Our cousins from Down Under have never been much for straight up horror movies, aside from the past decade in which they have turned out a lot of American style gore flicks. They may sell well, but it is a true waste of Aussie talent. They have, however, always had an excellent handle on suspense and thrillers with horror undertones. Films such as the gripping LADY STAY DEAD (1981) and the strange 1987 film CASSANDRA, are thrillers working on jangling your nerves, but also adopting American slasher themes and sometimes Italian giallo motifs as well.
Late at night a successful businesswoman is suddenly snatched into the air, has her eyes ripped out and is hung up on a fire escape after trying to get in her car. When a policeman and his K9 companion investigate the blaring car alarm, his dog suddenly drops dead of a heart attack. Apparently this is yet another grisly murder in a string of inexplicable killings. At the same time, a college professor and struggling musician, David Gaze (Mark Hembrow) finds that his vivid and twisted nightmares are actually visions of the murders being committed. So disturbed is he by this, he tries to contact people who he thinks are going to be victims who naturally write him off as missing a few shrimp on his barbie.
To be fair not all of the EXORCIST influences are well conceived. We have shots of the obligatory demon fetishes, a possession scene at the end of the film, but there are also a couple of scenes of furniture flying around on wires that feels like we've taken a way-back ride to a William Castle film. Not that it's a bad thing in a Castle movie, it just undercuts the horror in an otherwise solid modern film (yes, I just called the '80s "modern").