HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Black Bear
Don't Cry, Pretty Girls!
Portal
Me You Madness
Reckoning, The
Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies
For the Sake of Vicious
Hell Bent
Straight Shooting
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
Man They Could Not Hang, The
Final Days
Frightened City, The
Assimilate
Sequin in a Blue Room
Common Crime, A
Into the Labyrinth
Power, The
Wake of Death
Night Orchid
Mortal
Iron Mask, The
Dinosaur
Personal History of David Copperfield, The
Dove, The
Collective
Charulata
Minari
Violation
Defending Your Life
Champagne Murders, The
He Dreams of Giants
Lost in America
Take Back
Honeydew
Banishing, The
Drifters, The
Gushing Prayer
Escape from Coral Cove
Swan Princess, The
   
 
Newest Articles
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
   
 
  Fortress Let's kill Santa
Year: 1986
Director: Arch Nicholson
Stars: Rachel Ward, Sean Garlick, Elaine Cusick, Laurie Moran, Marc Aden, Ray Chubb, Bradley Meehan, Rebecca Rigg, Beth Buchanan, Asher Keddie, Anna Crawford, Richard Terrill, Vernon Wells, Peter Hehir, David Bradshaw
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Schoolteacher Sally Jones (Rachel Ward) manages a classroom of seven children in the remote Australian outback. One morning she and her students are kidnapped at gunpoint by a band of ruthless criminals who hide their faces beneath a Santa Claus mask and other childish disguises. Imprisoned in an underground cave while the crooks wait for the ransom money, Sally and the kids must rely on their own ingenuity to escape this nightmare.

Fortress, not to be confused with the 1992 Stuart Gordon directed Christopher Lambert science fiction action movie of the same name, is an unjustly forgotten Australian thriller based on a novel by Gabrielle Lord. The story was loosely based on a real-life incident in 1972 when criminals Edwin John Eastwood and Robert Clyde Boland abducted a class full of kids and their teacher from the Faraday School. Eastwood later escaped from prison and repeated the crime with another teacher and her class in 1977, making it all the more ironic he drew inspiration from a sequence in the iconic cop thriller Dirty Harry (1971) where the kidnapping was foiled by his namesake, Clint Eastwood.

Scripted by Everett de Roche, who seems to have written virtually every genre movie to emerge from Australia, the film like many of its type expertly evokes the unsettling eeriness of the outback. The cinematography by David Connell establishes an ominous mood right from the outset and remains a crucial asset throughout suspenseful sequences like Sally’s nightmarish struggle underwater or the children’s frightening trek through the dark, foggy woods. However, Danny Beckermann’s cheesy synth score undermines some of the drama and renders a few, would be shocking scenes somewhat laughable - including our first glimpse of the kidnappers in their party masks - while a few of the gory gags seem crass and unnecessary.

Nevertheless, the film is firmly in the tradition of Australian survivalist cinema. Only by learning how to endure and negotiate the tricky landscape can the kids hope to outwit their captors. Sally fashions a lamp using a tin can, a piece of string and some salad dressing, while each of the kids possess some survival skills that prove useful. Coming off the hit miniseries The Thorn Birds, Rachel Ward was arguably the biggest star in Australia at the time. She delivers a curiously uneven performance, exceptional at times while at others bizarrely stiff. Miss Jones is a calm, level headed, relentlessly practical heroine. She treats their ordeal like an unorthodox school trip, complete with sing-a-longs, although director Arch Nicholson includes the odd moment where her nerve snaps while the payoff does offer an intriguing insight to her and her young charges state of mind.

The children are realistically drawn, if occasionally exasperating. Mouthy Tommy (Marc Aden), big bully Derek, whiny Leanne (Beth Buchanan), and tiny tots Toby (Richard Terrill), Sue (Asher Keddie) and Richard (Bradley Meehan) squabble, cry and make dumb mistakes, while the older Narelle (Rebecca Rigg) is sensitive about her developing body and understandably unnerved when the crooks take lascivious interest. Even the resourceful Sid (Sean Garlick) can’t help but gawk at the naked, wet Sally while they explore an underground stream. However, the little horrors jump at the chance to finally fight back during a tense mountaintop finale where they improvise some nasty mantraps. It’s not quite Lord of the Flies, but Arch Nicholson implies these young outbackers are only a step away from feral monsters, something underlined in the nicely handled coda, which is equal parts triumphant and unnerving.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2794 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Stately Wayne Manor
   

 

Last Updated: