Classic Cult Australian Films
Top 10 Weird, Wonderful & Wacky Aussie Films
There is no doubt about it. When it comes to creating unique films about controversial and somewhat awkward subjects, the Australian Film Industry is up there with the best in the world.
Below are listed just a few of these iconic Aussie movies which have become cult classics over the years. They also feature many actors such as Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Eric Bana, Hugo Weaving and more who have later gone on to super stardom in Hollywood.
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Some of the films below are quite violent and controversial
They are all award winning Australian films, but some are a little bit on the violent side and of a nature which some viewers might find disturbing. So, please read the descriptions of each film and if you are easily offended, please do not watch any of those video trailers which might be offending to you.
When referring to AFI awards in the film descriptions below, AFI stands for Australian Film Industry.
Mad Max is notable as it featured a young and then unknown actor by the name of Mel Gibson in the lead role of Max. The film also held a record in Guinness Book of Records for 20 years as the highest profit-to-cost ratio of a motion picture. Costing only $400,000 to make, it grossed $100 million worldwide!
Mad Max was the first film in a trilogy of films which depicted a severe breakdown in society due to a lack of resources such as fuel and food. (Are we heading in this direction?) The film was released in 1979 to confusion and negativity by critics initially due to it's violence and negative undertones, but has since been hailed as one of the greatest Australian films of all time.
It certainly broke down a few barriers and won three AFI awards at the 1979 award ceremony. It is a film which has always been popular with motoring fans due to the muscle cars in the film which have inspired lots of car enthusiasts to build their own replicas of them. Mad Max spawned two sequels. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior in 1981 and then in 1985, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, which featured Tina Turner.
This trailer is for the US version of the film which was dubbed over by Americans because the Australian accents and slang words were obviously a little too hard to understand!
The two other thumbnail videos below are for the film sequels.
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BMX Bandits is notable as being one of the first screen appearances for actress Nicole Kidman who has since appeared in many Hollywood films and was once married to Tom Cruise. Nicole is one of the main actors in the film. One of the "BMX Bandits"
BMX Bandits has gained cult status mainly because of Nicole Kidman's appearance in the film, but also due to the popularity of BMX bicycles over the years. The films was released at a time when BMX bikes had burst onto the scene and were becoming a must have for children and teenagers worldwide. The film is a classic tale of teenagers against the bad guys. Kids on bikes outwitting the criminals against all odds when the police could not catch them. Well worth a watch and a great family film. It is rated G.
Kenny is a "Mockumentary" about a plumber who works for a toilet rental company. The film follows Kenny through his daily life of delivering, cleaning and emptying public toilets at events throughout the city of Melbourne. Please note that this film is very tongue in cheek and is not a real documentary. It is just made to appear like a real life documentary.
Called "The Dalai-Lama" of Waste Management by the film's director, Kenny is a humble man who loves what he does even though it is not the most glamorous job in the world. He is up against it throughout the film and has personal battles to deal with as well as those of the drunken public that he has to contend with on an almost daily basis.
Shane Jacobson won Best Actor at the 2006 AFI Awards for his role as Kenny and the film was also nominated for another five awards. This is a fantastic film that is very Aussie, with lots of great one liners. You will fall in love with the character of Kenny and get lots of laughs out of this one. I had tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks the first time that I watched it.
Starring Russell Crowe, Romper Stomper is a pretty confronting film about Neo-Nazi Skinhead gangs and racial violence in the working class suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Definitely not one for the kiddies!
This controversial 1992 film was nominated for nine AFI awards and won three including best actor in a lead role (Russel Crowe), best achievement in sound and best original music score. It was also well received at the box office and by critics. If you are easily offended, then I would give this one a miss due it's harsh language and violence, but if you are after a real life fast paced tale that depicts racial tensions in a realistic way, then this is a great movie. It was inspired by actual events in the life of a convicted Neo-Nazi skinhead murderer.
The Castle is a film about the Kerrigan family. Working class heroes who are out to fight the big boys in order to save their home from being taken by the government and the adjacent airport. The film itself is a bit of a working class hero, grossing over $10 million at the box office in Australia, compared to its budget of just $19,000.
