UK VHS cover
|Directed by||Brian Trenchard-Smith|
|Produced by||Barbi Taylor|
|Written by||Everett De Roche|
|Music by||Brian May|
|Cinematography||John R. McLean|
|Edited by||Brian Kavanagh|
Middle Reef Productions
|Distributed by||UAA Films (theatrical)
Miramax Films (USA theatrical)
|Box office||A $171,000|
An American boy, Cody (Thomas), whose parents have died, lives in Australia with his guardian, Gaza. Cody is very imaginative, inventive, and inquisitive. He builds things in his garage, including a railbike which he uses to get around. Cody comes across some strange events happening in Devil's Knob national park associated with an Aboriginal myth about "frog Dreamings" and bunyips. Cody tries to investigate. The occurrences revolve around a small lake where a monster the locals call "Donkegin" supposedly lives. Another myth explored by the children is the story of the Kurdaitcha Man who acts as a sort of Australian version of the Boogey Man as well as a supernatural judge who deals out punishment. The children are told that he punishes any wrongs done according to the laws of the ancient Aboriginees including harm to one another, murder of animals without need for food, and destroying the environment (his appearance being most notable according to myth when white men came). The Kurdaitcha Man supposedly wanders the countryside, specifically at night, and wears shoes made of Emu feathers in order to cover any tracks.
With incidents at the lake increasing, Cody fashions a makeshift diving suit and goes into the lake to search, but he never comes back up. Thinking that he has drowned, the townsfolk drain the lake to recover his body. But what they really find is shocking...
The townspeople find that Cody is trapped inside Donkegin, who raises its head and begins to let out an unusual cry. The cry is reminiscent of old, rusted metal. One of the officials recognizes the shape as lights penetrate the greenery that is covering Donkegin and giving it its monstrous appearance.
They discover that Donkegin is in fact an old Donkey engine or a type of excavator or steam-shovel used in construction work years ago. It is also revealed that several other items have accumulated at the bottom of the lake including a car and a bicycle. The locals manage to get Cody out and to safety and dispel the myth of the monster in the lake. The myth of the Kurdaitcha Man is further explored when Cody believes he sees him in a dream-like state putting the Donkey-Engine back into the lake. The Kurdaitcha Man is seen as an older Aboriginee man with the feather shoes.
The film ends with the mystery unfolded and Cody alongside his friends safe and sound with the Kurdaitcha Man and Donkegin still 'living' and active in their minds.
- Henry Thomas as Cody
- Tony Barry as Gaza
- Rachel Friend as Wendy
- Tamsin West as Jane
- John Ewart as Ricketts
- Dempsey Knight as Charlie Pride
- Chris Gregory as Wheatley
- Mark Knight as Henry
- Katy Manning as Mrs. Cannon
- Dennis Miller as Mr. Cannon
The film was originally directed by Russell Hagg. However the producer and writer were not satisfied with progress and tracked down Brian Trenchard-Smith who had just finished an episode of Five Mile Creek and asked him to take over. Trenchard-Smith liked the script and was interested in working with Henry Thomas, so he accepted.
Frog Dreaming grossed $171,000 at the box office in Australia.
(1986 AFI Awards)
|Best Editing||Brian Kavanagh||Won|
|Best Original Music Score||Brian May||Nominated|
|Best Sound||Craig Carter||Nominated|
|Best Production Design||Jon Dowding||Nominated|
- Paul Harris, "Frog Dreaming", Australian Film 1978-1992, Oxford Uni Press, 1993 p198
- Brian Jones, 'A Horse for all courses', Cinema Papers, March 1986 p 28
- Film Victoria - Australian Films at the Australian Box Office