Director/Producer – Colin Eggleston, Screenplay – Everett De Roche, Photography – Vincent Monton, Music – Michael Carlos, Special Effects – Ivan Durrant, Makeup – Deryck de Niese, Production Design – Larry Eastwood. Production Company – Dugong Films.
John Hargreaves (Peter), Briony Behets (Marcia)
A married couple, Peter and Marcia, go to a remote beach on a camping holiday over a long weekend. There as the problems in their marriage come to the fore – her guilt over the abortion she had following an affair, her dislike of sex with him any more and his resultant frustration – Nature crowds in around them with malevolent intent.
This little seen Australian effort is one of the most impressive of the cycle of 1970s Nature’s Revenge films that came out inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963). It is also one of the best and most underrated films to come out during the classic period of Australian cinema between the 1970s/80s.
Under director Colin Eggleston, Long Weekend builds in with a superbly claustrophobic oppressiveness – the seal body that mysteriously moves closer and closer to the campsite; the camper van from the never-seen campers that is found buried offshore as the tide goes out; John Hargreaves’ attempts to leave the beach only to keep travelling in a circle. Especially good is the climactic night of paranoia that John Hargreaves spends with birds tauntingly dropping shoes in the middle of the campfire and the shocking scene where he shoots at something, only for the fade to morning to reveal that he has hit Briony Behets in the forehead with a harpoon.
Long Weekend is the one entry in the Nature’s Revenge cycle that owes the most to The Birds in that it similarly offers no explanation for the events that are happening. Any explanation seems to exist purely on the level of subtext. The impression that one gets is that John Hargreaves and Briony Behets are being made to pay for their crimes against nature, most obviously Behets for her abortion. (This is surely a Nature’s Revenge film with a fundamentalist ethic).
The film is filled with shots that detachedly cut away to show the effects of their indifferent plundering of the landscape – matches casually thrown on the roadside starting fires, insecticide being sprayed, bottles thrown in the water, a crab crushed under the tires of the jeep, John Hargreaves chopping down tress and shooting his rifle into the air because he is bored. John Hargreaves and Briony Behets make a particularly convincing couple – the gradual unveiling of their problems make for a startling undertow that threatens to tear them apart as much as the film’s scarily sourceless series of attacks does.
The film was later remade by Jamie Blanks as Long Weekend (2008) featuring Jim Caviezel and Claudia Karvan. Praise is given for Long Weekend in the documentary Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! (2008).
Director Colin Eggleston made a number of other genre efforts in Australia, including the psycho-thrillers The Little Fella (1982) and Innocent Prey (1984), the sf/adventure film Sky Bandits/Sky Pirates (1985), the precognition horror Cassandra (1987) and Outback Vampires (1987).