by Anthony O'Connor

It’s always a pleasure to see an Aussie film punch well above its weight, and even more so when said film is a scrappy indie horror/action/comedy that harkens back to the proud days of Ozploitation. Such is the case with soon-to-be-released Wyrmwood: Apocalypse, sequel to the cult hit Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014).

FilmInk scribe Anthony O’Connor, already a fan of the flick, got some chin wagging time with director/co-writer Kiah Roache-Turner (right) to ask some probing questions. First up, how did a relatively low budget production realise such a wealth of spectacular action?

“It’s weird. Even I look at it and go, ‘How the hell did we do that on that budget?’ And you know what? I had the same note from every head of department… And I don’t know how we did it, but we did it,” Kiah laughs good naturedly. “Actually, I do know how we did it. Everybody broke their arse. It was horrible and difficult and sweaty, and there were tears and blood, just like the first one. But it’s one of those things where you get to the end of it and go, ‘Oh, no, I broke a few people again,’ but everybody’s happy.”

In between Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead and Wyrmwood: Apocalypse, Kiah and brother/producer/co-writer Tristan released Nekrotronic (2018), a much bigger budgeted proposition and a very different experience for the indie-to-the-core Roache-Turner bros.

“When somebody gives you ten million dollars to make a film, and the only other film you’ve made was made in your mum’s backyard, they don’t trust you. And nor should they,” Kiah explains. “And so, every single creative decision we made on Nekrotronic was made by seven people, or four people, sometimes three, but not by me and Tristan. The original film that we set out to make, was not the film that we made. Having said that, I think Nekrotronic is super fun!

“I learned so much making Nekrotronic. I got to work with Monica Bellucci! That’s fantastic. She is my nineties crush, man, and here I am directing her. And just to work with these super smart people was great. It turned me from a little boy into a filmmaking man. But also a filmmaking man who knows that he probably works better with more creative control. And so, maybe that means lower budgets, or I just have to make a film that makes so much money that people trust this face.”

So, what is it about Wyrmwood that keeps bringing the passionate director back? “I think this is just my Star Wars. I could just do this forever. We just cottoned onto a cool idea. The whole idea of blending Mad Max with Dawn of the Dead, it’s one of those things where you’re like, ‘Oh, why didn’t I think of that?’ Just the idea that Tristan came up with, with the zombies breathing methane, that’s the only substance that you can run your car on, and your barbecue and your generator. It’s just funny. And that world is cool. There’s something about it where you’re just like, ‘Oh, yeah!’ I mean, there’s just endless permutations of that. It’s a world that’s set up to be fun. You can’t get it wrong. It’s director proof!”

Wyrmwood: Apocalypse will have a limited cinema release from February 10, and Kiah has a message for film fans about it: “Not to be boring, but really, I urge people to see it in the cinema, because the sound design and the head explosions are phenomenal. And if you’re going to watch an insane thrill ride of a screeching, crazy zombie film, you should watch it on a 20 foot silver screen with Dolby surround sound. Don’t watch it on your iPhone. But also because, if you buy a ticket and you get your friends to buy a ticket, and enough of you and your friends buy those tickets, then I’ll start writing Wyrmwood 3 tomorrow. It’s that simple. Like, if you buy it, the film will come. It’s the Field of Dreams thing. But if you just download it for free, then no Wyrmwood 3. It’s that simple.”

And if the fates allow, are there any dream projects in the future? “Hopefully, if Wyrmwood: Apocalypse does even vaguely good business, I might be able to move slowly up in budget. And hopefully one day, I’ll be able to make a Punisher movie!”

Wyrmwood: Apocalypse releases in Australian cinemas on February 10, 2022


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