• Long Weekend (Blu-ray)



    Released by: Synapse Films
    Released on: April 14th, 2015.
    Director: Colin Eggleston
    Cast: John Hargreaves, Briony Behets
    Year: 1978
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    The Movie:

    Peter (John Hargreaves) and Marcia (Briony Behets) are a married couple that, like any married couple will be apt to do, have started to feel the stress from their day-to-day lives creeping up on them. To get away from it all, they decide to pack up their truck and grab the dog to head off for a long weekend at the beach. They stop off to grab some beer on the way, and head out to the coast to live it up for a few days and forget about life’s trials and tribulations. Along the way they hit and kill a kangaroo with their truck, but they don’t let that stop them. They’re bound and determined to get away from it all, and that’s exactly where they go… it’s just them and Mother Nature - but we all know that Mother Nature can be a real bitch sometimes, don’t we?

    At any rate, after driving around looking for the right place our intrepid campers set up along the gorgeous pacific coast. There’s some serious tension between Peter and Marcia, however, and after setting up camp they get to wandering around on their own more or less ignoring one another for the most part. Peter decides to drink some beers and wander around shooting some of the local fur bearing residents, while Marcia hits the beach to soak up some sun. When he heads down to the beach to do some surfing, she retires to the tent to take care of business on her own and let her fingers do the walking. It’s painfully obvious by this point that this isn’t exactly an ideal romantic getaway and that Peter and Marcia have some serious issues of their own to deal with if they want to make their marriage last.

    What they don’t realize, however, is that there’s something else out there with them. Something that they can’t see, or that they can’t recognize as a threat at least. They’ve shown blatant disregard for the campground that they’ve littered with garbage and empty beer cans and blatant contempt for the insect, plant and animal life around them. This is going to have karmic consequences, the kind that that neither of them could have imagined in their worst nightmares….

    Long Weekend is a remarkably effective horror/thriller. On one level, it’s fun to enjoy the film as a horror film that cashes in on our inherent fear of the unknown and the eerie feeling that you can get when you’re alone in a remote area of the world without anyone else around. At the same time, there’s the environmental message demonstrated by way of the consequences handed out to the two human lead characters. It might be obvious, heavy handed even, but it makes for an interesting contrast to your average man versus nature film. Written by Everett De Roche (who also wrote Patrick), the script doesn’t exactly deliver a ground breaking treatise on the dangers of littering or mistreating animals, but it certainly does have its points and it uses those points to build some excellent scenes of suspense. The story builds at a strong pace and through some rather interesting tactics. Examples of this would include some early shots of ants clustering and eating, inserted into the film with ominous intentions and to break up the soap opera dramatics of Peter and Marcia’s love life. Pay attention to the way that the corpse of one of the animals that Peter shot while screwing around with his gun seems to be getting closer and closer to the tent… regardless of how many times he moves it away. Subtle bits like this are inserted into the film in clever ways and after a while they start to get under your skin. Then there are all those wonderfully creepy animal noises that we hear during the night, ominous tones that just might be foreshadowing what’s to come. Great use of sound in the film.

    The late Colin Egglseton’s direction (he was the man behind Fantasm!) is quite assured and the movie moves along at a nice tight pace. The cinematography by Vincent Monton does an excellent job of capturing the Australian coastal locations in all their natural splendor. John Hargreaves makes for a good beer swilling tough guy type, playing the man’s man well and quite believably. Likewise, Briony Behets plays the bitchy type just as well and does a nice job of portraying some very believable moments of seemingly genuine fear. As far as the nature gone amok films, this one is near the top of the list as it is certainly a lot more realistic than most of the others of its kind. Long Weekend holds up very well, it’s a chilling film with a whole lot going for it and a picture completely worth checking out if you’ve yet to see it.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Long Weekend debuts on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and in a word, it looks gorgeous. With most of the film taking place outside and in well-lit conditions we get some really impressive color reproduction here while black levels stay nice and deep. Shadow detail in some of the darker, night time scenes looks just fine and texture and depth are definitely much stronger than they were on the admittedly already very nice looking DVD release from a few years back. Skin tones look nice and lifelike and there are no problems to note with any digital trickery, meaning the image is thankfully devoid of any edge enhancement or noise reduction. The picture is also surprisingly clean, meaning that while there is some obvious film grain (as there should be) there isn’t much in the way of actual print damage to note. Compression artifacts are never a problem and all in all, Long Weekend’s high definition debut offers exactly the sort of upgrade you’d want from past releases.

    Audio chores are handled by your choice of a nicely remixed DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track or the original 2.0 Mono, also in DTS-HD – both tracks are in English and they sound quite nice. The 5.1 mix does a great job of spreading out some of those ever important sound effects in a few key scenes and also does some nice job with the channel separation in regards to the film’s score, while the Mono mix will give purists the listening experience they want. Both tracks are clean, clear and nicely balanced and free of any hiss or distortion.

    Extras? First up is a full-length audio commentary, carried over from the aforementioned DVD release, courtesy of executive producer Richard Brennan and cinematographer Vincent Monton. This first appeared on the Australian DVD release prior to Synapse Films’ standard definition domestic offering. It’s a pretty interesting track and the two remember a fair bit of detail about the shoot. They go into plenty of detail about how some specific moments in the film were conceived and executed in front of the camera and there are some interesting anecdotes about the shoot and those involved in the film contained herein. This is one of those commentary tracks that does a nice job of finding the right mix of technical information and discussion, as well as behind the scenes facts and the end result is a fun


    There’s also an extensive still gallery containing a wealth of behind the scenes photos, promotional pieces and more that has an excellent audio interview with actor John Hargreaves that plays over top of it, again, ported over from the previous DVD releases. This segment does contain some spoilers so be sure to watch the movie before you venture into this feature but be sure to check it out. Hargreaves has also got some very interesting tales to tell about his experiences on the set of the film. This feature runs for just under five minutes in length and it’s a nice addition to the commentary. Considering that Hargreaves has passed on, it’s nice that this is included here. Rounding out the extra features is the film’s original theatrical trailer, animated menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Synapse Films’ Blu-ray debut for Long Weekend might not add any new extras but it gives this creepy classic a beautiful high definition transfer and some very strong lossless audio options as well. The film itself remains a tense and riveting watch, a suspenseful film with some great performances, amazing location photography and some genuinely creepy scenes that will stick with you long after the end credits roll.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!