Terror Down Under: A History of Horror Film in Australia, 1897–1973

McFarland. Jul. 2023. 305p. ISBN 9781476688411. pap. $39.95. FILM
Best (Australian Gothic) explores Australian cinema through the lens of horror, a genre targeted by government censors in 1948 to appease religious groups and entertainment watchdogs. As a result, horror was ultimately banned for 20 years. The author spotlights what happened during and after the 1948 horror embargo. The book cites a couple of early Australian horror films, now lost, which Best says failed to gain a foothold due to the cost of film production, government censorship at national and local levels, and collusion between theater companies. Meanwhile, Aussie horror fans were sated by British and American imports, which also had to meet censorship requirements. (This often meant editing to meet state and territorial whims.) Australia also had specific concerns about the influence of movies on Indigenous Australian audiences, so some officials prohibited films in this genre from being shown to them. Beyond this history, Best includes a filmography of horror movies, noting when they were available, whether cinematically or televised, to Australian viewers.
VERDICT This title ably conveys the fickle nature of censorship and skillfully details the history and significance of horror films in Australia.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing