GORE IN THE STORE
TWO HEADS CREEK ****
Directed by Jesse O’Brien.
Starring Jordan Waller, Kathryn Wilder, Gary Sweet.
Horror comedy. UK, Australia, 85 minutes.
Released on Digital HD September 7th by FrightFest Presents and Signature Entertainment.
Ozploitation was a genre that never took itself seriously. Even in its darker moments with films such as NEXT OF KIN there was a distinct sense of exactly what the filmmakers could get away with in terms of stunts and shots as well as outrageous storytelling delivering the staples of gore and nudity that often went above and beyond the required amount. Ready to join the likes of ROAD GAMES and WAKE IN FRIGHT with its tale of foreigners facing up to the otherworldly threats of the outback is TWO HEADS CREEK a horror comedy with its own bloodily humorous personality.
Kicking off in a perpetually sodden estate in Slough, we meet young Norman, a butcher whose Polish mother has just died and is under siege from the Brexit mad residents of the area. Unexpectedly learning of his true parentage Norman, and his twin sister Annabelle, whose acting career has peaked with her face plastered all over a worldwide campaign for laxatives, decide to journey to Australia to reunite with their birth mother. Their quest takes them to the titular small outback town where they discover that its eccentric, which is putting it mildly, residents may have had a hand in her apparent recent death as well as a number of other gory activities committed in the name of Australian culture.
What follows is both gory and funny, successfully combining the two elements that recalls the best efforts of the genre. Whilst it may lack the emotional beats of the best of the genre, being SHAUN OF THE DEAD and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, it makes up for it with a truly impressive hit rate of one liners and visual gags that many mainstream comedies struggle to achieve. As well as portraying Norman actor Jordan Waller has also written the script. It is an impressive double act; Norman is far from the typical hero that would be found in such a film, still carrying his childhood teddy bear, or wombat, and constantly being saved by his sister. His script is not too subtle when it comes to its political issues but is played at such a pitch that it never comes across as polemical, concentrating instead on giving its sizable cast enough to play with and maintaining the bloody mystery of Two Heads Creek.
Kathryn Wilder makes an even greater impression here with her portrayal of a self-involved artiste who doesn’t stand for any nonsense aimed at her or her brother. What could have been an insufferable or annoying character instead comes off as one of the funniest managing to achieve more of the heroic aspects that often have an audience cheering on in support. Another stand out is musical star Helen Dallimore as Apple, a tour guide big of hair and voice whose cheery exterior hides a sadistic and ruthless matriarch. The rest of the cast all get their own individual moments to shine particularly David Adlam as the creepy Eric who indulges in naked dinner dates and the apparently ancient and indecipherable Uncle Morris played by Don Bridges, an actor who can transform the words “yeah” and “nah” into bilingual phrases that can mean almost anything.
Its visual style recalls that perpetual sunlit look of the Ozploitation films of the 80’s such as RAZORBACK. Director Jesse O’Brien manages to capture the outrageous edge of the genre with a copious amount of gore and bloodshed. That he manages to do so in a film that tackles culture clash and in one stingingly funny scene the injustice and mistreatment of the Aboriginal population only then to whip out a show stopping musical number is a testament to his skills. Hopefully he will stick with the genre for the foreseeable future if only to see if he can accomplish such an assured mix of horror and laughs again.