Tuesday, April 7, 2015

LONG WEEKEND (1978)

LONG WEEKEND (1978)
Label: Synapse Films
Release Date: April 14th 2015 
Region Code:
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 95 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround 
Video: 1080p Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Colin Eggleston
Cast: John Hargreaves, Briony Behets

Peter (John Hargreaves, Mad Dog Morgan) and Marcia (Briony Behets, Nightmares) are a
young married couple struggling to cope with issues that have of recent plagued their relationship. In an effort to mend their broken coupling they plan a weekend trip to a deserted stretch of beach bringing the family dog Cricket along with them. Peter has bought all manner of expensive camping gear and seems anxious to get to the beach, while Marcia makes it quite clear from the beginning that she would prefer to be spoiled at an urban resort of some sort. 


The ride out to the beach proves to be problematic, fighting over the radio punctuated by long spells of ignoring each other and monosyllabic communication. As Peter grows tired he hits and kills a Kangaroo without so much as hitting the brake, which is our first hint at how little disregard the couple have for nature. The secluded beach turns out to be not so easy to find in the dark of night, the couple becoming lost in a maze of forested thickets and circular trails. They spend the night in their Jeep, haunted by strange and pained howls emanating from the night, sending chills down Marcia's spine. At sunrise they manage to find the beach and set up a campsite and begin to enjoy what nature has to offer.

The troubled travel was worth it though, the beach is a gorgeous sight with miles of sandy Australian shoreline and deep blue waters to enjoy, but Marcia seemingly wants none of it. She's content to stay at the camp and read trashy novels while occasionally blasting ants with insecticide, occasionally dropping her top to sunbathe. Peter meanwhile wanders the shoreline with his gun, casually shooting the local wildlife and tossing empty bottle of lager into the ocean before blasting them as target practice. When Marcia observes a large shadowy shape in the ocean behind Peter while he is swimming she becomes frightened, concerned it might have been a shark, she becomes unsettled and strange things begin to happen, like a speargun misfiring nearly wounding Marcia.  

The romantic trip to the beach turns out to be any but for the couple, whom are ordinary but unsympathetic people. Peter comes off as more agreeable while Marcia is painted as cold and bitchy, though some back story does explain in part her coldness and sexual indifference towards Peter, who himself becomes less sympathetic as the story unfolds. 

There's been a quiet menace about the film up to this point but things turn for the worse when an eagle which tears into Peter after he finds a bird egg, cracking a joke that perhaps they could make an omelet from it. After the bird attack Marcia smashes the eagle egg against a tree while broaching the subject of an abortion she was forced to endure. Later that same night a possum visiting the campsite takes a chunk out of Peter's hand when he gets a little too close for comfort, the wildlife don't seem to want this couple in the area. 

The next day the couple continue to argue while the creepy sounds of pained howling fill the air, which at some points seem to be figments of Marcia's imagination. Venturing further down the beach they happen upon an abandoned campsite, empty except for a snarling dog. Seeing something out in the surf they discovering a what appears to have been a tragic accident of some sort, maybe foreshadowing the butter couples own fate. As night descends the couple's sanity crumbles as they experience something more harrowing than anything they could have imagined, with nature fighting back against the couple who are a blight on the environment.

Long Weekend (1978) makes it's Blu-ray debut from Synapse Films presented with a brand-new HD transfer from original vault materials framed in the original scope aspect ratio. It's a solid transfer with a fine layer of natural film grain providing some nice depth and clarity with accurate skin tones and good contrast, the gorgeous Australian landscape looks fantastic in HD. 

Audio option include a DTS-HD MA 2.0 and a newly re-mastered DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround soundtrack created by Synapse Films which does a great job of creating creepy atmosphere and dread, enhanced in no small part by the score from composer Michael Carlos (The Odd Angry shot). 

Special features on the disc begin with an informative audio commentary from Producer Richard Brennan and Cinematographer Vincent Monton offering memories of making the film, it can be a little dry as they go on about achieving certain shots in the film and memories of cast and crew, but an enjoyable listen for fans of the film.

There's also an motion still gallery over which an audio Interview with Actor John Hargreaves is playing, images of behind-the-scenes shots and advertising campaigns as Hargreaves discusses his acting style and offers advice for young actors. The last extra on  the disc is the theatrical trailer for the film. Synapse have also offered a sleeve of reversible artwork, of which I preferred the b-side. 

Special Features
- Audio Commentary from Producer Richard Brennan and Cinematographer Vincent Monton
- Motion Still Gallery Featuring an Audio Interview with Actor John Hargreaves (5 Mins)
- Original Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins) 


Long Weekend (1978) is an effective and unnerving nature gone wild entry infused with an eeriness not often associated with these sort of movies, this one is quite intense and atmospheric. The new Blu-ray transfer from Synapse Films looks fantastic and will hopefully earn this lesser known Australian gem legions of new fans.  

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