Long Weekend is an Australian horror film shot in 1977 and first shown in 1978. The film was directed by Colin Eggleston and stars John Hargreaves and Briony Behets.
The story concerns a couple, Peter (Hargreaves) and Marcia (Behets), who, along with their dog, go for a weekend camping trip. The pair show incredible disrespect for nature, such as polluting, killing a dugong, throwing lit cigarette butts in dry bush, and spraying insecticide, among other transgressions. As tensions between the couple escalate, nature is not pleased with their environmental wrongdoing and starts to strike back, first by an eagle and possum attacking Peter, and then through more insidious means...
- John Hargreaves - Peter
- Briony Behets - Marcia
- Mike McEwen - Truck Driver
- Roy Day - Old Man
- Michael Aitkens - Bartender
- Sue Kiss von Soly - City girl
The script was the first feature script written by Everett De Roche, an experienced Australian TV writer. He was inspired by a trip he took on an Easter weekend to an isolated beach in New South Wales:
I started LW as a way to avoid the TV-cop-show doldrums while still convincing myself I was âworkingâ. LW was a unique project because I began with no outline, no notes or research, very little idea as to where the story was going, and absolutely zero knowledge of screenplays. I simply started at page 1, scene 1, and made it up as I went. I had only a vague plan to write a kind of environmental horror story. My premise was that Mother Earth has her own auto-immune system, so when humans start behaving like cancer cells, She attacks. I also wanted to avoid a JAWS-like critter film. I wanted the LW beasties to all be benign-looking and not overtly aggressive.
De Roche wrote the script in ten days. He showed it to Colin Eggleston, who had worked with him at Crawfords, and Eggleston decided to make the movie. Funds were obtained from Film Victoria and the Australian Film Commission.
Shooting took place in Marchâ"April 1977 in Melbourne and Phillip Island. The ending was originally different according to De Roche:
I wrote an enormously complicated sequence for near the end where the animals give Peter a second chance. They want him to wise up, and he is at the point of doing so when he hears a truck in the distance. He dashes off to the highway, and the animals decide there is no hope. Poetically, they leave it to another man to kill him.
However his scene was too difficult to shoot because it involved animals and was cut.
The movie was not shown until 1979 and was a commercial disappointment in Australia.
The film tied with Invasion of the Body Snatchers to win the Antennae II Award at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival, won the Special Jury Award at 1978's Paris Film Festival and won Best Film, Prize of the International Critics' Jury for director Eggleston and Best Actor for Hargreaves.
AllMovie wrote, "Long Weekend is little more than an extended cautionary tale about the karmic foolishness of disrespecting nature. DVD Times praised the film, and also commented on its obscurity: "when an obviously well made and executed little thriller comes along, an exercise in controlled dread and eerie atmosphere that's really effective, you have to ponder the reasons why the vast majority passed on it. Early Australian cinema seems cursed in this category."
De Roche later expressed some dissatisfaction with the film:
Unfortunately, the bush comes across as a threat too early; it should have emerged as a threat only after the audience had sympathized with the animals. And I donât think that sympathy is there. Long Weekend would have been much better if the audience had been told at the beginning that Peter and Marcia were going to die. This way, it wouldnât have had to sympathize with them, and could have concerned itself solely with when this was going to happen. Such is the essence of suspense.
In 2008, Australian director Jamie Blanks shot a remake of the film (alternately titled Nature's Grave). The film starred James Caviezel and Claudia Karvan.
- Cinema of Australia
- Long Weekend at the Internet Movie Database
- Long Weekend at Australian Screen Online
- The Long Weekend at AustLit