both relevant and improve upon the original. I just hope Jamie Blanks keeps the film's biggest shock as it was. It's a doozy!

But, as I thought about this I started to think about what other Australian films could be ripe for a remake. Outside of Long Weekend, that odd TV movie version of On the Beach, Rod Hardy's vampire flick Thirst (set for 2010) and the recent remake of Dutch flick The Polish Bride in the form of Unfinished Sky, I'm having a hard time thinking of any Australian remakes. So I tried to think of five films that could be interesting to see redone.

Cyclone Tracy / Eureka Stockade

Perhaps not remakes per se of these 1986 and 1984 respective television movies, but just a retelling of the stories. One of the things that continues to baffle me to this very day about the Australian film industry is that we (he says as if he's "a part" of the industry himself and that he actually knows how to "fix" it) seem to reluctant to turn to major events in our history for inspiration. Television movies and miniseries have been doing it for ages, such as the Duigan/Noonan years, or more recent flicks like Murder in the Outback or Mary Bryant as well as these two from the '80s. Yet, when it comes to cinema, they by-and-large don't want to have a bar of it. Unless, of course, it has to do with Ned Kelly, in which case they're on it in a heartbeat.

The story of Cyclone Tracy, a natural disaster than hit the northern city of Darwin on Christmas Day 1974, is perfect fodder for this sort of thing. It amazes me to discover that another important historical moment in our history - the Eureka Stockade - has only ever been made into a 1907 silent film, a 1949 British movie and this 1984 television remake. This story cries out for big screen treatment, so where is it?


Okay, this movie from 1980 and directed by Simon Wincer is, for lack of a better word, awful. It's really not a good movie at all, but behind the garish nature of it, there lies the possibility of a wickedly fun paranormal film about a mysterious harlequin (er, magician) who uses his friendship with a prominent politician to his advantage. Get rid of that absurd infidelity plotline and there might be something. The role of Gregory could be a nice quasi-villain role for someone who's, ya know, not Robert Powell. Yikes.


Gillian Armstrong's 1982 original is an endearing, but at times frustrating and annoying trip through pre-Idol showbiz. It follows sprightly Jackie, played by Jo Kennedy, who dreams of being a huge singing superstar. To go about this her PR Agent/best friend Angus (who fills the pre-requisite weirdo sidekick that 1980s teen flicks always had) sets about getting her booked in all sorts of wacky gigs before eventually she secures a slot on a big Prime Time music spectacular. Or, I think that's how the plot went. It was very bizarre.

However, in this post-Idol world I think it could be nice to see a fun musical tale (yes, it's a musical "with a difference") redone, showing a young woman who actually works towards her dream instead of just applying for a reality program. They could even keep some (SOME!) of the songs - I quite like Kennedy's version of Split Enz's "Body and Soul" - but also write some more modern tracks.

They're a Weird Mob

Don't ask me how or why Michael Powell (of Powell & Pressburger) ended up directing this ethnic comedy, but that he did and, well, Australia loves their ethnic comedies for better or worse (I'm looking at you Nick Giannopoulis!) and I can't imagine a redoing of this popular flick (it broke records upon release) could do any worse than some of this country's recent "comedy" fare (I'm looking at You and Your Stupid Mate).

Fun Fact: The 1966 original opened on October 13. That's my birthday!

Turkey Shoot (aka Escape 2000)

One of things that the Australian industry did well was the ozploitation genre. Car chases, bloody violence, women with big tits casually losing their shirts. So, I don't know why nobody's had the idea to go retro and resurrect this genre. Brian Trenchard-Smith's Turkey Shoot is a classic of the genre, and it features an Apocalypse style setting, which Australian genre flicks loved for a while back then (think Mad Max, Dead End Drive-In, etc). Throw in some crazy car crashes and plenty of gratuitous nudity (why not throw in some male nudity for the sake of it?) and you'd have a ripsnorting time at the cinema that we just don't seem to want to make anymore.

And, yes, the 1982 original did star Olivia Hussey!

We of the Never Never
Just because!

Below you can find the trailer for Jamie Blank's remake of Long Weekend.

1 comment:

Joel said...

I would love to see Body Melt get remade!

The trailer looks interesting for Long Weekend, not what I expected at all. I wonder where they got the idea to use that Moby song over the beach footage...
While on the subject of Jamie Blanks, i caught his other film Storm Warning which came out on DVD a few weeks ago - not a bad little film!