I remember (though if someone looks, maybe this is wrong…) that I liked parts of the movie. A lot of the long shots, for instance. There were various points in the movie where I really did like the way certain shots were set up and executed.
At least I think. :)
It’s been a while, but I remember that because it was 30 movies in 30 days, I was viewing it through a lens of how it related to other films we’d watched. Specifically, I think I remember that TCSM didn’t make me particularly care about its characters – and I remember being disappointed because I thought that it could have, and without much effort to do that, and it could have in ways that would never break up its internal rhythm.
I’m not sure I wrote it, but I what I remember now was that the movie made me feel awful. Because I didn’t care about the characters really…but then again, I also thought it was gratuitously cruel to them at times. And whether I said so at the time or not (I can’t remember, and I haven’t looked yet), I felt kind of really icked-out that my initial reaction was almost…dispassion? Like, I didn’t care about the characters at all, really, so If they’d been killed I dunno…more cleanly? Off screen? Something like that? If that’d happened, then I could continue to not care about them. But it felt cheap and gross that the only way the movie could make me feel anything about the teenagers was to murder (or torture, can’t remember) them in increasingly cruel and over-the-top ways. So, instead of making you care for this girl by sparing a couple of 30-second scenes that force you to empathize with her through dialogue, or even exchanged looks or something mild…they felt like they had to hit her with a hammer a couple of times for me to hope she didn’t die.
What’s really interesting to me here is how the movies that you and I may have seen since have colored our perceptions of this film. Of the films you mention, I’ve only seen Picnic At Hanging Rock and Mad Max, though I sure as hell have added those others to my viewing list now! But it’s interesting that you’re able to see TCSM in a different light now that you’re referencing those movies.
In the meantime, I may or may not have done a very deep dive on American drive-in rarities of the early to mid 1970s. :D Lots of gore for gore’s sake. Lot’s of kids getting high. Lots of gratuitous nudity. And without having re-watched TCSM again, I’d sort of now classify it as a part of this really weird little micro-genre of movie from the 1970s – the van/sex/shocking deaths movie. No really, there are like 5 or 6 movies like this! Hitchhikers are picked up. Drugs are consumed (usually just pot, but pot was very much demonized in these films.) Sex is had. More drugs. And then someone freaks out on their drugs and some number of teenagers is shockingly killed in the end. Fade to credits.
So I think I might at some point watch this again, but I’m first going to need to see Wake In Fright, Raven’s Gate, Razorback, etc. first, so that when I’m watching this the first thing that occurs to me isn’t a trashy exploitation movie like Pick-up.
Also, what it is about Australia and astonishing long-lensed films? John Duigan’s first film, The Year My Voice Broke (with a teenaged Noah Taylor and Ben Mendelsohn) is a fine movie – sort of an Australian Lucas but with more gravitas…but it’s like a teen coming-of-age movie as lensed by Haskell Wexler or Terrence Malick.