Also known as: Hell House (Philippines English title), Terror Fatal (Brazil English title)
Release Date: April 30th, 1982 (Australia)
Directed by: Tony Williams
Written by: Michael Heath, Tony Williams
Music by: Klaus Schulze
Cast: Jackie Kerin, John Jarratt, Gerda Nicolson, Alex Scott
Filmco Limited, The Film House, SIS, 89 Minutes
I had never heard of this ’80s Australian horror flick but Joe Bob Briggs did me a solid when he featured it on the most recent season of The Last Drive-In. Man, what a neat treat it was.
The film is basically a haunted house story but then, is it really? We’re never actually sure whether or not the house is full of vengeful spirits or if it’s all being orchestrated by someone sinister.
The house is an old folks home and the main character inherits this place and is left to run it. Upon her arrival there, old people start dropping like flies, as they’re murdered in strange and brutal ways. The woman is obviously in fear of what’s happening and while it appears like the threat is possibly supernatural in origin, we never see evidence of actual ghosts or demons.
What might be a turnoff for some viewers is that this picture is a real slow burn. But as Joe Bob pointed out while hosting this movie, the slow burn movies usually have the best pay offs. In regards to this one, he wasn’t wrong.
The climax is pretty incredible, actually. And it was made even better by how incredible some of the shots were. The scene where the woman is fleeing the house is cinematic perfection. Additionally, the general cinematography is impressive, especially during the final sequence in the house.
After exiting the house, there is the real climax, which takes place in a diner. This whole part of the film is also well shot and greatly executed.
Overall, Next of Kin was a pleasant surprise and immediately moved up near the top of my list of favorite Australian films.
Plus, it also features a young John Jarratt, who would later go on to be the killer in the Wolf Creek films and television series.
Pairs well with: other Australian horror films.