In Australia of 1825, out in the jungle, a Chinese gentleman was panning for gold in the river when he struck lucky: a large nugget he picks up between his fingers and admires as it glistens in the sunlight. Alas, he has not noticed the local who has crept up behind him and is currently pointing a gun in his face, demanding he hand over the treasure which he has no choice but to do. But what was that noise from the forest? The gun-toting man makes good his escape, and quickens his pace now he has heard the strange growls, only to be confronted by a man pointing a pistol in his face instead: the notorious bank robber Thunderclap Newman (Andy Bramble) who liberates the nugget once again. But that noise is getting closer...
Don't go thinking this was the unofficial story of real life robber Thunderclap Newmam in a period-set romp, as the Throwback of the title referred to a cryptozoological beast, possibly myth, possibly real though undiscovered aside from the occasional sighting of... something in the wilderness. Surprisingly, though there had been movies about Bigfoot (or Sasquatch, if you wanted to give him his posh name) and the Yeti, the Yowie from Down Under was under represented in the cinema, a state of affairs low budget filmmaker Travis Bain sought to set right here. With the monster costume his main special effect, he couldn't show too much of it lest the lack of spending money be too apparent.
Therefore as we jump forward to the present day, the Yowie was, when shown at all, kept behind bushes and tree branches so as not to expose the costume as too obviously a man in a suit, that in spite of such things being a rather welcome novelty in these days of computer graphics being the most common proposition for putting the beasties up on screen. Nevertheless, with it often depicted with the sun at its back, Bain did work up a decent enough sense of mystery by way of referencing the similarly camera shy apeman of cult favourite The Legend of Boggy Creek, even putting a bottle of "Boggy Creek" brand wine in the camp scene just in case seasoned viewers were not getting the reference. In effect, however, this was less mockumentary and more adventure.
Adventure with a degree of horror included, as you couldn't have a manbeast with the headripping power of the Yowie (in the film - Yowies have never ripped anyone's head orf in real life as far as we know) without a few splashes of the red stuff in selected moments. The red stuff as in stage blood rather than Boggy Creek wine, that was, but for the most part there was more of a Treasure of the Sierra Madre mood to much of Throwback as it detailed the conflict between two campers out to find the horde of gold left by Thunderclap Newman who mysteriously disappeared a couple of centuries or so ago. Against the odds, but convenient for the plot of a movie, Jack (Shawn Brack) and Kent (Anthony Ring), discover the booty in a cave, but Kent is a tad reluctant to share it.
This results in Kent turning bad guy and trying to drown his former mate, but they are interrupted in their skirmish by the shadowy figure in the bushes, though not before we marvel at Jack's ability to hold his breath for long stretches underwater, a talent coming in handy at least thrice. Added into this mix was a ranger, Rhiannon (Melanie Serafin), who intended to investigate their still-burning fire but winds up embroiled in a mishmash of attempted murder and apeman-related confusion, and for fans of Commando, Bennett himself, Vernon Wells showed up as a detective doing a spot of unofficial investigation to find out what has happened to missing hikers in the region. With the slightly smeary shot on digital images not quite highlighting the scenery to its best effect, a pity when ninety-nine percent was on location, Bain and his team made up for that lack of cash in other ways, with a fairly diverting battle to the death within the small cast rising to the occasion. Throwback was never going to rival major studio horror, but in some ways was preferable. Music by Richard Band and Amotz Plessner.
[Monster Pictures' DVD has about a billion extras packed onto one disc, including behind the scenes production diaries, short films, a commentary, the trailer, Q&As, Wells reading a story, you name it this tells you everything you need to know.]