Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Under the Mountain.


The year was 1979. I was nine years old. My father gave my brother and me a book. It was called Under the Mountain, and it was set in the city we lived in. We both read it - devoured it more like - and were transported to the mysterious and dangerous world beneath our own. It's the story of twins Rachel and Theo, and the enigmatic Mr Jones, who fight the slimy, creepy Wilberforces who sleep beneath Auckland's volcanoes and plan to take over the world. They must harness the power of their twin-ness to triumph.

I loved it. I yearned for an adventure to happen to me.


Then, shortly after, I was given the opportunity to audition for the part of Rachel in the TV series. My dream come true! Drama was my strong suit at school, and I longed to be on TV, convinced that child actors in NZ were terrible and I was just the girl to make it all better. I was sure to get the part, after all, I had the right name and everything! Alas, it was not to be. My brother Jonathan, three years older, also auditioned, and along with our friend Sarah, we had to come up with a mimed scenario to show off our acting talents. I had some vague idea about a kid being bullied on the way to school, but it was vetoed in favour of a gunfight. None of us got the parts, but Sarah later went on to star in another New Zealand children's TV classic, Children of the Dog Star. My brother went on to play Theo in the Radio New Zealand version. I went on to... write books instead.

Under the Mountain, the TV series, spooked a generation of NZ kids.

But that's not all my brother went on to do. He has now directed the feature film of Under the Mountain, which premieres this Saturday night in Auckland and which opens nationwide on Thursday the 10th. Go and see it in the opening weekend if you can, to ensure it gets a long screen-life. Go and see it if you have read the book, or seen the TV series, or go and see it just because you can. See volcanoes erupt! See slimy creatures and a creepy old house on Lake Pupuke! See a great homegrown supernatural adventure.

Spare a thought for a nine-year old girl whose dream didn't quite come true but who is very glad that her brother's did.

9 comments:

a cat of impossible colour said...

Am very much looking forward to seeing this. Never saw the TV series (as far as I remember), but loved the book! Deliciously sinister.

Mary McCallum said...

Which explains why you were so supportive of my Issy when she wanted to try out for the part of Rachael this time round - something we both really appreciated. Your bro' made the characters older, though, much to Issy's consternation. Like you she LOVES the book. Is it opening in Wgtn this w/e too?

TK Roxborogh said...

I was almost 17 and in sixth form when it came on telly and would hide behind a pillow. Our tv set only showed black and white and it was snowy cos we lived in the hills of North Canterbury but the story and the series were incredible.

As to the acting - yus. Done that too while in Auckland (short stints on shorty and Zena and a couple of commercials) but I've realised my talent is better placed directing those FAR better than me.

Yay for your bro! Love this sort of synchronicity

Pen said...

We brought the DVD of the Tv series this year for our kids. My dh remembered watching it and loving it as a kid (Sheltered as I was I never saw it back then). Will definitely keep an eye out for it when it comes out on DVD.

Vanda Symon said...

I loved the TV series as a kid, and have a copy of the book lined up as bedtime reading for my little fellas sometime soon. I can't wait to see the movie!

showyourworkings said...

Yay! I can't wait to see it. Loved the book and the tv series. I suppose I might have to take the kids although I'm sure they wont appreciate it as much as me ;)

Fifi Colston said...

I sat at TVNZ archives and watched the whole original series as part of my research whilst doing an MA in Scriptwriting at IIML in 2003. The special effects were hilarious by todays standards but the story, as ever, fabulous. I really savoured Jonathon's presentation and talk about it up in New Plymouth at a librarians conference- we were all agog and afterwards,bristling with excitement. I'll be there in the queue at the movies!

screamish said...

it sounds great...the mysterious post apocalyptic supernatural kids series were always my favourites...

by the way does anyone know what series that was in the 80s, a BBC thing I imagine, set in England after Luddite types smashed all electricity pylons??? it featured a young girl...i've suddenly remembered it

anyway, the only thing I've read of Maurice Gee is a great novel called Go West, I think. He's survived many moves and my brutal throwing out/book culling binges...time to read it again, maybe....

Fifi Colston said...

s it 'Survivor'? or was that the 70's one where large portions of the population had died from an escaped virus and people formed rural and sometimes feral communities?