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There's a truly haunting, real-life murder story that's connected to Wolf Creek.

The psychopathic cackle of Mick Taylor haunts every Australian.

John Jarratt brought the infamous serial killer to life in Aussie horror film Wolf Creek (2005), and sequel Wolf Creek 2 (2014).

John Jarratt as Mick Taylor in Wolf Creek 2. via Emu Creek Productions.

I missed the boat by about 12 years - and found myself watching the original on Stan for the first time far more recently than I care to admit.

Actor John Jarratt perfectly depicts the Aussie redneck who spends his time trawling stretches of outback in an attempt to kidnap backpackers. Once he has his prey captured, Taylor's sadistic tendencies take over: he tortures; he kills; he mutilates.

Meshel Laurie speaks with crime author Emily Webb about Australia's most notorious murders, on Nitty Gritty Committee. (Post continues after audio).

There's an obvious link to draw: Mick Taylor bears an astounding resemblance to notorious Aussie killer Ivan Milat. It's not just the odd adoption of 'the cowboy hat' - it's the unwarranted hate of backpackers; of anyone visiting Australia who wasn't originally born here.

Real Aussie killer Ivan Milat photographed in his home (left) and actor John Jarratt as Wolf Creek psychopath Mick Taylor. Image credit moviepilot.com.
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But after watching the film, I noticed something else: The plot of Wolf Creek bares an eerie resemblance not only to the murders carried out by Ivan Milat - but also to the most recent episode of Casefile true crime podcast - Case 44: Peter Falconio. And, with some digging, I found this connection to be a path far less explored than the one with Milat.

28-year-old backpacker Peter Falconio was driving from Adelaide to Darwin in an orange Volkswagen Kombi with girlfriend Joanne Lees on July 14, 2001.

Undated image of Peter Falconio and girlfriend Joanne Lees. via Getty Images.

In the opening scenes of Wolf Creek, backpacker Ben Mitchell (Nathan Phillips) buys a dilapidated Ford Falcon in preparation for a road trip with two girlfriends. An orange VW Kombi appears in the background of the scene, a clear reference to the one bought by Falconio.

Orange Volkswagen Kombi in background of Wolf Creek scene. Image credit Mushroom Pictures.
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Back to real life.

On an empty stretch of outback road, Falconio and Lees saw a car in their rear-vision mirror. It was the white four-wheel-drive of mechanic Bradley John Murdoch, who quickly caught up to the slow Kombi.

According to the Anonymous host of Casefile true crime podcast, Murdoch pulled up alongside the couple. He gestured to Falconio, who was driving at the time, to slow down. The couple pulled to the side of the road, and Murdoch approached the driver's window to inform them sparks were coming from the exhaust. Falconio exited the Kombi, and went around to the rear to examine the apparently faulty exhaust. This was the last time Joanne Lees ever saw her boyfriend.

Falconio and Lees' infamous orange Volkswagen Kombi. Image via falconio.weebly.com

It was at this point, still in the passenger seat, that Joanne Lees heard a loud bang. Murdoch then approached the passenger side of the Kombi, and restrained Lees with cable-tie handcuffs. She escaped and ran into nearby shrub land off the highway, where she hid for several hours before flagging a passing road train (a large, fast truck). She remains alive to this day.

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Casefile reports that Falconio's body was never found, but he is assumed dead - his blood was found on the road.

Convicted killer Bradley John Murdoch surrounded by police at Darwin airport in 2003. via Getty Images.

The parallels between Wolf Creek's Mick Taylor and Bradley John Murdoch, who is also an admitted drug-runner, are uncanny: both roam deserted stretches of outback highway; both target backpackers; both have an undeniable thirst for blood.

So similar, in fact, that the Northern Territory placed an injunction on the film's release during Murdoch's trial for the murder of Peter Falconio. A strong belief was held that the film would influence the outcome of the proceedings.

IMDB, says the following...

Although the advertising for the film claims it was based on true events, this is not entirely accurate. The film was influenced by the Ivan Milat and Bradley John Murdoch cases, but it was not based specifically on any one event, and the four principal characters are all entirely fictitious.

Ultimately, there is no definitive answer. Watch (or re-watch) Wolf Creek. Listen to the most recent Casefile episode. Draw your own conclusions. It's each individual viewer's right to determine how much of the story they think is drawn from the case of Milat, and how much from the lesser-known one of Murdoch.

Murdoch was convicted for the murder of Falconio on 13 December 2005. Now 58, he is serving life imprisonment in Darwin Correctional Centre. He will be eligible for parole in 2032, aged 74.

You can download the Casefile true crime podcast episode on Peter Falconio, here.

You can read more and view images in relation to the disappearance of Peter Falconio, here.

You can watch Wolf Creek, Wolf Creek 2, and Stan's original stand-alone series Wolf Creek, here.

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