Real-life style challenge: revisiting the graphic tee

  • New horror film's uncanny parallels with Peter Falconio case
  • Chilling Australian outback scenes mirror Joanne Lees' ordeal
  • Almost 13 years since Falconio was murdered on remote road
  • New movie also echoes Australia's worst serial killer Ivan Milat
  • Backpacker killer Milat's first victims were Joanne Walters of Maestag, south Wales and Caroline Clarke of Northumberland


Published: 07:14 BST, 18 February 2014 | Updated: 07:45 BST, 18 February 2014


It's a real life recipe for challenge terror in the Australian bush, which four British victims of two Australian killers knew only too well.

Two lonely killing grounds, two madmen, appalling cruelty and eight bodies.

The elements of the Peter Falconio case which caught the imagination of the horrified public in both Britain and Australia, and the story of Australia's worst serial killer, Ivan Milat, have now been revisited for a new horror film.

One of the last known photographs of outback murder victim, Peter Falconio (right) with girlfriend Joanne Lees in the orange Kombi van in which the couple was flagged down by killer, Bradley Murdoch, in 2001

Actor Ryan Corr plays British backpacker, Paul Hammersmith, whose encounters with killer Mick Taylor, are a mix of the terrifying experiences of real life British backpacker, Paul Onions, with serial killer, Ivan Milat, and Peter Falconio and Joanne Lees with Bradley Murdoch, almost a decade later

This is real-life style challenge: revisiting the graphic tee the real orange Kombi van in which Joanne Lees and Peter Falconio were travelling when they were tricked into stopping by a man, who lured Falconio on the premise of 'engine trouble' to the rear of the vehicle. Lees heard a shot and was then tied up, but she escaped while Bradley Murdoch was moving Falconio's body

John Jarratt as Mick Taylor (left), the outback killer character based on a composite of serial killer, Ivan Milat, and Bradley Murdoch (right), whose murder of British tourist, Peter Falconio and terrorising of Falconio's girlfriend, Joanne Lees are recreated in the new film Wolf Creek 2

For Joanne Lees and her murdered boyfriend, Peter Falconio, from Huddersfield, UK, it happened on their tour of the Australian outback when a psychotic drifter flagged down their Kombi van on a remote highway.

Almost 13 years ago, the terrified Englishwoman hid as killer Bradley John Murdoch searched for her on a freezing desert night in the scrub off a lonely section of  road near Barrow Creek in Central Australia.

The body of her slain boyfriend, Falconio, has never been found and the man jailed for the murder is unlikely to reveal it as he launches a new appeal against his conviction.

In Wolf Creek 2, backpackers Rutger (Philippe Klaus) and Katarina (Shannon Ashlyn) set off on their outback adventure, which turns into a nightmare when they meet a killer on a lonely road

Wold Creek 2's Mick Taylor (John Jarratt, above) is a murderous mix of real life killers Ivan Milat and Bradley John Murdoch

Just as the real killer, Bradley Murdoch (above) meet his victims on outback roads, so does Mick Taylor in Wolf Creek 2

The cruelty which serial killer Ivan Milat (above) dealt his victims before killing them off is reprised in a new horror film

Wolf Creek 2 is bound to stir memories for the families of murdered Yorkshire man Peter Falconio (left) and the woman who survive the encounter, Joanne Lees (right)

For the families of Caroline Clarke, 21, of Northumberland, and Joanne Walters, 22, of Maestag, south Wales, the new film Wolf Creek 2 will echo the girls' fateful encounter with a man who would later become known as Australia's 'backpacker killer'.

When the pair left a backpackers' hostel in Sydney in April 1992 to hitchhike around the country, they could not have known the terrifying ordeal which lay in wait for them in the hands of a sadistic stranger.

Picked up on the road travelling south, they were taken to an isolated forest. Clarke was shot, execution style, ten times in the head, then stabbed. Walters was stabbed 35 times, forensic investigators determining she first had her spine severed and was still alive, but unable to defend herself as the killer finished her off in a stabbing frenzy.

Handcuffed and terrified in the freezing desert night, Wolf Creek 2 character Katarina Schmidt,, escapes the clutches of killer, Mick Taylor, who has just slain her boyfriend and returned to finish her off, just as Bradley John Murdoch did in real life to British woman Joanne Lees after he murdered her boyfriend, Peter Falconio

Police photograph of the actual handcuffs, fashioned from black cable ties, which killer Bradley Murdoch used to restrain Joanne Lees on a remote section of the Stuart Highway, in the Northern Territory, on July 14, 2001

Shannon Ashlyn's portrayal of a German backpacker has its roots in the cases of German backpacker victims, Simone Schmidl and Anja Habschied

Simone Schmidl endured the terror of serial killer, Ivan Milat, on her own in the Belanglo Forest, NSW, where he stabbed and then decapitated her

Young German backpacker, Anya Habschied's remains were found scattered in Australia's Belanglo Forest, although police were unable to locate her head

British backpacker Paul Hammersmith (Ryan Corr) hides in scrub as Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) searches for him, in a recreation of the night Joanne Lees lay terrified for five hours in a clump of grass, controlling her own breathing, as Bradley Murdoch searched for her with his torch

It would be months of doubt for the Clarke and the Walters families back in Britain, as each puzzled over why their respective daughters appeared to have vanished of the face of the earth.

