Long Weekend (1978)

Yeah, that’s right, I followed Dead Weekend with another weekend movie, Long Weekend, and I did it in the middle of the week. I’m edgy, woo. I’ll see myself out.

Long Weekend is a 1978 Australian horror film about a couple in a failing marriage on a camping trip to the beach, where they pollute, argue, and are harassed by a dugong that may very well be a zombie. That’s a type of sea cow, for those of us who aren’t familiar with Australian wildlife. For those of you who don’t know what a sea cow is, that contains manatees. If you’re still lost, maybe go read a book about animals or something. Anyway, yeah, killer dugong, freaky birds, a giant spiderweb at one point, ants, mosquitoes, and pretty much nature in general decides that this particular couple sucks, and you know what, let’s just end them because they’re dicks.

Can’t say I disagree completely with nature here.

There’s a lot to unpack in this movie. Our central couple, Peter and Marcia, are having a terrible time with each other for reasons that they don’t really want to talk about but eventually come flying out as they scream and argue at the drop of a hat. It doesn’t matter that they seemed like a couple that could potentially go on the mend a second ago, they’re actually quite eager to rip each other’s heads off. Why? Well, turns out Marcia’s been having an affair and had an abortion, and the physical and mental fallout of the decision haunts her. If you’ve ever wondered if you should go on a camping trip as a means to try to save your failing marriage, the answer should be a blatantly obvious “NO,” but these two don’t seem to be the wisest of folks.

Things don’t go so well as far as their relationship with nature is concerned either. It starts with an argument over the dog, then Peter runs over a kangaroo in the middle of the night. They get lost, they argue. Marcia wakes up and discovers Peter’s set up camp and hidden her clothes. From there, it’s killing bugs with pesticide, Peter drinking and shooting wildly at whatever is around (because as any self-respecting city slicker getting back to nature knows, booze and rifles definitely mix), Marcia taking an egg that she finds, the two killing that dugong, and every time they seem to have a happy moment, they quickly find a way to ruin it for each other. They even run over a crab on the beach. They’re not happy people.

A recurring element of the film is their lack of a sex life too. Marcia refuses to be intimate with Peter but masturbates while by herself. Peter makes demands of Marcia and then screams at her when she’s not in the mood. Subtle references to sexuality abound, from the penetration of a tree with a harpoon gun to Marcia kneeing Peter to Peter getting high while looking at an old Playboy. Ok, maybe that one’s not so subtle, but you get my drift. He’s sexually frustrated and trying to reclaim a lost masculinity by trying to sexually claim her, she’s disgusted and frustrated by him and his behavior and feeling guilt and loathing over her decision. The two care for each other; that’s obvious by how they both come running when they think the other is in trouble. But I don’t think they’re gonna manage to work this out.

When nature finally gets fully fed up, it is not kind. There is some fun use of imagery to invoke the frightening power that the world can bring to bear, whether it’s long shadows underwater or hanging over us, people wandering in circles, sudden and frightening turns from animals, the rotting of trees, or even swiftly molding chicken meat. Hell, this movie has a scene where a fire suddenly crackles, and you know even fire hates these folks. In one scene, Marcia crashes the jeep into a web, and a very large spider silhouette sends her screaming. You know what? I’m right there with her. Fuck that.

Australia, you’ve got some terrifying wildlife. Remind me never to go outside if I ever visit. You don’t even need rednecks to make Deliverance seem like a walk in the park.

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