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'Mick Taylor' returns to Wolf Creek

Actor John Jarratt, who returns to his role as "Mick Taylor" in Wolf Creek 2, takes a swipe at local comedians, believing they should leave filmmaking to the filmmakers.

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The outback serial killer Mick Taylor is to return to movie screens in a sequel of the blood-soaked Australian cult horror film Wolf Creek, as well as a series of novels.

With its shades of the backpacker murders, Wolf Creek 2 leaps eight years after the events of the original film to find Taylor — played by John Jarratt — preying on foreign visitors who have the misfortune to turn up in the wrong place at the wrong time. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival and is to be released in Australian cinemas on February 20.

Now two new novels are to be published by Penguin in January which build the back story to Taylor's violent rages, taking fans back to the time he is a scrawny jackaroo at a remote Western Australian sheep station, struggling with the memory of his little sister's grisly death.

Aaron Sterns is the co-writer of Wolf Creek 2.

Aaron Sterns, co-writer of Wolf Creek 2 and a series of books. Photo: Mal Fairclough

Film director Greg McLean and Wolf Creek 2's co-writer Aaron Sterns have written Wolf Creek: Origin, the first in Penguin's planned series of six print and digital novels.

McLean believes it's the first time a book series has been spun off an Australian horror film. ''Mick Taylor has gradually assumed horror icon status, so creating a series of novels that delve into the darkest corners of his development and psyche in the years before we meet him in the first Wolf Creek movie seemed a really interesting concept.''

Origin will answer the question about where did Taylor's murderous intent begin, if these events inured the character to the death of others, or primed him to seek pleasure from murder.

Welcome to Australia: Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) torments more tourists in <em>Wolf Creek 2</em>.

Welcome to Australia: Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) torments more tourists in Wolf Creek 2.

''It's an age-old question about serial killers and goes to the heart of this most Australian of horror villains,'' Sterns says.

Desolation Game, the second instalment to be published alongside Origin, has been written by McLean and horror author Brett McBean. This time Taylor, back from the Vietnam War, turns his killer impulse on a Kombi-load of sightseers.

Four other e-books will be commissioned from the best horror writers in the country.

As the first Australian horror film to be selected for both Sundance and Cannes and the highest-grossing locally produced horror film in Australia, McLean says Wolf Creek has paved the way for a flourishing local horror scene. ''Horror as a genre is no longer a dirty word among Australia's funding bodies. As Wolf Creek demonstrated, you could make a creatively ambitious film that had a bold Australian voice which was also genuinely terrifying - and it could connect with audiences around the world.''

Drawing on the disappearance of British tourist Peter Falconio and the Ivan Milat backpacker murders, Wolf Creek was banned in the Northern Territory in 2005, the year of its release, during the trial of Falconio's killer, Bradley Murdoch.

Sterns says part of Wolf Creek's original appeal lies in how it captures the inherent fear Australians have of the outback.

"We've read for years of people disappearing, and events such as the Lees-Falconio incident or Ivan Milat's reign of terror, and Wolf Creek illuminated the ease with which city people soon become out of their depth in the world beyond the asphalt of the cities.''

Jarrett's characterisation of Mick Taylor struck such a chord because he embodied the laconic, jokey Australian everyman, an exaggeration of Mick Dundee, says Sterns.

''But there's a flipside to the casual sarcasm and tall poppy-chopping that Australians are fond of because Mick sees weakness in those unsuited to Australia, and views those who encroach on his territory — tourists and city slickers — as vermin.

''We've seen the latent xenophobia potentially in the Australian psyche brought to the fore in recent debates about refugee boats and Mick encapsulates and parodies one very dark side of this debate,'' says Sterns. ''For me, depicting such a black-and-white intolerance hopefully shows his xenophobia up to be as ridiculous and unfounded as it really is.''