Ten Aussie Sequels That Never Happened

July 1, 2020
The Australian film industry has never been that great at making sequels.

Normally, the movies aren’t successful enough, or suit a sequel, or even if they are and they do, the filmmakers want to make something else instead first, leading to weirdly long gaps between sequels (eg. six years until The Man from Snowy River 2, nine years between Wolf Creeks).

The sequel is a much-maligned art form in this country, but some of our greatest films are sequels – Mad Max 2, Mad Max Fury Road, Dad and Dave Come to Town, Melvin Son of Alvin.

Stephen Vagg thought he would have a look at ten Aussie sequels which almost (but didn’t) happened.

1) A Third Barry McKenzie film

The first two Barry McKenzie films were unicorns, i.e. Australian movies that were solid, profitable hits; it says a lot about the Australian industry that there were so few attempts to repeat its success. There was talk of doing a third Bazza – Barry Humphries mentioned having a vague plot about McKenzie going to New York and crossing with drug dealers, which he claims was ripped off by Crocodile Dundee (as if that plot wasn’t old in 1951). The movie never happened – I think Bruce Beresford and Barry Humphries both had too many other projects. Was it a good or bad thing? I would have loved to see Humphries skewer the Americans in the ‘70s and it would have likely been better than Les Patterson Saves the World… but I think the idea’s time has passed. Unless… Melvin: Son of Bazza?

The ending of Barry McKenzie Holds His Own below.

2) The Dead of Night

Tomorrow When the War Began (2010) was based on John Marsden’s novel, which was the first in a series of seven books (plus three more Ellie Chronicles). When the film made over $10 million, it seemed natural that there would be a sequel, and while plans were announced (the second book was called The Dead of Night), there were no more movies, which is a damn shame, especially as (a) the books are fabulous (b) the sequels didn’t have to cost as much as the first one did and (c) the TV series version which followed (that everyone seems to pretend never existed) was not great. No one’s asking for my take but here goes – turn the first seven novels into a trilogy, adapting one, then two and three, then four to seven. Worth a reboot. (If you’re worried about race stuff cast POC actors as the heroes and whites as the invaders.)

3) Goodbye Adelaide

A proposed sequel to the koala noir Goodbye Paradise (1983), which was about private eye Ray Stacey (Ray Barrett) on the Sir Joh-era Gold Coast. This second film would be about Stacey running riot at the Adelaide Festival, promoting his novel that he was working on in the original, and getting involved with a Russian defector and other odd characters. A script was written by Bob Ellis and Denny Lawrence (who penned the first), but the movie never resulted – Goodbye Paradise had not been a big hit, and I gather Barrett was a handful. Still, this is definitely a film I would have loved to have seen – the original is fantastic.

Here’s a clip.

4) Escape of the Panther

A proposed sequel to the kung fu epics Day of the Panther (1988) and Strike of the Panther (1988) (shot back to back in Perth by Brian Trenchard-Smith), but those films did not do the required business; Trenchard-Smith told me that he had never heard of a third movie, though it was listed in Cinema Papers. I can’t weep too much that a third Panther didn’t happen – the first is fun in a cheesy straight to video way but the quality drops off sharply for number two. (Of course, the kung fu sequel Trenchard-Smith should have made is The Man from Hong Kong 2 but apparently there were never any plans.)

5) Patrick 2 – The Man Who Wasn’t There

The thriller Patrick (1978), written by Everett de Roche and directed by Richard Franklin, was very popular internationally and there was interest in a sequel. Producer Tony Ginnane told me that de Roche wrote a treatment based on a poem about a haunted house and Franklin was set to direct – but then Franklin got caught up with Road Games (1981) and The Blue Lagoon (1980) and it never happened. This is a shame – I think Patrick 2 would have been awesome.

6) Harlequin 2

Another Ginnane thriller, Harlequin (1980), directed by Simon Wincer, had also been a success internationally and the producer had plans for a sequel, but these were delayed when he got caught up with The Survivor (1980) and Race for the Yankee Zephyr (1981), and the film eventually did not happen. For a commercially-minded producer, Ginnane was surprisingly non-enthusiastic about sequels; he told me this was due to his desire to explore new material, but also because his experience with a sequel, the soft core Fantasm Comes Again (1977) led him to agree “with the view at the time that often – not always – budgets go up, audiences either stay the same or reduce, and the net is often less.” I actually think it’s a shame – the mythology of Harlequin had great “legs”, and a second film might have fixed up some of the flaws of the first while repeating its pleasures.

