Australian horror comedy 100 Bloody Acres got mostly rave reviews in the US last week including from major media outlets such as The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
Those plaudits apparently did not stir American cinemagoers as the debut film from the brothers Cameron and Colin Cairnes took just $US3,419 at 13 screens.
However the producers say the primary strategy by the US distributor Doppelgänger Releasing was to position the film on Video-On-Demand platforms and later on DVD and Blu-ray. It was released simultaneously on VOD with the theatrical launch in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Portland and Denver. The VOD results won’t be known for some weeks.
The twisted tale of two brothers (Damon Herriman, Angus Sampson) who ran an organic fertiliser business in the bush using human corpses, it opens in Australia on August 1 via eOne Hopscotch.
Produced by Cyan Films’ Julie Ryan and Kate Croser, the film was funded by Screen Australia, South Australian Film Corporation, Film Victoria and the MIFF Premiere Fund. The cast includes Anna McGahan, Oliver Ackland, Jamie Kristian, John Jarratt and Chrissie Page.
Doppelgänger Releasing parent Music Box Films has a stellar track record with some genre films, achieving big numbers with the VOD/DVD release of the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
“We’re all thrilled that US critics love our film and are comparing it to Shaun of the Dead which crossed over from horror fans to a wider audience,” Ryan told IF.” Our film also has that potential because it also achieves the right balance of comedy and gore.
“The box-office figures aren’t indicative of how the film is being received because our distributor, Music Box, is positioning the film for VOD release. The film is going out on a variety of VOD platforms – iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Vudu – so it’s going to be a while before we get an idea of how it played.”
One Australian executive who is familiar with the US VOD market said he thought a title like 100 Bloody Acres could clock 50,000 transactions or more, typically priced at $US6.99 to rent online and $US14.99 to own .
Typifying the enthusiastic reviews, the Los Angeles Times’ Mark Olsen said the film “somehow manages to be both retro and up to date with its giddy, delightful gross-out horror-comedy mash-up storytelling.”
Olsen continued, “The film revels not only in the flying body parts but also its erstwhile rom-com entanglements. There is something extra fun in seeing 100 Bloody Acres as a self-conscious throwback to the sort of Australian exploitation films explored a few years back in the documentary Not Quite Hollywood.
“With a fun post-credits gag to round it off, 100 Bloody Acres is great summer counterprogramming for anyone who wants to unwind with a bit of bloody fun and goofball gore.”
The New York Times’ Jeannette Catsoulis was a bit more restrained, observing the writers-directors “break plenty of bones but no new ground in the camp-horror genre. Yet this fairly rote tale of rural ghouls and their passing-through prey has its own hick charm, mostly because of performers who never overplay their hands. Those who have hands, that is, as not all the actors make it to the end of the movie with a full complement of limbs.”
Fangoria’s Vivienne Vaughn sparked to what she described as a “ delightful and decidedly Australian comedy in which the characters find themselves in a rather horrific situation, with the resulting shenanigans strewn with bursts of fun gore.
“The film is saturated in Australian dialect, slang and humor, and further pays homage to the culture with the quirky soundtrack. There is a deliberate amount of attention paid to character development—always a welcome trait in genre films—and the actors bring strong ability to their respective characters. 100 Bloody Acres is wonderfully bizarre, and worth a viewing for anyone with a taste for horror/comedy.”
Chud.com’s David Oliver lauded the film as probably the most charming gorefest he’d ever seen, comparing it to the works of the Coen brothers, particularly Fargo.