Wake in Fright

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Wake in Fright John Grant (Gary Bond) is a civilized man doing a stint as a schoolteacher in the Australian outback, but trouble arises when he tries to head home to Sydney and never quite makes it. His layover in a small, forgotten town leads to new friends and a night or two (or three) of drunken debauchery, gambling and animal cruelty. This lost then found again classic of Australian cinema is a dread-filled descent into a sun-baked and alcohol-fueled hell. Bond does a fine and frightening job moving from responsible man to lost soul, but it’s Donald Pleasance who stands out as a disreputable doctor with one foot in the crazy house. Director Ted Kotcheff captures deranged desolation to perfection and marks ’70s Australia one of the most terrifying places on earth. That said, the kangaroo hunt is barbaric and painful to watch (or even to fast-forward through). Also available on DVD. [Extras: Commentary, featurettes, obituary, trailers, 28-page booklet]


31 Days of Horror - October 2011

They said it couldn’t be done. A fifth year of 31 Days of Horror? 31 more terror, gore and shower scene-filled movies worth highlighting? But Rejects always say die and never back away from a challenge, so we’ve rounded up the horror fans among us and put together another month’s worth of genre fun. Enjoy! Synopsis: During his trek home to Sydney from the nowhere town of Tiboonda, bonded school teacher John Grant gets side-tracked in the rough and tumble town of Bundanyabba, or as the locals call it, The Yabba. What starts with some hesitant gambling to win enough money to quit his teaching job quickly spirals into a hellish span of five days stuck with hard drinking, hard fighting, quick shooting Australian rednecks who escort Grant to the gates of his own hell.


Considered lost for years, Wake in Fright is finally getting the release it is due. Anthony Buckley, the film’s editor  took it upon himself to sleuth out a negative, eventually finding paydirt in Pittsburgh nearly a decade after the search began. It was discovered in a bin labelled to be destroyed. Wake‘s tenacity to stay alive is a testament to the film’s unflinching, voyeuristic look at humanity under pressure, and the weight that can crush if it is allowed. Wake in Fright is the kind of film you watch and can’t forget, like it or not. It drags you into its uninhibited grime to drown you in a sweaty beer lather. You can see the surface, know that a fresh breath is within reach, but its grip just strengthens and pulls you in deeper. Witnessing the uncontrolled descent of a man becoming what he loathes most is a jarring spectacle. To be human is to be frail, and that is the water the movie treads in.

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