Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

An outback nightmare ....

WAKE IN FRIGHT – I remember this as OUTBACK, a stunning film from 1971, which had been lost for decades, but once seen is not easy to forget. It is now back, restored, and titled WAKE IN FRIGHT, a compelling tale set in Australia – which seems like a circle of hell here, compared to usual Aussie-set films like THE SUNDOWNERS

Ted Kotcheff directs as we follow nice guy teacher Gary Bond who arrives in a rough outback mining town planning to stay overnight before catching the plane to Sydney. But his one night stretches to five as he plunges headlong toward his own destruction.
 When the alcohol-induced mist lifts, the educated teacher is no more. Instead there is a self-loathing man in a desolate wasteland, dirty, red-eyed, sitting against a tree and looking at a rifle with one bullet left. Gruesome events include kangaroo hunts – it is easier shooting them at night as they get blinded by car headlights. 
Excessive drinking in those all male bars, and gambling take their toll too. There seems to be nothing else to do in this godforsaken place. Then there is Donald Pleasance – has he ever been more malevolent? – well yes, as one of the bodysnatchers in THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS in 1960, here his rough and tumble seems to lead into a sexual assault on our drunken out-of-it teacher. Regular Australians like Chips Rafferty, Jack Thompson, John Meillon also feature, and Sylvia Kay shines as the lone girl in this wilderness.

It’s a movie that’s impossible to catergorise, but its view of the bleak outback can hardly be equalled. Good to see it back on dvd with lots of extras. 
A testament too to Gary Bond, an interesting actor  whose best role this is (he died aged 55 in 1995, he was in ZULU, ANNE OF A THOUSAND DAYS etc). One can feel the sticky heat as he wakes up naked and drunk in that sweltering room …. Maybe the prolific Kotcheff’s best film, not for the squeamish though.

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