• Long Weekend

    Released by: Synapse Films
    Released on: 9/27/2005
    Director: Colin Egglseton
    Cast: John Hargreaves, Briony Behets, Mike McEwen, Roy Day
    Year: 1978
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    The Movie:

    Peter (John Hargreaves) and Marcia (Briony Behets) are a married couple that, like any married couple is apt to do, 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 the 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 shore. 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. Their blatant disregard for the campground that they’ve littered with garbage and empty beer cans and their blatant contempt for the insect, plant and animal life around them is going to have karmic consequences that neither of them could imagine in their worst nightmares….

    Long Weekend is a pretty solid horror/thriller. While it’s more fun to enjoy it as a horror film cashing in on our 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, the environmental message by way of the consequences handed out to the two human lead characters is obvious and it makes for an interesting contrast to your average man versus nature film. Written by Everett De Roche (who also wrote Patrick), while the script isn’t exactly a ground breaking treatise on the dangers of littering or mistreating animals, it does have it’s point and it uses that point to build some excellent scenes of suspense. It builds at a nice pace and through some rather interesting tactics. Shots of ants clustering and eating break up the soap opera dramatics of Peter and Marcia’s love life. 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. And then there’s all those wonderfully creepy animal noises that we hear during the night, ominous tones that just might be foreshadowing what’s to come.

    The late Colin Egglseton’s direction (the man behind Fantasm!) is sure and the movie moves along at a nice tight pace, while the cinematography by Vincent Monton does an excellent job of capturing the Australian shore in all its natural splendor. John Hargreaves makes for a good beer swilling tough guy, and Briony Behets plays a bitch very well and does a nice job of showing off her boobies and acting scared when she needs to. 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. Sure, the odds of a collaborative strike against a couple of humans from the entire environment around them are slim, they’re probably (and unfortunately) a lot more likely than an attack against J. Lo and Ice Cube from a giant Anaconda.


    Aside from some very natural looking grain that’s noticeable in a few spots (to be expected on a film of this age), this transfer is pretty damn close to flawless. There’s an amazing amount of both foreground and background detail present in the image and the colors come through perfectly. Black levels stay strong, deep and rich and don’t break up or pixelate at all and nothing gets lost in the shadows in terms of definition or detail (very important during some of the more intense night time scenes in the film). Edge enhancement and line shimmering are kept firmly in check and the flesh tones look lifelike and very natural. The extremely sharp high definition 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen picture does a fantastic job of bringing the film to life and this transfer is, quite frankly, exceptionally good for a low budget horror film fast approaching its thirtieth birthday. Long Weekend fans should be suitably impressed with this effort.

    Take your pick – you’ve got the option of watching the film in a newly created Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix in its native English language or in the original Dolby Digital Mono mix. Both tracks sound great, there’s obviously been some work put into cleaning them up as there aren’t any problems with hiss or distortion. The 5.1 track is a little more fun as the surround channels make the ‘spooky scenes’ just a tad spookier as different effects will come at you from different angles. Bass response is strong and lively, just listen to the thunder when it happens and feel the rumble. Dialogue is clean and clear and pretty easy to understand which is a good thing as there are no subtitles or closed captioning options provided on this release. All in all, the audio is on par with the video – top-notch stuff.

    First up is a full-length audio commentary from executive producer Richard Brennan and cinematographer Vincent Monton that has been ported over from the Australian DVD release. You won’t find this in the extra features section, but if you look in the set up menu it’s there. At any rate, 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 Australian release. The menu wisely mentions that this does contain some spoilers so be sure to watch the movie before you venture into this feature but be sure to check it out as 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 and it’s a shame he wasn’t around to participate in the DVD as he’s pretty interesting to listen to.

    Rounding out the extra features is the film’s original theatrical trailer.

    The Final Word:

    A nice, suspenseful, and creepy little nature gone amok film receives an excellent release from Synapse that should go a long way to expanding Long Weekend’s fan base in North America. The extras are great, the audio is great, and the video transfer on this release is top notch.