In a day and age where mainstream film fare seems to only be given a theater pass if it’s got a couple of big name stars attached, it’s refreshing to hear that the financiers of the new Aussie horror-comedy “100 Bloody Acres” weren’t so much concerned about the cast, as they were the story.
“The financing was already on the table”, Colin Cairnes, who co-wrote and co-directed the grisly laffer with brother Cameron, says. “It was actually the genius of the script that got us the financing. In fact, the only actor that was attached at the time was John Jarratt, I believe. He was first onboard. They simply loved the story.”
While having established actors like Jarratt and leads Damon Herriman and Angus Sampson in its cast definitely helped the finished product, it’s the brothers quirky, refreshingly original libretto that got the film to the starting line.
“Obviously, [the producers] were capable we could do this, having seen some of our short films, but the writing won them over.”
The film tells of three kids who break down on their way to a country musical festival, and cross paths with a couple of screw loose yokels who run their fertilizer business on mashed-up ‘road kill’.
America served as somewhat of a guinea pig for the film, opening there several weeks earlier than back home.
The brothers aren’t afraid to admit the decision was a risky one.
Being that it’s set in the Australian bush and is dressed with thick Aussie accents, not to mention crammed with cultural references, they didn’t know how the film would play outside of the country. Much to their surprise, the film has been a resounding success in the United States – chalking up better notices than most mainstream horror films released in the past twelve months.
“It’s a very Australian film”, admits Cameron, “there’s some specific cultural references in there that only Aussies will get. It plays a bit like a foreign film – or something exotic – over there. One journalist asked us after a screening whether picking up road-kill is someone we Aussies tend to do a lot; he was completely serious. But you know what? It still works for them; I think they just get wrapped up in the story, and the characters. It doesn’t matter if they don’t understand some of what’s being said, or some of the references, it again comes down to whether the story itself is engaging.”
The filmmakers were in the states for about a week to promote the movie, and were truly astonished by some of the responses they got from not only audiences but critics.
“The reviews just blew us away”, says Cameron, “It was surreal. We couldn’t have written those reviews better ourselves.”
As fans of ’70s horror, the brothers wrote a movie their younger selves would’ve rushed to rent on VHS back in the old days.
“We wanted to write a movie like the greats that came out of the American indy horror circuit in the late ’70s”, explains Colin, referencing “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” as a high-point of the genre. “We always knew it was going to be about young adults in the outback in peril. Because we were essentially only writing it for ourselves, not knowing where it’d go, we just took our time and kept adding to it. It evolved as we went on, which explains some of the twists and turns in it, and of course the comedy that we would inject into it. “
Though the characters were on the page, Cameron says they couldn’t have got luckier in terms of their cast.
“They all brought their A-Game; they all brought something special to their roles.”
An overlooked ‘star’ of the film will likely be retired Melbourne radio announcer Ward Everaardt, of Magic 693, who plays the often-heard DJ in the film’s local station.
“We use to listen to Ward, whenever we’d get out of town to write or just be driving around or whatever. There’s a timelessness to Magic”, explains Colin, “And so we just asked him if he wanted to do it… and he was really excited about it. He was so enthused about it that shortly after meeting, he went off and did some test recordings and everything.”
The jingles heard on the radio station were crafted by the brothers themselves.
“We came up with those when we had a lot of time on our hands before the shoot”, Colin laughs.
The brothers aren’t stupid, they know it’s hard to get punters to spend their money on seeing Aussie films, but they’re also confident they’ve a good product here – one that will develop a loyal following.
“It’s hard to get people to see Australian films, because some of the more recent ones haven’t really done that well. But the marketers have done a great job on this, and we believe we’ve got a good film, so here’s hoping people check it out. There will be some people that don’t discover it now – that maybe discover it later – and that’s OK too, because we feel it is a film that has got legs, and will get a bigger and bigger audience as time goes on.”