Monday, April 13, 2015

Long Weekend (Synapse Blu-ray) - Marriage, Animals, the Great and Powerful OZ(ploitation)

As much as I’ve enjoyed the Ozploitation classics that I’ve seen from the mid 70’s and 80’s, I’m afraid that I haven’t seen them all. In fact, I’d say my first real experiences with this subset of movies came about two years ago and in direct relation to the documentary Not Quite Hollywood that featured the films from the area somewhere in the vicinity of “down under”. That makes me a happy newbie, exploring much charted territory with fresh, Aussie hungry eyes. These features may have the common nexus in the region from which they were created, but the dark, daring and often exploitative elements of the film are just as common. The Ozploits are just a likely to make well groomed children the murderer as they are to make animals. Last year we saw Thirst and Patrick from Severin and just before that Australia After Dark and The ABC of Love and Sex: Australia Style from Intervision. Within the last year we also saw Lady Stay Dead hit from Code Red. It’s also important to note that the Turkey Shoot score was given a limited edition vinyl release just this year. With a new Mad Max coming and Dead End Drive-In on Netflix, it’s the perfect time to catch up with as much Oz-tainment as you can. Enter the new Synapse Blu-ray of Long Weekend and it's a shining of example of how this company creates a great product.

Long Weekend on Blu-ray is a treat. It is sharp in quality while maintaining a film-like presence that is respectful of the original print. While I have not be privy to a 35mm print of this feature, the color looks warm and rich with beautiful contrast and dark blacks. The film grain is appropriate and adds to the overall enjoyment of the picture. The cover art is a vast improvement on some of the DVD releases featuring a swatch of blood with animals lurking just overhead of our two weary protagonists of the picture. Synapse continues it’s trend of excellent packaging and transfers with this release which has me even more excited for the upcoming releases of Popcorn and Suspiria. The disc features an audio commentary from Producer Richard Brennan and Cinematographer Vincent Monton as well as a motion still gallery featuring an audio interview with John Hargreaves as well as the theatrical trailer.

The movie itself is a creeper featuring plenty to be scared of. From animals to unsettled humans there is a perfect tension that builds through the entire movie that has all the hallmarks of the some of the best psychological thrillers of the 70’s. As I watched the movie, I was worried less about the animal attack aspect of the picture and more about the “sound minds” of the protagonists. After reading the advertising and various accounts of the picture I found it strange that folks look at this as a nature vs. man film rather than primarily a metaphor for the inhumanity visited upon human beings by the false comfort of long term relationships. Don’t get me wrong. The animal vengeance is truly frightening, suspenseful and surprising, but the underlying tension of the film best comes from the conflict between husband and wife and not from the animals on the prowl. It’s a deeper truth about relationships, and it’s one that any married couple who have managed to stick it out can attest to. Just ask my wife about our trip to Disney World a couple years ago. We almost didn’t make it out of the Animal Kingdom alive (and no it wasn’t due to the safari).

Arachnophobes (I am one of your great numbers), there is a scene of a rather large spider running that pretty much kept me awake all night. Be forewarned. Also, I may never go surfing… EVER after a scene featuring a large shape in the water approaching the male lead. What’s funny is that it almost bothered me more than the same image in Jaws. I suppose you know what Jaws is…a shark; You don’t know what might be at the heels of our fearless friend. This is not a humorous film that shirks its scare responsibilities based on budget like Day of the Animals (more comedic than horrific). Think that loveable animal is going to let you catch and pet it? Nope! The attack sequences are superb and they come at you from every possible angle. Long Weekend takes every chance to create long periods of tension prior to whipping the proverbial towel straight at your ass.

Director Colin Eggleston has a background in television and directed Fantasm Comes Again (sequel to the Ozploitation movie Fantasm) with Long Weekend being a strong full length feature movie that didn’t necessarily win the admiration of critics out of the gate. In retrospect we can appreciate the subtle, multi dimensional horror picture that offers a window into some truth into our own psyche, how we interact with our loved ones and how we interact with the planet. Long Weekend is terrifying. It is paced well to reveal scares and moments of shock.

You can pick up Long Weekend from Synapse Films now:

Synopsis from Synapse:

Attempting to resurrect their failing marriage, Peter (John Hargreaves, THE ODD ANGRY SHOT) and Marcia (Briony Behets) set out on a camping trip to a deserted stretch of the Australian coastline hoping a long weekend in the sunshine will help them patch their differences. They are a careless couple, littering the countryside with garbage, shooting guns and even driving away after wounding a kangaroo with their automobile. Their callous disregard for the environment soon becomes apparent when the animals start to seek vengeance. Marcia and Peter have proven themselves to be destroyers of nature. Will the animals allow them to leave or will they too be destroyed?
  • High-Definition 1080p Transfer Supervised by Synapse Films
  • Re-mastered DTS HD-MA 5.1 Surround Soundtrack
  • Audio Commentary from Producer Richard Brennan and Cinematographer Vincent Monton
  • Motion Still Gallery Featuring an Audio Interview with Actor John Hargreaves
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

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