Featuring everything from ballroom dancers to psychotic


Featuring everything from ballroom dancers to psychotic
Featuring everything from ballroom dancers to psychotic neo-Nazis, flick fanatic XAV JUDD
presents the 10 Australian films you should see while Down Under...
f you thought the Australian film
industry started and finished with
Crocodile Dundee, Hugh Jackman’s
chest hair and Nicole Kidman’s make-up
box, then you couldn’t be more wrong.
Although the Aussies don’t have the big
budget of Hollywood or produce as many
movies as its Indian equivalent, they’ve
definitely churned out several rip-roaring
pictures over the years. Indeed, in 1906,
the first full length feature, The Story of
the Ned Kelly Gang, was actually shot on
these shores. Here, I select my 10 fave
flicks from Down Under.
Director: Nic Roeg
Locations: Alice Springs and
Arnhem Land (NT)
The pitch: I wish somebody would
have told these poor buggers that the
Never Never isn’t the best place to get
marooned. Strewth! Nonetheless, that’s
what happens to a school girl (Jenny
Agutter) and her little brother (Lucien
John), when their father goes bananas
and tries to shoot them before killing
himself. Will these two Sydneysiders
have the knack to survive in a place so
hot that I once tried to fry an egg on
my butt cheeks there? Thankfully, help
is at hand for this pair of greenhorns, as
an Aboriginal teenager materialises out
of nowhere like a mirage. The shifting
colours and harshness of the outback
have never been more visceral than in
Roeg’s minimalist masterpiece.
Director: Greg Mclean
Locations: Barossa Valley
(SA), Flinders Ranges (SA),,
Wolfe Creek (WA) and more
The pitch: I hid behind the couch then
chundered when I saw Bambi, so what
was I doing watching this mesmerising
horror? Unsettling almost from the very
start, three young backpackers journey
towards Western Australia’s atmospheric
Wolfe Creek where they bump into the
ultimate schitzo redneck. No, not George
Bush down at the barbie; their nemesis
is the Crocodile Dundee-like Mick Taylor
(John Jarratt). Obviously none of them
have seen a scary movie, as they accept
an offer to repair their car from this
ABOUT THE WRITER... Known back in London as
a wannabe clone of tennis ace Björn Borg, XAV JUDD’S
never hesitated to show anyone who’ll watch his dainty
ball toss or canny backhander. Although Sweden is his
über-destination (and his new home), this freelance journo
was last seen roaming around the Scottish Highlands.
hideous bushwhacker. Duh! And in no
time at all he gets out his big one: first
a booming gun and then a huge bowie
knife are used to terrorise the strangers
as they are tracked and then mutilated.
Disturbingly, this picture is partly based on
the real-life 2001 murder of Peter Falconio
and the assault of his girlfriend Joanne
Lees by Bradley John Murdoch, as well as
being loosely inspired by the Backpacker
Killer Ivan Milat, who murdered seven
travellers in New South Wales during
the 90s.
WARRIOR (1981)
Director: George Millerr
Locations: Broken Hill
and Silverton (NSW)
The pitch: These days, with every fresh
outburst he makes, Mel Gibson really does
appear to have lost all of his marbles.
However, there was a time when such
wanton rage and insanity was called for,
because he starred as one of the coolest
anti-heroes ever depicted on celluloid,
in Mad Max. Although three films were
made, it’s in PARTTWO that Miller’s creation
really comes into his own by helping a
community of settlers fend off a roaming
bunch of marauders. And, boy, Gibson
certainly has his work cut out for him,
as some of his foes have bigger hair than
Tina Turner and she’s not even in this
one! Such a quest leads him to rediscover
his humanity, as beforehand the ‘Road
Warrior’ had seemed to be just a lost soul
in the post-apocalyptic world where his
family had been slaughtered.
Director: Fred Schepisi
Locations: Armidale, Bundarra,
Melbourne and more
The pitch: Adapted faithfully from the
novel of the same name, itself inspired by
a true story, Schepisi’s thought-provoking
drama chronicles the life of Jimmie.
Half-Aborigine and half-Caucasian, this
young man is brought up by a caring
Methodist minister around the turn of
the 20th Century. Nonetheless, in a
powerful indictment of the way Australia’s
indigenous people were treated, the lead
character’s mixed identity means that
neither of the ethnic groups he belongs
to will accept him. After Jimmie marries
a white woman who it is believed is
pregnant with his child, the racism he
experiences causes one of the most
shocking explosions of violence ever
witnessed on the silver screen.
