Variety Artists Club of New Zealand

The Premier Association for Entertainers and Performing Artists in NZ

NEWS AND EVENTS - Most appreciated New Zealand movies

New Zealand cinema has been known for decades to produce films of explicit violence, murders and kidnappings that shocked their audiences. Before looking at the Kiwi cinematography as an endless pit of morbid, dark stories a new current has made its way among the filmmakers of this nation: the comedy horror genre. With impressive releases that leave you hanging on the edge of your seat before bursting into laughter this group of upcoming directors show that they can have a little fun without finishing the story on a low tone.

The first New Zealand movie to catch the attention of international audiences was Once Were Warriors. The 1994 release by director Lee Tamahori, and based on Alan Duff’s bestselling novel showed the extremely violent nature of Maori gangs in urban confinements that eventually led to domestic disputes with tragic consequences.

Heavenly Creatures of 1995 put a huge spotlight on a prodigy director by the name of Peter Jackson. The future creator of the spectacular trilogy Lord of the Rings had taken on the difficult job of telling the story of the Parker-Hulme case of 1954 that saw the brutal assassination of Pauline Parker’s mother. The film gathered general acclaims and introduced the audience to another future star, Kate Winslet.

Before adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy and even before Heavenly Creatures, Jackson had released Braindead in 1994. The film is a low-budget horror comedy that parodied the zombie apocalypse movies of the 1950’s and became an instant cult classic that opened the door for other Kiwi filmmakers to try their hand at this genre.

As it was the case, the next two decades saw the releases of Black Sheep (2006), a Hitchcockian tale of zombie sheep that ravage the New Zealand countryside; Housebound (2014) – an offbeat comedy about the haunted home of an immature slack that is condemned to house arrest, and What We Do in the Shadows (2015), a dark mockumentary that follows the lives of four vampires who struggle to adapt to 21st century living.