Cult Projections: Were you much of a horror fan when you signed up to play Mick Taylor? If so, what are some of your favourite horror movies?
John Jarratt: I wouldn’t call myself a fan of any particular genre, I just like good films. The ones I like are the ones that are believable, like Cape Fear and Psycho, those kinds of things. I’m not so much into the Freddy Krueger stuff. I don’t mind the vampire movies, if it’s got a bit of fun in it, some comedy, y’know? I like scary where you think, “Geez, that could happen.” I think they’re very scary. The other ones don’t do it for me so much.
CP: Funny you should say that, because when Wolf Creek was released it was the kind of unbridled, realistic nightmare that a lot of horror movie fans had been waiting years for. Were you concerned at all, at the time, that maybe it was too extreme?
JJ: No, it’s part of what life is, y’know, that’s what happens. And what a good movie business does is mirror what happens in life situations, and it’s been happening since Adam was a boy.
CP: What do you think made Wolf Creek so successful?
JJ: I think, basically, it’s an iconic, outback, Aussie kind of larrikin, in the Croc Dundee kind of tradition, but gone wrong. There was all the entertainment of the larrikin Australian, and then you add psychopath serial killer to the mix and it’s pretty a potent brew, and definitely hard to watch for some, but that’s definitely what drags them in.
CP: Do you know if it was always Greg’s intention to make another Wolf Creek, because there was such a long gap between the two movies?
JJ: We always wanted to make another one, especially if the first one was successful, which it was. It took a long time. He went on to make another big film, straight after that, that took a fair bit of time, then we got down to writing the script, and Greg put the script together, and then I worked with him on it, and we were determined to make it better than the first one, or as good, at least. So it took quite a while to get to that point. And then we had a bit of a problem with one of the investors, the first time round, so we had to re-group, and then suddenly eight years had gone by.
CP: The character of Mick Taylor, certainly by the second film, has become almost an anti-hero, or at the very least, a villain the audience are encouraged to root for. Do you think this was the intent of Greg’s, or did you have a hand in the character’s direction?
JJ: We liked the idea that Mick, in the first one, you only see him in the last half of the movie, but he’s got a great sense of humour. If you took the psychopath serial killer out of him, he’d be a quite a fun bloke to have a beer with, y’know? The comedy works well. Because funny stuff happens to the police in the beginning, our hope was that people were laughing and then thinking, my God, I’m laughing at that, that’s not right! It’s like in Goodfellas when they’re stuffing the guy into the boot and Joe Pesci is so funny, you’re laughing your head off, thinking this isn’t right. I think that’s kinda what we’re going for.
CP: It seems Wolf Creek 2 was designed to appeal to American audiences, and was apparently cut so as to avoid the dreaded US NC-17 certificate -
JJ: No, that’s not right. It was made to entertain the entire planet. MA (15+) was Village Roadshow’s idea, for Australian cinema release, so they could get fifteen-year-olds and above to watch the movie so a little bit of the scary stuff had to be taken out for the cinema release, which enabled them to sell it a lot easier. But the DVD release has got all that stuff back in again.
CP: Okay, gotcha. So in the States then, it will go out domestically “unrated”? Would it be too extreme for the American “R” certificate?
JJ: No, no, from what I can make out it’s on Blu-ray and DVD in the States, exactly the same as ours.
CP: Wolf Creek 2 is less a straightforward horror movie and more of an action-thriller that edges into horror, certainly in the last part of the movie. And the black comedy is much more prevalent than in the first film. Why do you think Greg moved away from the darker tone of the original, at the risk of losing the fans of the original?
JJ: Y’see, I disagree with that. I think, if you look at the first movie, the monster doesn’t come out of the cage ‘til halfway through the film, and when I do come out I’m cracking jokes; “If I tell ya, I’m gonna have to kill ya,” and “That’s not a knife, this is a knife,” and “Sydney – poofter capital of Australia.” There’s gags all the way through it. We threw an F100 off the cliff, and then I chase them in a Mad Max sequence in the Statesman, and to me [Wolf Creek 2 is] just ninety minutes of that, instead of half a film of that. I think he was funny in the first one, and he’s funny in the second one, but you just see a lot more of it. You think it’s different, but it’s not really that different, as far as I’m concerned; in my playing of the character. You get him from the get-go, and it’s ninety minutes of it, rather than fifty minutes of it.
CP: Perhaps it is the audience’s familiarity with Mick Taylor.
JJ: Well, you see more of him, so you learn more about him, but he’s basically doing exactly the same thing as he did in the first one, but he’s doing it through the entire film, and it’s not an F100, it’s a Kenworth. It’s a bigger truck.
JJ: We got a bit more money, but apart from that, we chuck him on a horse, there’s a few different things happening, but it’s basically it’s the same ol’ Mick chasing backpackers. You can’t beat him, you can’t get away from him.
CP: So you and Greg were never concerned during the making of Wolf Creek 2 that you might be running the risk of alienating some of the fans of the first film because of the nature of the second one?
JJ: No, otherwise we wouldn’t have done it! I think we were true to the first one, it’s just that now the monster is out of the cage from the first scene, and you just cop him the entire way, and that makes it more of a chase film than the first one, more of a chase-thriller. But that’s because you’ve gotta fill ninety minutes out with Mick, not fifty.
CP: Both movies claim to be based on true crimes, and there’s the inspiration from serial killer Ivan Milat. Did you read up much about him and his crimes?
JJ: For the first one I read a lot about him, and the second one I didn’t bother, because I’d read about it already.
CP: Who is Mick Taylor to you?
JJ: Well, he’s not Ivan Milat, or any of those; he’s fictitious. If you take the psychopath and the serial killer out of it, the character is based on my dad. A big raw-boned, outdoor kinda guy, very funny, everyone liked being around him, but he was a tough old bastard, took no prisoners, country boy, and he had a really deep voice. I haven’t got a really deep voice, so I put the croaky voice in, and add psychopathic serial killer to that mix, and that’s Mick.
C: And that’s Mick.
JJ: An impersonation of my dad.
CP: Are you confident we’ll be seeing more of the sadistic adventures of Mick Taylor? He may very well become our next Chopper Read!
JJ: Next Chopper Read? That’s weird. Okay. I prefer the next Hannibal Lector, when he did three or four films, than a real person.
CP: I meant as an iconic Australian criminal.
JJ: Oh, okay. Alright.Well, if people are kind enough to buy the movie, and not pirate it, we might make a profit out of Wolf Creek 2. Just become aware if you want to do a pirate download of a movie, do it to a Hollywood blockbuster, not independent films - from any country, not just Australia - and then we might get profits. If you could download a new BMW, that’d soon put an end to it. I think we’re up to a million pirate downloads of the movie already. That’s a lot of money lost.
CP: Yeah, it is a worry.
Wolf Creek 2 has been released on DVD (rated MA) and BD (Director's Cut rated R) by Roadshow.