A couple of years ago, I gave Mondo scribe Matthew C. Vaughan Aussie TV movie Outback Vampires to watch. He didn’t make it past twenty minutes and described it as a ‘filmed pantomime.’ His review really put me off, but I couldn’t get its brilliant title out of my head. With Lucky Grills, aka Bargearse, in the cast, I knew that it would eventually reel me in for a viewing. That time has finally come.
aka: The Wicked
aka Prince at the Court of Yarralumla
Australia, 1987, Colin Eggleston
Still, with Eggleston at the helm, I was a little excited, and its fun opening act seemed to confirm my feelings. We got two very Aussie guys (Richard Morgan and Brett Climo) and a hitch-hiking girl (Angela Kennedy) whose first line is ‘Rack off!’ Their car breaks down and they wind up in a spooky outback town filled with faces that will be familiar to my fellow Australians. Lucky Grills is the town mayor. And Richard Carter is… some kind of weirdo. There’s bad jokes, overbearing music, and graves overflowing with, what Carter describes as, ‘cattle bones.’ It certainly kicks things off nicely.
Our two leading bogan men and their much more likeable female counterpart are sent to a big house populated by a super creepy pervozoid (David Gibson), his crusty old mum (Maggie Blinco), and her husband Sir Alfred Terminus (John Doyle). We find out quickly that this oddball outback weirdos are actually, as the title tells us, a family of outback vampires.
Eventually we meet Sir Alfred’s weirdo daughter (Antonia Murphy) too. She’s missing half her brain. Literally. For some reason. We’re taken through a series of seemingly unending hi-jinks in the vampires’ outback mansion. Our three heroes even escape the house at one point, before being quickly re-delivered by the townsfolk in a scene that confused me so much I had to rewind it twice. At this point, I was, admittedly, falling in and out of consciousness.
Outback Vampires only runs for about 80 minutes. It felt a lot longer. This is not to say I hated it. At times, I truly enjoyed it. Much of it had me grinning: Lucky Grills contacting the vampires via a bicycle-powered radio connection, the bizarre sex stuff between Brett Climo and Antonia Murphy, and the goofy but fun perspective effects. Its ending, in particular, with a (spoiler alert) giant-sized exploding vampire entertained me thoroughly.
But it’s also draining as fuck. The actors ramp up the camp to extreme levels and scenes run in circle upon circle. This is not trashy or sleazy enough to reach the exploitative heights of Ozploitation’s best-worst offerings, nor does it have enough of a budget to deliver on prosthetic fun outside of a decapitated head. Most disappointingly, for a film titled Outback Vampires, Eggleston doesn’t cash in on his setting or the Australianness of its concept. The vampires speak in faux-posh accents and we mostly reside in the mansion rather than the outback. Lucky Grills is also criminally underused.
Outback Vampires is not a lost Ozploitation classic. There’s certainly a reason this hasn’t been released on DVD. But for all its slog, I’m glad I checked it out. It’s a film that has its moments and there’s enough head-scratching weirdness to make it a worthwhile watch. It would have been an incredible experience to stumble across this on TV.
Outback Vampires is only available on VHS. Maybe you should bug Monster Pictures for a DVD release?