Book Review-Australian Horror Films 1973-2010


Written by Peter Shelley
Published by McFarland & Company


Earlier this year McFarland put out a book called Horror Films of the 1990’s which is quite frankly one of the best books I have read on this genre. It was the size of a small bus and it was such a fun read, I could not put it down. Now, comes the next offering they have and it focuses on Australian Horror. When I think of Australian Horror, I think of immediately of films like Wolf Creek, The Reef, and the lackluster The Loved Ones. I am glad to say now I have a reference book to help me think of more films. The negative right up front is that they did not make it go into 2011 and 2012, because there were more films that should have been put in this book. Author Peter Shelley is a fellow Aussie and has written some books that covered the history of film and he comes across as very knowledgeable and at times very funny. I love that this book wanted to give us something unique and different then the usual books on the history of Asian, European and types of horror like Vampire, and Werewolf among others.

One of the major gripes horror film buffs will have is that his criteria for which some of these films are to him considered horror. Shelley also states that some may find fault with this criteria that horror or a theme of horror is demonstrated by aggressive behavior by a human or animal in a natural way. Also a malevolent supernatural being which can be extended to an animal who has been mutated and behaves in a non natural way. Though Lake Mungo is not covered in this book was a shock, that film for some reason has a fan base, and I would have loved to see that film talked about just for how sheer bad it is and also that it is an Australian film. And it has films that used Australia as a backdrop, but it doubled for another place which absolutely made no sense why these are considered Australian films. Shelley gives us the history of Australian films from the start that dated back to the 1800’s to the first feature film in 1906, and seems to want to share a lot about the history, you can tell he has such a pride and loves this genre of film. Shelley covers what he feels is the best that Australian cinema has to offer, and gives us a list of the cast and crew involved in each film and a brief description of the film, then some comments and info on the film’s release and home video info if it is out on video. The book covers horror films like Razorback from 1984, to Wolf Creek in 2005 to Prey from 2009 and all in between.

This book was fascinating, it had some flaws like what I discussed earlier that maybe horror purists may take issue with the book. I cannot call this the definitive book on Australian horror films because some were omitted, but it was strange some of the choices he made for this book instead of what he should have put in this book. This book is a 320 page paperback, and the price tag is 50.00, so this book is only for diehard fans of this genre. While I liked this book somewhat, if you guys want to make an investment into a horror book that you will not regret buying I would say Horror Films of the 1990’s is a must buy, this book compared to that one looks really pale in comparison.

7 out of 10