STOMPER (1992)
Director: Geoffrey Wright
Locations: Footscray and
Newport (Vic)
The pitch: Maybe they had a dodgy Pho
because Hando (Russell Crowe), Davy
(Daniel Pollock) and the other neo-Nazis in
the gang they lead are defo hot under the
collar about something. Indeed, fearing
racial impurity, they unashamedly take
out their antipathy on the Vietnamese
community who share the same blue-collar
suburb of Melbourne with them. Come on
fellas, surely the food wasn’t that bad! The
streets rock with violence when the local
Asians fight back – no Bruce Lee jokes
please. Eventually, the skinheads’ world of
hatred begins to crumble, when their two
top dogs both develop feelings for a rich,
formerly sexually abused druggie called
different reasons, in Peter Weir’s First
World War epic. They form a close bond
by the time they are transported to Turkey,
where they are to be part of a suicidal
assault on that country’s fortified coastline
(the Nek). Callousness, determination and
unimaginable sacrifice are all on display, as
the bravest of the brave are cut down by
the cold hail of steel.
THE DISH (2000)
Director: Rob Stitch
Locations: Canberra,
Forbes and Parkes (NSW))
The pitch: If somebody
told you that Australia played a small
part in the original moon landings, you’d
probably think they were a few raisins
short of a fruitcake. However, back in
1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz
Aldrin’s feet were getting all jiggy with the
lunar surface, NSW’s Parkes Observatory
was relaying the live events to earth. This
film tells a fictional account of that story.
In fact, the eponymous saucer-shaped dish
which is actually a radio telescope looks
like it could bugger off into space itself.
WEDDING (1994)
Director: PJ Hogan
Locations: Coolangatta,
Surfers Paradise and Sydney
The pitch: The last time
someone uttered the immortal catch
phrase from this film “you’re terrible,
Muriel” to me, it was because I’d got my
most sensitive piece of equipment stuck
somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine.
As a female, the main protagonist in
this movie doesn’t have such a problem.
Instead, because she is a plump unloved
‘ugly duckling’ her only goal is to escape
from the humdrum, suburban milieu
of Porpoise Spit and get married. Thus
spurred on by a love of ABBA, Muriel
heads for the bright lights of Sydney. But
will she meet her “Super Trouper” and say,
“I do, I do, I do, I do (and even another –
isn’t that overkill?) I do”, or is she destined
to follow in my footsteps and get so
depressed that she comfort eats a whole
Christmas turkey?
Director: Peter Weir
Locations: Beltana, Lake Torrens, Port
Lincoln (all SA) and more
The pitch: If ever a battle shaped the
birth of a nation, then in Australia’s case
it was Gallipoli. Archie Hamilton (Mark
Lee) and Frank Dunne (Mel Gibson) are
two talented sprinters from rural Western
Australia who join the Light Horse for
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Locations: Marrickville
The pitch: There’s more
cheese in this film than
you’d find at a Dutch
supermarket, but fortunately
it’s not in the main protagonist’s (Scott
Hastings) hair. Instead his nifty bouffant
makes do with wads of gel and spray as
he tries to breakdown the stereotypes
about ballroom dancing without breaking
his partner’s foot. Set in Melbourne in the
1950s, this romantic comedy follows our
wannabe John Travolta in his attempt to
win the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix Dancing
Championship. But, not content with just
trying to come first, he wants to do it in
his own style. So, it’s no surprise that he’s
got more moves than a crab on ecstasy
as he tries to outwit his nemesis, the
Australian Dancing Federation chairman,
Barry Fife (Bill Hunter).
Director: Peter Faiman
Locations: McKinlay (Qld) and Kakadu (NT)
The pitch: Okay, I’ve left it until last, but
maybe the guy with weirder outfits than
Darth Vader or Michael Jackson did more
than any other character to resurrect the
Australian film industry. Coming out in
1986, Paul Hogan’s Mick Dundee is such
a renowned bushwhacker that New York’s
Newsday feature writer Sue Charlton
(Linda Kozlowski) travels to the outback
so that he can whack her bush. Well, not
straight away. First of all she gets some
titbits for a story as he displays skills such
as whispering to a buffalo – I prefer eating
them in burgers myself. Later, as their
romance blossoms in the Big Apple, the
Antipodes’ zaniest adventurer is as outof-his-depth as a pope
mobile in a grand prix,
which makes for some
The rest
is history,
as this film
went on to be
the number
one feature at
that year’s box