Neither family knew the other until they came together in grief after police identified the girls' bodies and linked their deaths to one killer.

Clarke's and Walters' remains were found at Executioners Drop, in the Belanglo State Forest, in New South Wales. It was the killing ground of Ivan Milat, and although the British girls' bodies were the first to be found, Milat's serial murder spree had already dispatched of others

Joanne Lees and Peter Falconio in the Australian outback on their adventure holiday before the fatal encounter with an outback killer. Falconio's remains are still somewhere in remote territory in the country's red centre

Filmed in the Flinders Rangers, in a desert region of South Australia (above), Wolf Creek 2 focuses on the potential loneliness and terror of the Australian outback

The real Barrow Creek, Northern Territory, scene of horrific events in July 2001, which form the basis of the story told in new Australian horror film, Wolf Creek 2

Gabor Neugebauer and Anja Habschied had disappeared from Sydney's young  tourist mecca, Kings Cross, some time after Christmas 1991, and Simone Schmidl, also from Germany, had been reported missing almost a year earlier.

The stories of Ivan Milat and Bradley John Murdoch, who are both serving life sentences in Australian prisons at almost opposite ends of the country, are interwoven into the plotline of Wolf Creek 2, which is in Australian cinemas this week.

A sneak preview of the movie shown to the MailOnline, along with production stills from a seven week shooting schedule last  year, reveal startling comparisons with the some of Australia's most infamous real life events.

Filmed in the harsh beauty of the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, the film evokes the terror and loneliness the real victims of the two killers did endure, according to evidence given at the murder trials of both men.

King of the road: Wolf Creek 2's Mick Taylor is master of his outback domain and uses his vehicle as a weapon to hunt down unwary backpackers and kill them

Bradley Murdoch denied stopping Britons Joanne Lees and Peter Falconio on a central Australian highway (above), but a jury found him guilty and it later emerged he was an outback drug runner with a violent history

Like the Toyota utility belonging to the real outback murderer, Mick Taylor's truck is a well-maintained vehicle equipped with anything a man would need to survive days and nights in the wild

Wolf Creek 2 is part thriller, action and horror film sequel to the 2005 blockbuster Wolf Creek, which is set near a real life Australian outback feature, a giant crater formed by a 50,000-ton meteorite which lies in Western Australia.

In the first film, three young backpackers on their dream vacation touring the outback end up gagged, bound and in the hands of a living nightmare, serial killer Mick Taylor.

In the sequel, the character of Taylor, played by veteran Australian actor, John Jarratt, returns to menace a new batch of victims, British traveller Paul Hammersmith (played by Ryan Corr) and Germans Rutger Enqvist (Philippe Klaus) and Katarina Schmidt (Shannon Ashlyn).

Shannon Ashlyn as Katarina Schmidt (left) whose fate in Wolf Creek 2 is a mix of the real life tragedies of British backpacker, Caroline Clarke (right) and two German girls, all of whose remains were found in a lonely part of the Belanglo forest where they were slain by serial killer, Ivan Milat

Joanne Lees (above, with Peter Falconio) has shunned the spotlight since the trial of his killer, but news of the horror film Wolf Creek 2 revisiting the circumstances of her ordeal will stir up memories

The real backpacker killer, Ivan Milat's, seven known victims (clockwise, from top left) Caroline Clarke of Northumberland, UK, Anya Habschied and Simone Schmidl, of Germany, James Gibson and Deborah Everist of Victoria, Australia, German Gabor Neugebauer, and Joanne Walters, of Maestag, South Wales

The real life parallels of these characters include Paul Onions, the British backpacker who survived an encounter with Milat, and German backpackers Gabor Neugebauer, Anja Habschied and Simone Smidl, who didn't.

The character Katarina Schmidt seems to be a composite of Schmidl and Habschied, tying her hair in  the headscarf Schmidl wears in the last known photographs of her provided by the Schmidl family to police, and with the fine-featured looks of Habschied.

The remains of all three were found in the Belanglo Forest, in the vicinity of the shallow graves of British victims Clarke and Walters, and an Australian couple, Deborah Everist and James Gibson.

The remains of all seven of Milat's known victims in Belanglo were arranged in the killer's signature style.

