By: MADDI MCGILLVRAY
When one thinks of Australia they often picture the sun, beaches, and surfing.
But underneath it’s glossy veneer, there are horrors lurking in the outback: killer spiders, pythons that can eat basically anything, “drop bears”… and then there’s Mel Gibson.
It’s no wonder that Australia has become such a hotbed for horror stories. And while horror before the 1970’s was practically non-existent in Australia, the land down under has recently produced an onslaught of terrifying films that merge the philosophical brutality of the New French Extremity with the infamous psychopaths of American slashers.
Want to get a taste of what Australian horror has to offer? Here’s a list of my personal favourites to help get you started.
1. Wolf Creek (2005)
Without question, Wolf Creek should be the start of your Aussie horror watch list. It delivers some truly disturbing moments (you will be thinking about the “head on a stick” trick for days) and has birthed one of contemporary horror cinema’s most beloved villains: Mick Taylor.
2. Lake Mungo (2008)
When found footage is done right, it can really get under your skin. And that’s exactly what Lake Mungo achieves. Presented in a documentary format, Lake Mungo is one of the eeriest films to come out of Australia and is sure to make you take a closer look at your photos from now on.
3. Killing Ground (2016)
Killing Ground begins as three seemingly separate narratives that unfold in a nonlinear structure. But as the story comes together, the film subverts our expectations of what’s to come, and leaves the characters (and the viewer) stranded in a place where nobody is safe.
4. The Loved Ones (2009)
The Loved Ones might in fact be the best horror film to come out of Australia since Wolf Creek. It’s brutal, horrific, sad, and funny (sometimes all in the same scene) and features one of the best female villains horror has seen in recent years. You’ll never listen to Kasey Chambers’ “Not Pretty Enough” the same way again.
5. Black Water (2007)
We all know the dangers of Australia’s wildlife. And while there have been other giant killer crocodile films, Black Water’s realistic approach will have you hooked. The special effects are impressive, and for good reason – the film features real crocodiles and very little CGI.
6. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
While some might be hesitant to include this title in the horror genre, rest assured this haunting mystery is deeply unsettling. Considered one of the greatest Australian films of all time, director Peter Weir makes effective use of Australia’s foreboding landscape and creates a truly unnerving ending.
7. Hounds of Love (2016)
If there was one word to describe Hounds of Love it would be brutal. This directorial debut takes a step away from the outback and brings viewers into the suburbs. Be warned, Hounds of Love is a tough watch. But what’s interesting is just how much takes place off screen.
8. Razorback (1984)
You heard correctly, Razorback is about a human-eating killer pig. And it’s just as fun as it sounds. But aside from the film’s pure entertainment value, Razorback is also packed with some great terror-inducing moments.
9. Wyrmwood (2014)
Zombies meets the outback. That is the basic premise of Wyrmwood. But it’s also so much more than that. One of the most torrented films the in world, this genre bending film is a fresh contribution to zombie/apocalyptic horror – mixed with a touch of humour.
10. The Tunnel (2011)
Have you ever felt uneasy in train tunnels or subways? In this found footage film, a documentary crew ventures into the underground railway tunnels in Sydney in the hopes of uncovering the next big story. What they find is much bigger, and more frightening than anyone could have hoped for.
11. Snowtown (2011)
Based on the true story of the Snowtown murders (also known as the bodies-in-barrels murders), Justin Kurzel’s directorial debut is a bleak crime drama that tells the horrific story of one of Australia’s most notable serial killers. Daniel Henshall also makes a memorable big screen debut as John Bunting.
12. Road Games (1981)
Staring scream queen Jaime Lee Curtis, Road Games takes place exactly where you would expect it to: on a highway. The films follows a pair of hitchhikers who find themselves at the mercy of a psychopathic killer. Not only has it become a classic road movie, but Quentin Tarantino has even dubbed it as his favourite Ozploitation movie.
13. Bad Boy Bubby (1993)
Bad Boy Bubby is a film that starts strange and ends even stranger. It takes viewers on a journey through dark comedy, horrific torture, and perhaps even redemption. It might be hard to sit through at times, but we highly encourage you to make it to the end.
14. Patrick (1978)
While it is no Carrie (1976), Patrick offers another take on the telekinesis narrative, but from a male’s perspective. For someone who never speaks and spends basically the entire movie in an unresponsive coma, Patrick makes for an unusually interesting character with some malicious intentions.
15. The Babadook (2014)
Jennifer Kent’s directorial debut tells the story of a mother dealing with her troubled son who becomes obsessed with a terrifying children’s pop-up book. This psychological horror film is not afraid to address some of the aspects of motherhood that we are often afraid to confront and has gifted us with one terrifying (and perhaps queer) monster.