TV Cream

Films: C is for...

Cars That Ate Paris, The

Joining Bruce Beresford in Australia’s emergent wave of home-grown directing talent was Peter Weir, who made this immensely enjoyable low-budget sci-fi romp , in which the inhabitants of a surreally quaint outback town (as with Melbourne suburbs, still stuck in the Victorian era, though in this case they even wear bonnets, stovepipe hats and entertain themselves with mind-numbingly dull tea dances) who engineer accidents for passing cars to keep their community ticking over, until youngsters in souped-up custom cars (including a bondage VW beetle) literally start tearing the town apart. It’s witty, knockabout stuff – basically an extended student film, in the best sense of the phrase. More Victorian types get it in the neck in Weir’s follow-up, the far more conventional and respected Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), based on a not-really-all-that-true story of a bunch of schoolgirls disappearing in mysterious circumstances during the titular outing. Again, it’s all about repressed Old World values getting the boot from the untameable wilderness of the new country.

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