John Jarratt as Mick Taylor in the film wields a high-powered rifle to subdue backpackers in the desert

True life killer: Ivan Milat was an intelligent, gun-obsessed psychopath who took his victims to a deserted forest, where he chased them as 'prey', taunting them, before their inevitable, merciless end

German backpackers Katarina and Rutger visit a desert grave in the Australian outback in Wolf Creek 2

An unmarked cross and stone cairn mark the site near where Peter Falconio was murdered in July, 2001, his body later disposed of by Bradley Murdoch, but never found

Each of the bodies had been deliberately posed face-down with their hands behind their backs, covered by a pyramid of sticks and ferns, buried like 'babes in the wood', according to forensic pathologist, Rod Milton.

Each had suffered multiple stab wounds to the torso. Milat had spent considerable time with the victims both during the murders and lingered on afterwards at the death scene, drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes to savour his work.

In the Wolf Creek films, Mick Taylor taunts his victims, which he subjects to a long, slow death. In the first Wolf Creek film, he severs the spine of one girl with a knife before killing her.

In the film, Katarina and Rutger set out from Sydney to see the outback and visit legendary meteorite crater, Wolf Creek, but when they become stranded in isolated bushland, someone is stalking them - mad Mick Taylor.

Caroline Clarke (left) and Joanne Walters (right) made what proved to be a fatal agreement to join forces and hitchhike on the road south out of Sydney, falling into the clutches of serial killer, Ivan Milat

Will he get away? Ryan Corr as British backpacker, Paul Hammersmith, is snared by killer Mick Taylor, In real life, Briton Paul Onions managed to escape an armed Ivan Milat by jumping out of the serial killer's car

While Wolf Creek 2 director and co-writer, Greg McLean, would not reveal who dies and who survives in the film, he told the MailOnline Mick the killer 'meets a very resourceful and clever tourist and the film ends up with a game of deadly cat and mouse in a scene that tests both victim and prey's survival skills'.

He said the Falconio and Milat cases and 'other real cases and crimes from outback Australia' had inspired the film's story.

The film was set in Western Australia, but filmed around the South Australian towns of Hawker and Burra.

Briton Paul Hammersmith (Ryan Corr) hides in scrub as his tormentor, Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) searches through the bush for his intended prey

Bradley John Murdoch (picture, above, before his conviction) is now appealing his life sentence saying Joanne Lees was unfairly coached into giving evidence against him

Paul Falconio (above), brother of the murdered Peter Falconio attended the 2004 committal hearing of the man who shot his brother and then disposed of the body in the outback

McLean said the stark beauty of the outback, the loneliness of the road and a madman on the loose was a recipe for a compelling horror film.

'I think everyone's frightened by the idea of being stuck in an isolated location with no help available,' he said.

'We're also all too aware of the reality that there are and have been some very frightening and twisted individuals who've preyed on people in those situations.

'So once you put Mick Taylor into the mix - a character who views foreigners as 'vermin to be eradicated' you have a pretty frightening situation.

'The human mind is a bizarre thing and once an individual or society creates a belief system whereby other human beings can be devalued or painted as worthless -- horror and depravity is never far behind.

'Is that a terrifying thought? You bet. That's why the movie's so scary because Mick Taylor epitomises that concept.

'Add to that the fact that he's very close in many ways to real serial killers we've seen in the past, with utterly no remorse, compassion or human empathy and it's a chilling situation.'

Joanne Lees' harrowing story has been the subject of a telemovie, and now two feature films.

Now aged 40, the Yorkshire woman has bought a house in Huddersfield, and is believed to be studying for a degree in sociological studies at Sheffield University.

However, there is little chance of her laying the ghost of Peter Falconio to rest.

Apart from the release of Wolf Creek 2 into cinemas this week, members of the Australian public continue to come forward with alleged clues to the location of Peter Falconio's bush grave.

The case will again be in the public eye, with Bradley John Murdoch launching an appeal against his conviction, claiming lawyers 'groomed' Ms Lees for the evidence she gave at his 2005 murder trial. 

Described by police as an 'excellent' witness with almost perfect recall, Ms Lees' calm demeanour drew criticism and unfair speculation in Australia about whether she may have been complicit in Mr Falconio's demise.


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Real-life style challenge: revisiting the graphic tee

Donald K.

Real-life style challenge: revisiting the graphic tee

Real-life style challenge: revisiting the graphic tee

Real-life style challenge: revisiting the graphic tee

Real-life style challenge: revisiting the graphic tee

Real-life style challenge: revisiting the graphic tee

Real-life style challenge: revisiting the graphic tee

Real-life style challenge: revisiting the graphic tee

Real-life style challenge: revisiting the graphic tee

Real-life style challenge: revisiting the graphic tee

Real-life style challenge: revisiting the graphic tee

Real-life style challenge: revisiting the graphic tee

Real-life style challenge: revisiting the graphic tee

Real-life style challenge: revisiting the graphic tee

Real-life style challenge: revisiting the graphic tee