Australia has made movies since the birth of film although there are large periods where American films dominated the box office over local productions, much as it is in most countries around the globe.
In the 1970s, Australia had a resurgence in locally produced movies. This rebirth dubbed “Australian New Wave” also came along with the birth of “Ozploitation” films, exploitation films that have a very Australian feel to them. A large number of horror films also emerged from this period and that tradition has carried on to present. The Cars That Ate Paris, Razorback, Dead Calm, Rogue, Wolf Creek, The Loved Ones and even the first Saw movie is just a small sample of the abundant offerings that Australian horror has to offer.
With all these films to choose from I decided to pick a film that isn’t quite a horror film but it does end up on several Australian horror movie lists. Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock is more of a creepy mystery / thriller / drama but it does leave the viewer with an unsettling feeling.
This 1975 classic is set in 1900 Australia on St. Valentine’s Day. A group of school girls at an exclusive school are allowed to go on a picnic at Hanging Rock. Everything seems seems nice and sunny. Then four of the girls go wandering around Hanging Rock. Only one makes it back but can’t explain what has happened. When everyone returns to the school, it’s revealed that one of the teachers is missing too. A search then begins for the missing girls.
Without giving away too much, people who go in to watch a story with a mystery and a solution will be sorely disappointed. As I said before, there is just something unsettling about the story. It’s kind of creepy and haunting. Anyone looking for something different from usual horror fare will be pleasantly surprised. If you want a more traditional scare-fest, there’s always Razorback, a movie about a giant killer wild pig from the director of Highlander.