7) Bombay Banana

When Alan Hopgood wrote Pacific Banana (1980, directed by John Lamond), he threatened/dreamed of kicking off a long-running series of similar sex comedies set in exotic locations, with titles like Tokyo Banana and Guyana Banana. Alan Hopgood is a very talented man and Pacific Banana has its pleasures, but I don’t think the world missed out from this not eventuating.

8) Felicity in the Garden of Pleasure

John Lamond wanted to make a sequel to his soft-core epic Felicity (1979), no doubt dreaming of his own Emmanuelle franchise. For a while, the South Australian Film Commission got on board, sensing money, and agreed to provide up to $100,000 – but then reversed their decision. It was the right call – there’s a place for erotica in our industry (and still is) but if Felicity in the Garden of Pleasure should exist, then the market should pay for it.

9) The Bed

This was a proposed sequel to Libido (1973), an anthology movie which consisted of four stories about sex, providing an early feature credit for such names as David Williamson, Jack Thompson, Tim Burstall, Fred Schepisi and Judy Morris. The Bed would have been four stories revolving around a brass bed, written by Alan Marshall, Morris Lurie, John Powers and Max Richards, to be directed by Mal Bryning, Ross Dimsey, Simon Wincer and Rod Kinnear. I assume the female cast would have been required to be nude. Burstall says the idea was to do one anthology movie a year, which would have been fantastic (maybe the third one could have even, you know, with a female writer or director), and economically viable – the British company Amicus was having a lot of success then with horror anthologies, and there was a market for anything about sex at the time (Libido was a hit). But, according to Burstall, the success of the original movie caused trouble moving forward, and by the time everyone got their act together, they could not raise finance.

10) Rangle River 2

Rangle River (1936) was (arguably) the first movie made in Australia financed by a Hollywood studio, Columbia. It’s a meat pie Western with a simplistic plot about water rights, and a kinky whip duel. It did well enough that Columbia were considering a sequel, especially when it was considered the New South Wales government were going to introduce a film quota; it didn’t (alas) and Columbia backed off. (Incidentally, the producers of The Kangaroo Kid (1950) also planned sequels, then decided against it – the market was drying up for B westerns in the 1950s).

And for the sheer hell of it, here is a list of films that I think could be sequel-ised, even if it’s late in the day.

The Sapphires – that cast is sensational, you could do a reunion story, they can go back to Vietnam if needed just fudge the time line a little (Aussie troops were there until 1972)

Crocodile Dundee – don’t groan, fourth film coming to Amazon Prime in July!

Mad Max – you could make these films forever.

The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert – the son in that movie would be old enough to be performing drag by now. You wouldn’t need the original cast if they got too sniffy about money – you could recast.

Ladies in Black – you could get more story out of those women, and boomer audiences would love to see that store go through the sixties.

The Castle – I genuinely would be interested to see what Working Dog would do with the Kerrigans in 2021.

Looking for Alibrandi – Josie and the bloke could meet up twenty years down the track… Pia Miranda and Kick Gurry are still attractive enough for a romantic comedy involving them to be interesting.

Kenny – shit never dates and Shane Jacobson never ages.

The Man from Hong Kong – Jimmy Wang Yu is dead but Roger Ward and Brian Trenchard-Smith are still around. Just have the star be the guy’s son.

Puberty Blues – the lives of the two girls who wrote that original book has enough material for at least five movies – indeed, it seems to have inspired a few already, Bridget Jones’ Diary and Just Us (1986)

The author wishes to thank Mark Hartley, Tony Ginnane and Brian Trenchard-Smith for their assistance with this article.

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Comments

  1. Michael Potter

    ‘(If you’re worried about race stuff cast POC actors as the heroes and whites as the invaders.)’ OK then. Mr Vagg… your rock misses you.

  2. Gary Stanza

    Not crocodile Dundee 4, it’s a fake bio whatever they call em comedy about hoges being knighted for comedy and stuffing it up

  3. David

    there was a sequel planned for struck by lightning

    “A sequel to this film was planned. The production notes for ‘Struck by Lightning’ state that in the intended sequel, Ollie Rennie and Pat Cannizzaro no sooner make a success of the sheltered workshop, than Rennie decides the concept is outmoded and the trainees should be leading independent lives in the real world. According to producer-screenwriter Trevor Farrant, it was already beginning to happen. He said: “Small groups are setting up houses in the suburbs, living their lives. To anyone who doubts their chances, we say, look at our film, look at them on the screen, acting and being terrific at it. It’s like the rest of us climbing Mount Everest before breakfast every day of the week.”

    Also planned sequels include me and my mates vs zombie Apocalypse, but never got up, the gateway also has a sequel planned.

    P.s.

    Bmx bandits 2 what could of been.

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