Houseboat Horror

8 Oct


A title design that rocks 80s pencil case art!


Growing up in country/regional Australia was great when I was a kid. Then I sprouted the paper bag face of pubescence and those parched yellow hills of inescapability became the essence of cringe worthy.

Many years later, the very things that revolted me at the age of 13 have become the ones I delight at seeing captured on the big screen. Call it a nostalgia for 80s cultural cringe – what was once an allergic reaction to those visible byproducts of parochial Australia – Suzanne Grae fashion, unscrubbed aussie accents, B grade TV celebrities, twiggy bushland and places with names like Bonnie Doon. Often the lowest budget films will date the most quickly but they will also be the most authentic documents of the time in which they were made.


"We are the underground"


Having secured the dubious honour of being ‘Australia’s first made for video horror film’, Houseboat Horror doesn’t exactly have a lot to live up to.  The story follows a group of city musicians and out of work actors to Lake Infinity, a fictional version of Lake Eildon. Their quest is to shoot a film clip depicting the wild rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of their band Underground Disco, whose lyrics go something like this: She’s alright with me/ She’s alright with me/ She’s young and groovy/And she’s alright with me. With lyrics like this, it’s no wonder that the local kook grabs a machete.


Gavin Wood scopes out the joint



Scene One: Tarago Van passing through blurry countryside. Right there you’ve got your very first reminder of what it was like growing up in Australia in the late 80s/90s.  Seeing a feature film shot entirely on video brought back memories of  my distant cousin  depriving  a suburban backyard wedding of its grandeur using the powers of video cassette. The script provides a hilarious attempt at naturalism that would not be out of home on a Neighbours set and is brimming with corker lines like ‘Come up here and check out the view – you’ll bar up’ and ‘what kind of arsehole would do that?’ in response to a grisly murder scene.


This up-crotch shot of a harpoon murder victim is typical of HH's cinematography


Standout out performances include the hilarious Gavin Wood (who you can stalk here), Animal (drummer from Hey Hey, It’s Saturday) and Alan Dale (Neighbours at the time, but he later found considerable success in Hollywood). What makes Houseboat Horror so entertaining  is the particularity of the reference points, right down to the galah-like accents,  Cooji/ Kee jumpers and  jet skiing in 80s dinner suits. Efforts to reel us into moments of suspense are inevitably eclipsed by the true horror of seeing mullet heads draped in pirate chic playing Brian Mannix songs on the guitar. If you find yourself often wafting over to the so-bad-it’s good-aisle, you’ll love Houseboat Horror. You can watch the whole thing on you tube – here’s part one:


4 Responses to “Houseboat Horror”

  1. grammorris October 8, 2010 at 3:50 pm #

    I think that shot looked quite tasteful

  2. georgedelaware February 14, 2011 at 2:09 am #

    What a pretentious author, who is trying too hard!! what a bore this article is!

    • grammorris February 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

      Thank you George. I think that finding the time to comment on someones work in such an unhelpful and potentially damaging way is a sign that your life is at a bit of a low point right now. If you have ambitions to be a writer and anonymously attacking others makes you feel better then I think you need to have a look in the mirror and work out what it is that you’re doing wrong.

      Best of luck George, I hope you find peace one day. Until then, I’d rather you didnt post comments here, especially not anonymously with no link to any of your own writing. Clearly Valentines day was a bit of a rough one for you but dont take it out on the people who post here and have generously offered their time, energy and talent towards developing a small community of writers who are all here to learn and develop their craft.


  3. Christopher de Groot March 3, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    This looks like a great film (if you like films such as “Body Melt” and “The Howling 3” which I do!). I will have to watch it. George doesn’t know what he’s talking about!

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