Ten Aussie Horror Films That’ll Leave You Frightened This Friday the Thirteenth

Another Friday the Thirteenth rolls around, and naturally, our minds are reaching for something truly terrifying to tingle our spines on this day of horror and bad luck. While the deep well of horror films is positively teeming with options, we here at The Curb wish to nudge you in the direction of some truly horrifying Aussie films.

Cut – dir. Kimble Rendall, 2000

First off the ranks is Aussie B-grade slasher Cut. Featuring Kylie Minogue as a film director (can you imagine a film directed by Kylie Minogue?), a bunch of badness and madness, a film with a curse, and eighties icon Molly Ringwald, Cut has recently been given the respect it possibly deserves via an excellent Umbrella Entertainment Bluray release. Director Kimble Rendall understands the shlocky avenue of horror intimately, and leans into that with gusto. Give this one a watch late in the night, with a few drinks under your belt, you’ll love it even more.

Killing Ground – dir. Damien Power, 2016

Damien Power’s heart stopping bush-based horror goes right for the gut with its pure intention to unsettle you deeply, ensuring you’ll have a difficult nights sleep for sure. Aaron Glenane and Aaron Pedersen play sweaty, dirty, lecherous hunters, observing and antagonising campers looking to relax over the Christmas holiday break. Every minute amplifies an uneasy tension that absolutely snaps in an unexpected way. Hands down one of the finest Australian horror films of all time.

Little Monsters – dir. Abe Forsythe, 2019

The zombie genre seems to never die, and we really have to be thankful for that when we have films like Little Monsters in the mix, especially with a co-lead performance from the positively luminous Lupita Nyong’o. The Oscar winner plays an eternally positive primary school teacher stuck in the middle of a zombie outbreak with her class of young students, and alongside the misogynistic kids performer played by Josh Gad, and the man-child played by Alexander England, she has to keep them all alive. Uproariously funny while gruesomely gross, Little Monsters is a Aussie zom-com treat.

The Last Wave – dir. Peter Weir, 1977

Maybe something a little more serious, or considered, is on your Friday the 13th agenda? If so, then check out Peter Weir’s eco-horror The Last Wave. Given the torturous times we find ourselves in with the grips of the climate emergency transforming the world around us before our eyes, The Last Wave works as a powerful reminder of the value of listening to the Indigenous people of the world. This is a warning siren, an act of renewal that comes with mammoth destruction and fear. Not a traditional horror, but certainly a film that when viewed through modern eyes will leave you shaken.

The Pyjama Girl Case – dir. Flavio Mogherini, 1978

Consider this one an Aussie film by stealth, given it’s an Italian production about a real Australian crime. Filmed in Sydney, Flavio Mogherini’s film modernises the traumatic tale of Linda Agostini, a woman who devastatingly was murdered, being burnt so badly that police couldn’t identify her, and as such, put her body on public display to hopefully have someone who knew her come forward. Here, he presents her death through the gaze of the seventies, condemning the men in her life and lamenting the tragic loss of life. Quiet and considered, The Pyjama Girl Case is your true crime horror film for this horror focused night.  

Next of Kin – dir. Tony Williams, 1982

Maybe mysteries and thrillers are more your thing, which if that’s the case, then Next of Kin will be right down your alley. Taking place in a retirement home, new owner Linda (Jacki Kerin) is shocked to the core as strange deaths start to take place. Quietly gruesome and unsettling, Next of Kin takes its time in revealing its frights, utilising moments of piano-wire like tension to build the fear. One moment with an elderly man and a bathtub is going to be hard to get out of your mind. Ripped straight from the Ozploitation era, Next of Kin is low-budget horror brilliance.

Body Melt – dir. Philip Brophy, 1993

GAH! Philip Brophy’s Body Melt is easily the most gloriously gruesome, maddeningly moist, furiously filthy, and despicably disgusting Australian film ever. When you title your film Body Melt, well, you better deliver some melted bodies, and sure enough, Brophy doesn’t disappoint. With Covid-19 currently wreaking havoc on the world, this is film that’ll ratchet your germ-phobic anxieties to eleven and will have you reaching for that handwash immediately. Spew, spit, collapsing bodies, blood, guts, a Daddo brother, and pulsing eyeballs, all mix up together in a blender to make this an excellent pink-tinged-horror-smoothie of a film that’ll leave your stomach doing backflips.

The Invisible Man – dir. Leigh Whannell, 2020

Another Aussie film by stealth, The Invisible Man is easily one of the finest horror films of 2020, with writer-director Leigh Whannell utilising empty space to scare the bejesus out of you perfectly. With exceptional sound design and an excellent central performance from Elisabeth Moss, The Invisible Man brings domestic violence to the horror genre (but respectfully so). This is an empathetic film, one that utilises real horrors to address real societal problems, and will definitely leave you gripping your armrest for dear life. Plus, there’s even bonus Nicholas Hope to give you that added Bad Boy Bubby-esque fright.

Celia – dir. Ann Turner, 1989

The real-world terror that thrives within Ann Turner’s undervalued eighties horror film Celia is what makes the film outwardly horrific. Following the story of a young girl finding herself in a world with anti-Communist Red Scare material everywhere, and the seemingly endless rabbit plague that swarmed across Australia, Celia disturbs in the way that the world seeks to harm, adjust, and transform the youth of the day. This is a hard film to pigeonhole, making it entirely unique, and that uniqueness is what makes it genuinely unsettling.   

The Furies – dir. Tony D’Aquino, 2019

Finally, we have Tony D’Aquino’s feature debut The Furies. An entourage of kidnapped women work to escape the clutches of deranged killers, all with the backdrop of the Australian outback to amplify the violence and terror that unfurls over its 80-minute runtime. Bloody, brutal, and brilliant, The Furies eagerly incepts itself into your mind with the disturbing masks that the evil killers wear – one will leave those with trypophobia running for the exit. Cruelly neglected on release, The Furies now finds itself on home release, and it’s likely to be bashing down your door, demanding to become your new cult-favourite film.

So there you go! Ten Aussie horror films that’ll fill your fright-bucket this Friday the Thirteenth. Let us know in the comments below what Aussie horror films you’ll be watching!

Andrew F Peirce

Andrew is passionate about Australian film and culture. He is the co-chair of the Australian Film Critics Association, a Golden Globes voter, and the author of two books on Australian film, The Australian Film Yearbook - 2021 Edition, and Lonely Spirits and the King. You can find him online trying to enlist people into the cult of Mac and Me.

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