“Nature Found Them Guilty”: Revenge in Australian Exploitation Cinema

Date(s) - Thu. Jan. 19, 2017
7:00 pm GMT - 10:00 pm GMT

The Horse Hospital

Lindsay Hallam

£10 advance / £11 on the door / £8 concs

In the 1970s the Australian film industry underwent a boom that is still unprecedented to this day, experienced two-fold with a strain of respectable arthouse period dramas, and a bunch of down-and-dirty, violent and sexy exploitation films. This lecture will explore how Australian horror cinema of this period incorporates a subversive streak that critiques Australian history and culture through the theme of revenge. It is a theme that is prevalent throughout these films, in particular in the spate of eco-horror films, exemplified by the likes of Long Weekend (1978), and Razorback(1984), where nature itself, often in the form of a rampaging nonhuman animal, seeks to avenge the past exploitation and abuse perpetrated against the land and its native inhabitants.

As well as nature seeking revenge, the fight for survival against human or supernatural forces is also presented in films such as Wake in Fright (1971), The Cars That Ate Paris (1974), The Last Wave (1977) Patrick (1978), Roadgames (1981), and Fair Game (1986), and vengeance even comes from beyond the grave in Next of Kin (1982) and BeDevil (1993). Given that Australia’s colonial past is one that encompasses genocide of the indigenous population, mass animal extinction, environmental destruction, and the glorification of masculine ‘mateship’ that carries a nasty undercurrent of misogyny, this lecture will discuss how it is in these revenge narratives that the darker aspects of Australian national identity are explored and indicted. The class will further investigate how this fascination with revenge for past (and present) wrongs still continues in contemporary Australian genre cinema, in films such as Dying Breed (2006), The Horseman (2008), The Loved Ones (2009), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) and Red Christmas (2016).