Women in Horror Month (WiHM) is an international, grassroots initiative, which encourages supporters to learn about and showcase the underrepresented work of women in the horror industries. Whether they are on the screen, behind the scenes, or contributing in their other various artistic ways, it is clear that women love, appreciate, and contribute to the horror genre. Psycho Drive-in is joining in by sharing articles – some classic, some new – celebrating the greatest women in the genre! [Editor’s Note: Versions of this article were originally published on August 26, 2014 and April 7, 2015] Some of the best low/no budget horror filmmaking in the world has come out of Australia over the past few years. And when it comes to featuring women in the lead, kicking ass and taking names, two of the most entertaining examples are Murderdrome and Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead. When you’re working with practically no budget but you want to make a movie about a demonic serial killer stalking an Australian Roller Derby team, you get a lot of leeway. Especially when it’s your first feature length film and it grew out of an idea for an online short originally planned as four five-minute segments. Murderdrome isn’t the most polished horror movie you’re going to see, but goddammit it’s got heart. And blood. And Roller Derby girls. Directed by Daniel Armstrong and starring Amber Sajben as Cherry Skye, Murderdrome tells the somewhat chaotic and decidedly rambunctious tale of the return of the monstrous Momma Skate (Be-On The-Rocks) who was murdered and sent to hell years earlier and now is back to swap souls with Cherry Skye and rain down murder and mayhem on any Roller Derby girl who gets in her way. And pretty much all of the Roller Derby girls get in her way. With a fun, charismatic cast, an amazing soundtrack, and visual effects that go above and beyond, Murderdrome is a lot of fun. Special shouts outs should go to co-writer and ex-real-life-Derby girl Louise Monnington as Psych (credited as Cyndi Lawbreaker), the punk with a short-fuse and a heart of gold, Daisy Masterman as Princess Bitchface, the only voice of reason in the film, Rachael Blackwood as femme fatale Hell Grazer (who for someone who couldn’t skate, did an excellent job staying on her feet while being suitably menacing), and Dayna Seville as Clit Eastwards, who made sure something interesting was going on in whichever scene she was in. The rest of the cast is clearly having a lot of fun, too, but these ladies really sold it. Ashley Smart should also be singled out for praise here because the visual effects in this film are extremely impressive. There are moments where the past and the present overlap and with little to no money, he was able to provide effects that easily stand up to similar efforts in the big-budget Silent Hill films. Be warned, though. They didn’t have enough money for a continuity person, forcing them to wing it and try to keep things straight from scene to scene. But when shooting on weekends and during spare time over quite a while, you’re going to get glitches and errors scattered throughout the film. In addition to this, there were the standard issues that you get with low/no budget films where locations are no longer available when pick-up shoots are required, so you do what you have to do to get the picture made. This is how it’s done, folks. These guys and gals are warriors and the finished product isn’t spotless, but it’s handmade and beautiful for all the bumps and dents along the way. The DVD release from Strongman Pictures and Camp Motion Pictures is a nice package with an audio commentary by director Daniel Armstrong, visual effects supervisor Ashley Smart, cinematographer Brendan O’Shea, and most of the Derby girls, including Amber Sajben, Louise Monnington, Kat Anderson, and Gerry Mahoney. It’s chaotic and funny with occasional bits of insight for young filmmakers — mostly of the “don’t do this” or “here’s how this went wrong” variety. Most of the insights above come straight from it. If a demonic roller derby film isn’t quite up your alley, Strongman Pictures Entertainment followed Murderdrome up with From Parts Unknown: Fight Like a Girl, which tells the simply awe-inspiring tale of Charlie (Jenna Dwyer), who, after seeing her father die in the wrestling ring, dedicates her life to becoming a wrestling champion. Then, thanks to a secret experiment gone awry, the zombie apocalypse begins and Charlie must use her wrestling prowess to, what else? Kill zombies! This was followed recently by Sheborg Massacre, where an alien menace crash lands on a puppy farm and starts turning people into cybernetic monsters who feed on puppy flesh. This is too much for self-styled tough girl/punk activist Dylan (Whitney Duff) and her BFF Eddie (Daisy Masterman) to take, so they set out to kick some alien cyborg ass. This one’s still looking for international distribution, but if either of Strongman’s previous efforts are any indication, Sheborg Massacre should be more fun than humanly possible. Next up, we ask the question, What if George Miller and Peter Jackson had a zombie rage-baby? Then that baby would be Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead. What? You want more than that? Okay, let’s start again. Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead is the Australian zombie-action feature film debut from Kiah Roache-Turner and Tristan Roache-Turner. It was filmed over four years of weekend shoots and cost an estimated $160,000 dollars ($37,000 of which was raised via Indiegogo), but may actually have up to a million dollars’ worth of work on the screen thanks to performers and crew deferring payments. That’s the fucking definition of a labor of love. It may also be the definition of madness. Wyrmwood is a chaotic grindhouse explosion of gore, violence, and jokes that isn’t going to be for everyone, but if you’re a splatter fan with a twisted sense of humor (and don’t take yourself too seriously), you’re probably going to love this. The story is bare-bones, but there are narrative innovations scattered throughout that liven up what could be stale ideas and present a zombie apocalypse unlike any other. First up, we’re dealing with the familiar “group of strangers have to come together to survive the zombie apocalypse” topos with a touch of biblical Armageddon for flavoring. We’ve got Benny (Leon Burchill) who opted to shoot the leg off of his zombie brother rather than kill him the morning after a strange meteor shower that triggered the zombie infection of seemingly random people all over the world (?). He meets up with Barry (Jay Gallagher), a mechanic who had to kill his wife and daughter and is now driven to find his sister, Brooke (Bianca Bradey), an artist who has been captured by what may or not be a mobile government lab run by a mad scientist (Berynn Schwerdt). Along the way, Benny and Barry are joined by Frank (Keith Agius) and together discover that during the day the zombies breathe methane which inspires Barry to rig up a zombie-fueled armored truck that would be right at home in The Road Warrior. The Roache-Turners have come up with a clever way of having both the slow-moving and sprinting zombies that kind of makes sense and follows the internal logic of the film, as well as come up with a novel concept for the initial spread of infection. What they’ve also done (there’s really a lot going on here!) is craft an origin story for Brooke, who is transformed into a zombie-controlling superhero of sorts, which sets up the potential for any number of sequels. What they’ve also done (there’s really a lot going on here!) is craft an origin story for Brooke, who is transformed into a zombie-controlling superhero of sorts, which sets up the potential for any number of sequels. And this is really where the film shines. Bianca Bradey is a kick-ass zombie fighter who, after being experimented on, gains the power to control the undead – to an extent. It’s an intense and energetic performance and if you leave the film with nothing else, it will be an obsession with Bradey. She was nominated for a best actress the 2014 Fantastic Fest in Austin Texas and has since been lighting up Australian television in Starting From… Now, and showed up in the horror anthology A Night of Horror Volume 1 (2015). Her next big gig will be in Scandinavia’s first superhero movie, Rendel, and she’s just been cast in the upcoming Austrailian comic book adaptation, Nancy in Hell. Word on the street is that she will be also be returning to fight zombies in the highly anticipated Wyrmwood TV – a potential 10-part hardcore zombie apocalypse series! The Roache-Turners have just finished shooting a teaser that will be used to shop the show around. To keep up on the latest developments, be sure to follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wyrmwoodmovie/! Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response Bad Blood (2017) - Psycho Drive-In October 12, 2017 […] by Patrick Edgeworth, writer of Raw Deal (1977) and BMX Bandits (1983). We’re huge fans of Aussie film here at Psycho Drive-In, singing the praises of films like Murderdrome, From Parts Unknown: Fight […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.