This is a classic Aussie film that was pretty spot on at the time in depicting a low income Australian family in a fairly cheap working class suburb. Released in 1997 it was nominated for four AFI awards, winning the one for Best Original Screenplay. The film was a hit in Australia and New Zealand, but not so in the USA where it was eventually released with "Australian" words dubbed over to make the film more understandable to American audiences. There are loads of laughs in the film and it is also a great heart warming "David and Goliath" tale.
Bad Boy Bubby
A pretty sick and twisted film, it gives an insight into what it can be like to be mentally retarded in an often cruel world. Viewer discretion advised on this one.
I first saw Bad Boy Bubby in the mid 90's and even owned it on VHS for a while too. This film won four awards at the 1994 AFI awards including best actor and was nominated for two more. It is a notable film due to it's controversial scenes which depict many taboo topics including animal cruelty and incest. It is definitely not for the faint hearted or easily offended viewer, but if you are pretty open minded and have a fairly warped sense of humour, then it is worth a watch for sure.
Chopper is an autobiographical film about Mark "Chopper" Read, a career criminal from Melbourne, Australia. "Chopper" Read has spent most of his 57 years in prison so far. At one stage spending only 13 months on the "outside" between the ages of 20 and 38. The film was based on Chopper's autobiographical books on his life. It stars Eric Bana as Chopper and was the role which lead to him becoming noticed by Hollywood. Before this film, Eric had only done comedy (including the film The Castle above) and was part of a TV comedy skit show "Full Frontal" in which he played Chopper in short comedy skits. He was actually suggested by Chopper Read himself to play the part after he had seen Eric taking him off on the TV show.
Having read some of Chopper's first books and seen the film and knowing people that know people who have come across him in real life, I know that he is a great story teller, but although some of his tales are dubious in regards to the amount of truth in them, there is no doubt that Chopper did a lot of the things that he spoke about. He is a pretty disturbed person who Eric Bana portrays brilliantly in this film.
The film received critical acclaim and won many awards including three AFI awards in 2000. Adult themes and violence run throughout the film, but if you can handle them it is a fantastic movie to watch. Even the old rocker Alice Cooper loves it! I heard him recommending the film to American audiences on the radio.
Starring Heath Ledger and Bryan Brown, Two Hands is one of those films which depict the comedy of errors that can happen to stupid criminals, along the same lines as "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" or "Reservoir Dogs". But this film is distinctly Australian and set in Sydney around Kings Cross and Bondi Beach. I was instantly attracted to the film on it's release due to having worked with Heath Ledger two years prior and the fact that the soundtrack had lots of great Aussie music that I was into at the time.
Two Hands is a great fast paced action film that also features plenty of funny moments as well. Like a good Tarantino film, it mixes humour, crime and action together quite well. The characters are all likeable even though they are basically thugs and robbers and are played well by the actors. The film was nominated for many awards and won five at the 1999 AFI awards including best film. This is one of those films that you can watch over and over again whenever you feel like the need for some action and humour all thrown together.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
"Priscilla" is a film about a group of Drag Queens (men who dress up as women for a living) who are on a journey not only across the Australian outback in a bus, but are also on a journey of self discovery. Featuring well established actors on the Aussie movie scene at the time in Hugo Weaving and Guy Pierce as well as internationally renowned English actor Terence Stamp. Hugo Weaving has since also gone on to super stardom having been a major player in several big budget films with worldwide success.
This is a film that my homophobic side struggles with! At least it did at the time the movie was released in 1994! But now that I am older and wiser, I can have a good laugh at this great Aussie film without those closed minded masculine ideals that I once held. There is no doubting the quality of this film. It has been a box office success all over the world and even spawned a stage show that reached Broadway in 2011/2012. These feats alone make it a must see film. Even though this film reached mainstream success and critical acclaim, it is still a bit of a cult classic.
He Died with a Felafel in His Hand
This 2001 comedy film was based upon the 1994 novel of the same name by author John Birmingham. It follows the path of a young man as he moves from share house to share house and meets all sorts of weird and wonderful characters. It is a story of love, hate, drug addiction and struggling to get on with life.
It is a great film, that would appeal to most youth and those who have lived in similar situations throughout their lives. Sharing houses with others can be fraught with all sorts of dramas as this movie clearly shows. The book is in itself a cult classic which led to the film also having this cult status. It was also transferred onto the stage as a theatre production. It is perhaps the least known film on this page, but one that is definitely worth watching.
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