Monster Pictures, M, 103 minutes
Filmed in ‘Yowiescope’ (???) and dedicated to late great monster-maker Ray Harryhausen, writer/director/producer Travis Bain’s at times winningly goofy pic has fair acting, some cheesy detail and a monster that looks like exactly what it is: a guy in a suit, which is why we never get a proper, full-body close-up to admire its Yowieness. Nevertheless, this is distinguished by striking location cinematography captured around Cairns, eerily Aussie sound design and a burning desire to hark back to the golden days of ‘Ozploitation’.
An awkward pre-credits sequence shows the fate of bushranger ‘Thunderclap’ Newman (Andy Bramble), and then we meet Jack (Shawn Brack) and Kent (Anthony Ring), a pair of modern-day pals who’ve gone bush to locate Newman’s mythical lost treasure and drink Boggy Creek rosé (groan!) by the fireside. When the loopy Kent turns on Jack (and no spoilers necessary, as Ring looks wild-eyed well before they find the gold), Jack must team up with a ranger named Rhiannon (Melanie Serafin) to make his escape, especially when this murderous minimalist drama is interrupted by the appearance of a bloody Yowie, Australia’s answer to Bigfoot and here depicted as a sort of orangutan-ish gorilla with human-like hands, a rumbling growl and a familiar tendency to only appear behind trees, in shadows, against the sun, out of focus and so forth until late in the action.
Complete with an appearance by grizzled Mad Max 2 (ie. Ozploitation) star Vernon Wells as Detective McNab, Bain’s brainchild lacks the stars, scares, gore or raunchiness that might have made it stand out from the pack, but does offer some nice patter between Brack and Serafin and a camera-shy monster that’s pretty cool anyway. And why not a Bunyip movie complete with rampaging CGI beast? Or, failing that, a wicked Dropbear horror thriller? Hey, it could happen, cobber!!!