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Australia 1998
Directed by
Stephan Elliott
97 minutes
Rated MA

1.5 stars

Welcome To Woop Woop

After his surprise hit with The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, 1994, wunderkind Stephan Elliott plummeted to earth with what is in effect yet another variant on the BarryMackenzie pisstake school of Australian vulgarisms (its originator Barry Humphries appears early in the film as a blind petrol station attendant) in the story of American con man (Jonathon Schaech) who finds himself in the Outback settlement that give the film its name. Whilst the title of the novel on which the film was based, The Dead Heart, by Douglas Kennedy, give some indication of the core of the Wake In Fright (1971)-style story, Elliott so buries it beneath a hyperbolic delivery of the stereotypical Australian crudities that had reached their apogee with Crocodile Dundee (1986) and Young Einstein (1988) but were well and truly past their use-by-date by the time of this film’s release. There are some nice elements here – the casting of one-time matinee star Rod Taylor as Daddy-O, the demented overlord of Woop-Woop (which is, for anyone not familiar with Strine, a general signifier for an isolated place beyond the pale of civilization), the use of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s songs to counterpoint the over-the-top narrative in particular but Elliott fails to bring off the surreal black comedy he obviously intended . After its initial screening at Cannes and Edinburgh in 1997, the film underwent extensive editing prior to its theatrical release in Australia but nothing could save it and it received a critical lambasting and dismal box office. BH

BTW: The film was shot in the natural basin of Mount Ooramina, located 35km out of Alice Springs.




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