The students and teachers of Appleyard College, a boarding school for girls, enjoy Valentine’s Day at Hanging Rock, a nearby geologic formation. After frolicking and picnicking in the sun, their fun field trip soon turns to fright when a teacher and three students go missing. All of southeastern Australia searches and wonders if they will ever return.

Bloody Rundown

7Based on Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel, and adapted for the screen by Cliff Green, Picnic at Hanging Rock was directed by the award-winning filmmaker, Peter Weir. Produced by twin brothers, Hal and Jim McElroy, the 1975 film was both a commercial and critical success, and is often regarded as one of Australia’s greatest horror films.

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The film is an astounding art piece with scenes strewn together like a collage of paintings. Russell Boyd, the director of photography, achieved the spectral vision by enshrouding the camera lens with a bridal veil. The music only enhances the artistry. Featuring sounds from the three greats, composer Bruce Smeaton oversaw the score and even included his original music.

6With earnest performances and authentic costumes, Peter Weir’s picturesque picture ominously entices as it is supposedly based on true events. The only horror-worthy aspect of this slow-paced period piece, however, is the layers of garments the women are forced to wear in the scorching heat, that, and, of course, the strict headmistress’ hairdo.

Absent of scares, this snoring bore of an art-house will surely lull a horror fanatic to sleep like a rock; while the ambiguous conclusion will leave the rest of its viewers hanging.

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Die-Anne’s Diatribe

1It took three attempts to watch this movie without falling asleep. Once I finally made it through the end, I was terribly disappointed. There is no conclusion. Furthermore, the entire movie is devoid of creepiness. It is hard to believe that some consider this a horror. I cannot believe I wasted so much time on this film. This synopsis is only written to warn fellow horror fans not to see this movie that has been so highly recommended.

In Peter Weir’s 1989 drama, the filmmaker conveyed the significance of Carpe diem. With that said, I implore all to seize the day and watch one of the many real horror films that have come out from Down Under.

Plot Mutilator

5Set in 1900, three students and their teacher from Appleyard College disappear at Hanging Rock. The mystifying circumstances of the group’s disappearance fail to enthrall. Furthermore, the mystery is prolonged even after one of the missing girls is found: she has no apparent memory of how they vanished. It’s not worth detailing the film.  The enigmatic storyline and, most especially, the open-ended conclusion irritate more than captivate.

Deadly Details

Director ∞ Peter Weir                                          
Producers ∞ Hal McElroy and Jim McElroy
Screenwriter ∞ Cliff Green
Based on ∞ Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
Cinematographer ∞ Russell Boyd
Editor ∞ Max Lemon
Studio ∞ Picnic Productions
Distributor ∞ Greater Union
Release Date ∞ August 1975
Running time ∞ 115 Minutes too long
Country ∞ Australia
Language ∞ English
 
Cast ∞  
Anne-Louise Lambert as Miranda
Rachel Roberts as Mrs. Appleyard
Dominic Guard as Michael Fitzhubert
Helen Morse as Mlle. de Poitiers
Margaret Nelson as Sara
John Jarratt as Albert Crundall
Wyn Roberts as Sgt. Bumpher
Karen Robson as Irma
Christine Schuler as Edith
Jane Vallis as Marion
Vivean Gray as Miss McCraw
Martin Vaughan as Ben Hussey
Kirsty Child as Miss Lumley
Jacki Weaver as Minnie
Frank Gunnell as Mr. Whitehead