Starring: John Hargreaves, Briony Behets
Director: Colin Eggleston
Distributor: Umbrella Entertainment, ScreenSound Australia
Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t Tasmanian Devils only found in Tassie? And aren’t dugongs restricted to Australia’s northern waters? The makers of Long Weekend, a film set just a ways up the coast from Melbourne (but in fact, shot near Bega in New South Wales), seem to have forgotten these simple realities. Never mind; this is more a crazed wildlife fest than a spooky horror flick. And to the filmmakers credit, the abundance of native fauna seems to have attributed to it’ finding a lucrative niche overseas which continues to crack and earn twenty seven years on.
Written by Everett de Roche, who also penned the thrillers Patrick, Roadgames and Razorback the story focuses on a young couple who head north with $2,000 worth of brand spanking new camping gear in an attempt to mend their disintegrating relationship. Marcia, played by Briony Behets (wife of the film’s director Colin Eggleston), is dubious about the adventure from the outset but trigger happy Peter (a spunky John Hargreaves) is hell bent on pitting his masculinity against nature, firstly by chopping down a tree for no other reason than that he can, then by shooting up the aforementioned dugong which, despite the resultant wounds, slides up the beach right into their campsite.
It all amounts to ecological vandalism and Marcia pitches in by spraying the entire campsite with poisonous insecticide. The tagline for the film reads; ‘their crime was against nature…nature found them guilty.’ Revenge is swift and comes in the form of an attack by a sea eagle, a possum and, in a sequence vaguely reminiscent of Hitchcock’s The Birds, a flock of ducks. Initially we presume that nature is striking back because of their general disregard for the bush but later, in a strangely moralistic turn, we discover that it’s because Marcia has had an abortion as a result of an adulterous affair.
On the back of the DVD cover there’s a picture of Marcia covered in blood with a fishing spear sticking out of her neck and we wait in anticipation for this image to unfold. Peter’s fate, on the other hand, is a real shock. John Hargreaves in his stubbies is really the best thing about Long Weekend yet it comes as a surprise to learn that he took out the award for Best Actor at the Sitges Horror Film Festival, beating Laurence Olivier in Dracula, Donald Pleasance in Halloween and Klaus Kinski in Nosferatu. Hargreaves was buried with the award at his own request and one wonders if he was having one last ludicrous laugh at the fluke that this film turned out to be.