Turtle Beach (film)

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Turtle Beach
Turtle Beach film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stephen Wallace
Produced by Matt Carroll
Greg Coote
Graham Burke
Arnon Milchan
Screenplay by Ann Turner
Based on Turtle Beach by
Blanche d'Alpuget
Music by Chris Neal
Cinematography Russell Boyd
Edited by Louise Innes
Lee Smith
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • 19 March 1992 (1992-03-19) (Australia)
  • 1 May 1992 (1992-05-01) (U.S.)
Running time
90 minutes
Country Australia
Language English
Box office $778,535[1]

Turtle Beach (a.k.a. The Killing Beach) is a 1992 Australian film directed by Stephen Wallace and starring Greta Scacchi and Joan Chen. The screenplay was written by Ann Turner, based on the novel of the same name by Blanche d'Alpuget. It caused controversy in Malaysia where the Government took exception to scenes of Malays executing refugees.[2]


Judith, an Australian photojournalist (Greta Scacchi), leaves her family to cover the story of Vietnamese boat people in a Malaysian refugee camp. There she befriends Minou, a Vietnamese streetwalker (Joan Chen), who has married a diplomat and together they try to bring awareness to the terrible conditions suffered by the people there.

Principal cast[edit]

Actor Role
Greta Scacchi Judith
Joan Chen Minou
Jack Thompson Ralph
Art Malik Kanan
Norman Kaye Hobday
Victoria Longley Sancha
Martin Jacobs Richard


Ann Turner was working for Roadshow when she was hired to adapt the novel, which she loved.[3] However she says the project soon became compromised:

When I first saw the film I thought it looked like the writer was on drugs or completely insane, because you could see there were two films working within the one film... There were a lot of different voices in terms of the finance-raising, there was American money, and the producers - many, plural - really had very different views of what the film should be. Greta Scacchi really liked the book and liked the script and fought for it. But during the process of developing the script, they brought in an American writer and it really changed. I was off directing Police Rescue at the time. Then the cast, when they were in Thailand, said they'd signed on the script that I'd written and wanted to change it back to that. There was something about the American script that was more like King Rat than Turtle Beach. So then I was flown out to Thailand to rewrite the rewrite and the film ended up actually being a combination of both.[3]

The movie was financed in part by the people who had invested in Blood Oath, directed by Stephen Wallace. They were enthusiastic about that film and hired Wallace to direct. Wallace:

I loved the book and I really wanted to make the film. I think in the end the script really wasn't good enough and I had a terrible run-in with the producer on it. It was just a nightmare. I wanted to make a film about Asia again, because I thought Asia was misunderstood in Australia and I thought the more light we can shed on Asians, the better... But unfortunately in the film, it all went haywire ... The producers all wanted to make Pretty Woman. I said, "It's not Pretty Woman, it's a film about Asia." I had to fight to get an Indian to play the Indian; it was a struggle from start to finish. There was plenty of money, but I kept compromising on it. I kept compromising about the place where the beach was, about the roughness of the set. I wanted it really rough. Then there was this whole thing about the disco place, which was actually Matt Carroll's idea, something he'd seen in Thailand... Also the massacre on the beach. Everyone was worried, the massacre had to be built up, whereas the massacre was wrong - emotionally and morally wrong. All this was pushed and I felt I'd lost control of the film.[4]

The Australian Film Finance Corporation invested $5,248,857 in the film.[5]

Stephen Wallace finished the film and made his cut but then he was fired off the film. Extra scenes were shot:

I should have taken my name off it. I got advised by my agents not to, but I should have. I don't feel the film is mine. A lot of the shots are mine, but extra stuff was shot and my name is on it, so I've got to take responsibility for it. But it's the one film I've made that I feel ashamed of... it was Matt Carroll who made it.[4]


Turtle Beach grossed $359,881 at the box office in Australia and $778,535 in the United States.[6] Wallace has not directed another feature since. He says making this wrecked his feature film career.[4]

Ozmovies says of the release:

The film was a flop, and notoriously and jokingly came to be dubbed Turkey Beach by some film pundits. Roadshow reverted to the old trick of opening the show without reviewer previews, which almost guaranteed a jaundiced response. The film didn’t do as badly as some early FFC films - at least it scored a theatrical release and turned a little coin - but relative to budget and considering the name cast and controversies surrounding it, the result was both a commercial and a critical misfire.[7]


  • "Rock-A-Beatin' Boogie" performed by Bill Haley
  • "Fly Away" performed by Simone Dee
  • "Come on Boys" performed by Simone Dee

Critical reception[edit]

Chris Hicks of Deseret News:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Turtle Beach (1992)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  2. ^ "Erica Stevens". Cc.murdoch.edu.au. 11 August 1990. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Interview with Ann Turner", Signis, 16 January 1998 accessed 21 November 2012
  4. ^ a b c "Interview with Stephen Wallace", Signis, 21 November 1998 accessed 21 November 2012
  5. ^ Helen Barlow, "The Australian Film Finance Corporation", Cinema Papers, August 1991 p35
  6. ^ "Film Victoria // supporting Victoria's film television and games industry | Film Victoria" (PDF). Film.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 2017-08-10. 
  7. ^ 'Turtle Beach' at Ozmovies, accessed 14 October 2017.
  8. ^ "Movie review: Turtle Beach". Deseret News. 1992-05-12. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 

External links[edit]