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CREATURES OF OZ

For Australia Day 1998, ANDREW L. URBAN argues that we should not keep our imaginations in check - when we have the most exciting potential to realise our own, uniquely Australian films – Creatures of Oz!

Why can’t we Australians make one of those blockbuster creature features? Oh, I know we made Razorback, the wild boar that goes er . . . wild, but that was half a generation ago (1984). These days we’re making benign films about tame pigs (Babe), talking parrots (The Real Macaw), computer literate dogs (Paws) and pet roosters (Family Crackers). The Americans have monstered apes (Godzilla, King Kong), dinosaurs (Jurassic Park, Lost World), spiders (Arachnaphobia), bitches from space (Alien etc, plus the genre flicks), snakes (Anaconda) – and even mice (Mousehunt)! And the most obvious object of Australian phobia, the shark, got into the hands of an American – Spielberg, with Jaws. And the Brits boast of birds; indeed, the seminal work in the animals genre, came from Alfred Hitchcock: The Birds.

What do we do? Dot and the Kangaroo? Where’s the adrenalin? When we do animals, they go limp and cuddly and cute; like Napoleon, about a sickeningly sweet puppy! Or A Fistful of Flies. Very few flies! All they do is buzz about, and they’re not even integral to the story. It’s just a saying, the title, and an Italian one at that, so where’s the phobia, the fear, the loathing and the terror in that? Except for some critics who thought it was pretty loathsome, but not in that way.

We have funds for Women in Film, so we can surely have a Creature Feature Fund Creatures of Oz - specifically for the development of Australian monster movies. There is a vast herd of opportunities here, all unique and heartstoppingly dangerous. To get things going, Urban Cinefile is offering seed money (packet of scary seeds) to filmmakers who can develop imaginative and commercially viable movies from the following:

THE FLIES FILES
From suppressed Government files, a story from 1959: No flies have ever been so large, so sticky, so ANGRY! This is the story of a buzz of Australian backyard flies that makes The Birds seem like a nursery story. The flies live in a quiet Sydney suburb, feast on weekly barbecues and rendezvous around the garbage tins at noon to plan their revenge - they buzz, they hum, they sit silently, they fly at the speed of a jet, they cannot be swatted, they cannot be caught – they will not relent. How do ordinary, law-abiding Sydney householders negotiate with flies? Bryan Brown stars as laconic fly specialist.

ECHIDNA ACTION
A lost echidna stumbles into a leafy suburban backyard that looks innocent enough, but happens to be the property of a famous biogeneticist secretly experimenting at home with plant-bred hormones. . . the echidna has a snack - and whrooom. It begins to grow, spiking everything in its path. Only the antidote, which has to be injected somehow between its spikes, can stop this suburban terror! Rebecca Gibney stars as biogeneticist.

KILLEROO
A giant red ‘roo terrorises a desert community in the outback, having been radiated during secret military experiments. Oddest side effect is it can TALK! But it has a very broad Australian outback accent. When a Japanese tourist bus comes across it, the roo attacks and kills all but three and the whole world learns about it via the private video that one of the surviving tourists sells to Japanese TV. The fight is on between those who want it killed, and those who want to breed it for meat to export to third world countries. And then there is the military . . . Russell Crowe stars as General Kikass.

BLUE FLAME
An extraordinary genetic mix up has resulted (after many mutations) in a fabulous blue tongue lizard that is capable of breathing fire like an old fashioned dragon. Discovered in the most remote spot in Australia’s suburbs (Bundeena, Southern Sydney) science and showbiz compete for its attention. Meanwhile, it’s mother is getting really MAD . . . Sigrid Thornton stars as it’s mother.

KRAZY KOALA
A disturbed young koala escapes from Taronga Zoo and accidentally eats a discarded hamburger, which gives it a taste for meat. But then, short of a dollar for a Big Mac, it tries human flesh - and LOVES IT! Kylie Minogue stars as an animal psychologist who talks the koala to safety.

WHACKER WOMBAT
Abandoned as a pup, he grows up feral, stalking and whacking lone koalas, scratching billies on the boil at billabongs while the bushman's not looking, pees on camp fires and is feared around the traps for his but manages to elude capture. He becomes a legend, known as Whacker Wombat. One day, he holds up the mail van and his hero status grows. The only thing he fears are ants . . . Stars Max Cullen as Whacker Wombat (digitally enhanced).

We have Government support for a film industry to tell OUR stories: here are a few of them, so get on with it. If you have suggestions of your own, send them in (maximum 200 words please) to CREATURES OF OZ

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"Snake with attitude!"


"Hardly feral, never wild."


"Floppy paws"


"Hen just pecking!"


"Where are the flies?"


"No claws macaws?"


"A mouse that OWNS its house."


"None of your ‘sick ‘em!, Napoleon’s just sickly."


"Is this a killer?"







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