Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Outback, or Thoughts on Wolf Creek

With apologies to Peter Weir and The Babadook (2014), Australia’s contributions to pop culture have mostly ranged from the sublime Nicole Kidman and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries to Crocodile Dundee, Mad Max Rockatansky, and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994).  To this varied and sometimes violent list we can now add Australia’s own Norman Bates/Michael Myers hybrid with Mick Taylor, the jovial serial killer who roams the lawless Outback, slaughtering kangaroos and backpackers with equal aplomb.
Written and Directed by Greg McLean, Wolf Creek (2005) stars John Jarrett from Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) as Mick Taylor.  The Outback is portrayed as equal parts breathtaking, panoramic scenery and those one-point perspective highways in scenes of infinite desert and of course, hostile locals to torment the free-spirited backpackers on a road trip to Wolf Creek National Park.  Cassandra Margrath, Kestie Morassi and Nathan Phillips portray Liz, Kristy and Ben, three amiable 20-somethings who experience car trouble in the Outback.  Fortunately, Mick Taylor seems to specialize in helping stranded motorists, and it’s not long before Liz wakes up zip tied in an abandoned mining town.
A mean spirited, guilty pleasure with Saw (2004)/Hostel (2005) levels of violence that audiences walked out on, but Mick Taylor is also a surprisingly likable serial killer.  He’s an uncouth, sadistic, truly horrible person, but thanks to John Jarrett’s natural charisma and star power audiences are on his side like he’s Freddie Kreuger.  And these are sympathetic victims, there’s particularly offensive about them and they certainly don’t deserve the Mick Taylor treatment.  The audience is torn; of course you want them to escape/fight back, but you’re also curious about what old Uncle Mick will do next.
A personification of the dangers of the wilderness, a bloody essay on civilization vs. chaos and a cautionary tale on what happens when you remove the rules and socialization, Wolf Creek strays into Walking Dead territory, full 5 years before rick found that tank in Atlanta, but without zombies.  Humans are their own worst enemy in this movie, and the only recourse is to stay away from the Outback.

John Jarret scored a cameo in Django Unchained (2012, you know QT must have loved this movie) before appearing in 100 Bloody Acres (2012) and making his directorial debut with StalkHer (2015).  The movie spawned a sequel, Wolf Creek 2 (2014) and a mini-series in 2016.  You can’t keep a bad man down, and Mick Taylor keeps on truckin’ down that long lonesome highway.


my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).