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Home / Film / Interviews / Nature Found Them Guilty: Lindsay Hallam Discusses Australian Exploitation Cinema and her Miskatonic Horror Institute Talk

Nature Found Them Guilty: Lindsay Hallam Discusses Australian Exploitation Cinema and her Miskatonic Horror Institute Talk

Wolf Creek (2005)

We are very proud to announce the first set of students have been selected to attend the full Spring 2017 semester at Miskatonic Insitute of Horror Studies in London as part of the Diabolique Scholarship. The lucky candidates are as follows: Rachel Barker, Richard Powley, Steven Ryder, Ashleigh Mills, Jocelyn McGregor. The Institute runs classes all year and if you would like to apply for the scholarship and attend in the next term full details of how to apply and a full line-up of this semester’s new classes can be found here.

The Institute kick off their stunning Spring semester on the 19th January 2017 with an opening talk from Lindsay Hallam entitled: Nature Found Them Guilty”: Revenge in Australian Exploitation Cinema. Diabolique caught up with Lindsay to ask her about the talk. Read what she had to tell us and then check out the amazing trailer below!

Diabolique: Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Lindsay: I grew up in Perth, Western Australia. I have a PhD in film studies, with my thesis becoming the basis of my first book Screening the Marquis de Sade: Pleasure, Pain and the Transgressive Body in Film.  I currently work as a lecturer in Film at the University of East London, having moved to London just over three years ago. My main research area is horror cinema, and while much of my previous work focused on representations of the body, I am also very interested in how horror adapts and changes in different national contexts.

Diabolique: What has inspired your talk?

Lindsay: Definitely my own experiences growing up in Australia have inspired several aspects of the lecture. Many Australians have a strange relationship with Australian cinema; while some films such as Wolf Creek manage to reach a large audience, a lot of Australians appear to actively avoid seeing Australian films (part of a phenomenon referred to as the “cultural cringe”). Funnily enough, it is only after moving away from Australia that I have started to write about Australian films, my own feelings and responses to them have actually deepened since I left. 

I am also really excited to speak about the fantastic new crop of horror filmmakers working at the moment, as well as delving into the rich history of genre films that are often overlooked in critical and academic circles. I want to highlight these films, but also relate them to a larger discussion of how these films are slyly subversive, offering a flipside view of Australia’s colonial history.

Diabolique: What can people expect to take away from it?

Lindsay: I hope people continue to realise how important cinema is in how we see ourselves and our history, but also how cinema has the capacity to challenge and subvert the dominant view of this history. Many of my favourite genre films are ones that have that subtext, that use genre tropes to smuggle through some radical ideas. However, I don’t want to appear as though I am trying to legitimate or excuse these films, many were made with the main purpose of scaring the shit out of you, showing some tits, and blowing stuff up, but when you look across the breadth of Australian genre cinema you see some really interesting messages and images that I wanted to talk about. 

Diabolique: Tell us a little bit about the key films you have picked and why?

Lindsay: Long Weekend is probably the key text that I will be looking at in the most depth. It brings together many aspects to do with notion of nature’s revenge, with the nonhuman animals and the landscape itself becoming sentient beings finally holding humans to account for their mistreatment and exploitation of the land. The way that this is so quietly and systematically played out makes for an incredibly fascinating film. The rampaging animal is further examined in Dark Age and Razorback. 

The victimisation and revenge of women is discussed in regards to  Mad Max: Fury Road, Fair Game and Storm Warning, an area that I think is essential when deconstructing the rather toxic celebration of a misogynistic form of ‘mateship’ that is part of the dark side of Australian culture. This links to my discussion of Wolf Creek, which I also feel connects to a rising xenophobia. The repercussions of the genocide of Australian aboriginal people – the first Australians – is also a common theme, with one section of the lecture devoted to the analysis of films with indigenous prophecies and curses, in examples such as The Last Wave and Kadaicha.  

Diabolique: Finally, what are some of the underlying themes you will be exploring?

Lindsay: My focus on revenge is central to all the areas that I cover, which I will argue is very much connected to Australia’s colonial past. Looking back at Australian history you see a lot that can be avenged! And when you look at Australian genre cinema you see revenge narratives come up again and again. Colonisation is ultimately revealed as invasion and contagion, and the people who are products of this colonisation must contend with their responsibility, culpability, as well as an underlying deep-seated guilt, which clashes with their continuing desire to maintain control and privilege. This conflict makes for some interesting battles. What I hope becomes clear is that while these themes have been explored since the 1970s, they still reverberate today in contemporary films – if anything they have become intensified.

You can get more details on the class here.

About Kat Ellinger

Kat Ellinger is the Editor-in-Chief of Diabolique Magazine, and the co-host of their Daughters of Darkness podcast. Her writing has appeared in the pages of Fangoria, Scream Magazine (UK) and Gothic culture magazine Carpe Nocturne. She has recently worked a number of liner notes for cult home video label Arrow Films, as well as appearing on camera for them, written for Senses of Cinema and is currently working on a book on Daughters of Darkness (1971) for the Devil's Advocates Series (Auteur).

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