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Bad Boy Bubby

Bad Boy Bubby (Rolf de Heer, 1994) Nicholas Hope, Claire Bonito, Ralph Cotterill, Carmel Johnson, Syd Brisbane

This is a European 'idea' film - similar to Herzog's Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle. Many people will find the first 15-20 minutes hard going.

New Australian Gothic cinema is present in a number of ways in Bad Boy Bubby, which could for much of its length be described as a kind of social commentary or parody, displaying a reasonably conventional approach to film-making, and lacking the kind of visual darkness evident in The Well or Broken Highway. Nevertheless, Bad Boy Bubby demonstrates the characteristics of new Australian Gothic in equally intriguing ways. De Heer’s film shows its grotesque excess particularly in the opening sequences, in which Bubby’s escape from his lack of socialisation—from imprisonment in fact—is played out. The incestuous relationship with his mother, the “clingwrap” killing and the post-apocalyptic implications of Bubby’s mother’s behaviour combine to form a genuinely unsettling sequence. The implications of this period of the film are apparent in Bubby’s behaviour following his escape, and are thematically close to the surface for the entirety of the film. Bad Boy Bubby is an important film in this context, articulating the Gothic visually, and using this to form a specifically Australian version, as Bubby’s experiences develop, contextualised by his ordeal. Bubby’s journey reveals a sinister undercurrent in the society into which he is thrown: the elusive dark undercurrent of the everyday. David Thomas, Gothic, Ten Types of Australian Film.

Bad Boy Bubby is one of Australian cinema's most intriguing and original works, filled with pain, idiosyncratic humour and attitude; a comedy that plays like drama. Andrew Urban, Urban Cinefile.

See also: Garry Gillard & Lois Achimovich 2003, “The representation of madness in some Australian films”, Journal of Critical Psychology Counselling and Psychotherapy, 3, 1, Spring: 9-19.

New: 23 October, 2012 | Now: 1 December, 2019 | garrygillard[at]