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It’s Australia Day.

So here at Surgeons of Horror we thought that we would look across the years at the movies that helped shape the horror movie genre in our Southern Land.

So without further adieu, here’s our definitive list, let us know if you agree.

  1. Night of Fear (1973)
    Dubbed the first Australian film of the renaissance, (and closely resembling Texas Chain Saw Massacre in style, released another 2 years later) you can see why this movie is well respected among horror movie lovers.
  2. The Cars That Ate Paris (1974)
    The legendary director Peter Weir would debut with this fantastic comedy horror that he also wrote.
    Set in the fictional town of Paris where the towns inhabitants forage off the remains of car accidents, the movie has established something of a cult following.

  3. Long Weekend (1978)
    One of my favourites on this list and fittingly released on the year that I was born.
    Long Weekend wasn’t initially well received upon its initial release, but has a strong message from director Colin Eggleston, where nature fights back on a disrespectful couple.
    It has since been remade in 2008.

  4. Patrick (1978)
    The first of two films by Richard Franklin in our list, this science fiction horror is often cited by fans of the genre.
    Part of the Ozploitation movie scene, Patrick tells the story of a comatose boy with psychic powers.

  5. Alison’s Birthday (1981)
    It’s got all the right ingredients for a horror movie, with ouija boards, spirits from the beyond, demonic possessions, and that killer ending.
    All good reasons why this independent movie makes the list.

  6. Roadgames (1981)
    It’s the movie most noted more recently because of its vocal nod from Quentin Tarantino.
    Starring Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis it follows a truck driver and a hitch hiker who take it upon themselves to track down a serial killer on the loose.
    Oh and yet another soundtrack from Brian May.

  7. Razorback (1984)
    Australia’s creature feature and our very own Jaws movie albeit about a wild boar on the loose.
    Say all you like about it, but this is a classic in its own right.

  8. Bloodmoon (1990)
    This slasher film may have come late to the Ozploitation, but such was its impact and not necessarily in a good way that it nestles amongst some great titles here purely for its shocking comedy.
    So bad, it’s positively good.
    And features music from Brian May.
    Again this might not necessarily be a good thing.

  9. Body Melt (1993)
    The influence of Peter Jacksons early work is evident to see in this satirical horror.
    It’s got gore to the max and delights in every possible way.

  10. Saw (2003)
    Yet another Australian horror film that would ignite a genre with horror porn, which some don’t have the stomach for.
    In this instance it generated a horror icon in Jigsaw with its glorious deadly traps and launched the careers of both James Wan and Leigh Whannel.
    It also spawned a massive franchise with a success that only falls short of being the best in the entry by The Friday the 13th movies.
    All that could change though come the release of the next instalment, Saw: Legacy this year.

  11. Undead (2003)
    This movie should be better than it is, and goes all guns blazing in the first third of the film before losing the plot entirely.
    Film critic Roger Ebert to say it’s so bad that it’s bad, but despite its flaws, the film still resonates and is a bit of fun at the end of the day.
    And it did launch the careers of the Sperig brothers, who have gone on to direct bigger movies with a lot more fan fare.

  12. Wolf Creek (2005)
    Inspired by the afore-mentioned Roadgames, director Greg McLean has made a strong name for himself in the horror genre with movies such as Rogue, Wolf Creek 2 and the eagerly anticipated The Belko Experiment.
    Part of its appeal was capitalising on the daunting and dangerous world of the Australian Outback and made Mick Taylor on of modern horror movies most glorious villains thanks to John Jarratt’s chilling performance.

  13. Lake Mungo (2008)
    One of a couple of movies on our list to adopt the doco style of storytelling, Lake Mungo received fairly positive reviews of a family coming to terms with the loss of their daughter, hinged on a supernatural component.
    It’s a slow film but worth the wait for its gripping climax.

  14. The Horseman (2009)
    A revenge thriller with violence dialled to the extreme and may not be everyone’s taste.
    Personally though, I feel that this film speaks to the fringes of human emotion, evoking rage, heartbreak and empathy all in the space of its 96 minute running time.

  15. The Loved Ones (2010)
    Sean Byrne is still a director to keep an eye on and I for one can’t wait to see his follow up Devil’s Candy.
    His debut feature though would gain a huge following with its gender swap of a damoiselle in distress and a female killer played by the delightful Robin McLeavy.

  16. The Tunnel (2011)
    The second movie to adopt the doco style of storytelling, but through the medium of found footage horror.
    The Tunnel shook up the movie industry with its new approach to distribution, allowing viewers to buy frames from the movie as a means to raise the quota to cover the budget and leave room for a little profit.
    It was a business model that was both brave and rewarding for the producers, but more importantly, the film itself seemed to echo that sentiment.
    It’s a bold movie that keeps you hooked as a camera crew delve into the hidden tunnels beneath the city of Sydney only to find more than they bargained for.

  17. The Babadook (2013)
    One of the more recent movies to make the list and one that has the Surgeons sitting on both sides of the fence.
    Jennifer Kent’s debut feature deserves the recognition though as this psychological horror starring Essie Davis tackles a strong subject matter and tells it in a unique fashion.

  18. Wyrmwood (2014)
    Rounding out our list is this balls-to-the-wall bloody fantastic roller coaster of a movie.
    There is nothing predictable about this movie about a zombie horde let loose.
    Rumours are abound that there is a sequel in the works too.

    • Paul Farrell