When Greg McLean set out to make a sequel to his 2005 horror hit Wolf Creek he was faced with an even more formidable nemesis than the movie's outback serial killer Mick Taylor: the global financial crisis.
McLean had intended to make a Wolf Creek sequel even before it became an instant classic. He wanted John Jarrett's Mick Taylor to be Australia's answer to Freddy Kreuger or Hannibal Lecter, an iconic villain who was hugely entertaining at the same time as telling us something about our country's dark side.
And because the film was so successful - it made upwards of $30 million for an initial investment of less than $2 million - McLean received an offer to make a second movie while the first one was still terrorising audiences.
But the Geraldton- raised NIDA graduate decided against pressing ahead with Wolf Creek 2 because he did not believe he could turn it around as quickly as the backers demanded.
"It took so long to get the first movie made that I felt I couldn't knock up something in six months. And if I did it would be terrible and I would ruin Wolf Creek forever," McLean tells me over the phone from Los Angeles, where he is preparing to make his American directing debut.
However, midway through the process of raising money for the sequel, the global financial crisis hit, which in turn up-ended how films were funded and distributed.
"It cost us about three years," McLean explains.
They delay, however, allowed McLean time to think more deeply about what he wanted to do with the character of Mick Taylor.
"You can't do the same gag twice. We know who Mick Taylor is and we know he's a killer. So we needed to find a new way to make him surprising and respect the intelligence of the audience," McLean says.
The first movie was a masterful piece of contemporary horror, with McLean taking real-life stories such as the abduction of British tourist Peter Falconio and the assault of his girlfriend Joanne Lees and the Ivan Milat backpacker murders and merging them with the emerging "torture porn" genre, albeit with such skill it seemed a lot more violent than it actually was.
This time around McLean has upped both the action and the comedy, tapping into his great love of the western to give us something in the spirit of Quentin Tarantino and, in particular, his slave-era revenge fantasy Django Unchained.
After again terrorising a pair of backpackers, Mick turns his attention to a handsome, well- educated young British university student (Ryan Corr), culminating in a hilarious, horrific Tarantino-esque torture sequence that taps into the xenophobia and racism that, according to the movie, lurks deep in the Australia psyche.
McLean is a huge admirer of Tarantino but says he wasn't aware that the American shockmeister was making his own western until his star John Jarratt had to leave Wolf Creek 2 for a short period to take on a small but significant role in Django Unchained.
"Tarantino is a massive fan of John Jarratt and Wolf Creek. And we both adore the movies of Sergio Leone, so it probably isn't a surprise that we would both end up making westerns featuring John Jarrett," McLean laughs.
"There are plenty of shocks in Wolf Creek 2 for fans of horror and action. But more traditional film buffs will enjoy spotting the references to Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West and John Ford's The Searchers. Steven Spielberg's Duel and George Miller's Mad Max are also an influence and they can be traced back to the western."
With the delay in funding, McLean had the extra time to enrich the script and further investigate the character of Mick Taylor, to ask questions about what motivates him and see how he relates to the reality of contemporary Australian history and culture.
"Mick is the shadow side of Australia. He represents all the repressed, darker aspects of the Australian psyche. Once we (McLean and co-writer Aaron Sterns) fixed on that idea we wrote in the entire interrogation in the lair which was not in the original script," McLean explains.
"The scene allowed us to claw into some of those old grudges that drive racism and get passed on from generation to generation and that are really, really scary.
"Just before we went into production there was the case of that guy who was charged over a racist outburst against two French backpackers on a Melbourne tram.
"I showed the video to my production team and said, 'This is what Wolf Creek is about'. It was the look on this guy's face who was ready to cut these people up because they were from a foreign country.
"That's the true horror story - somebody who believes that if you are from a different country or your skin is a different colour you are not human. And once you dehumanise people you can do horrible things to them.
"We try to pretend these attitudes have disappeared or do not exist but they jump out at you all the time. Last year was full of examples of people who should know better saying all these horrible things then having to apologise."
McLean's change in direction with Wolf Creek 2 is also a boon for his leading man Jarrett, a veteran whose career got a much-needed kick in the pants when he donned the Akubra hat to play what the rest of the world sees as Crocodile Dundee's twisted cousin.
"This time around John is on screen almost the entire time. So we let him off the hook to see how crazy he could be," says McLean, who has clearly relished the return to the Wolf Creek franchise after the ill-fated Rogue (2007).
And Jarrett returns the favour not just by giving another full-blooded performance as the anti-Crocodile Dundee who must have driven away as many tourists as Paul Hogan's iconic character attracted. He also contributes mightily to his character's wonderfully ripe vernacular.
"The salt bush is as dry as a nun's nasty," Mick declares, a line Jarrett improvised along with many other gems that will have you laughing at the same time as fearing for the life of Corr's captured tourist, who looks more frightened than an English batsman facing Mitchell Johnson.
"John grew up in outback Queensland and says that one of the reasons why he connected so deeply with the character is because he knew these guys," McLean says.
"Mick is an appalling character we love to hate but he's also a throwback to a way of speaking and thinking that is vanishing. He is an old bushie. He speaks how my uncle used to speak. So we are bringing a bit of the tradition back even if it is through an evil bad guy," McLean says with a wicked chuckle.