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Wake in Fright

Australia 1971
produced by
George Willoughby, Howard G. Barnes (executive), Bill Harmon (executive) for Group W, NLT Productions
directed by Ted Kotcheff
starring Donald Pleasence, Gary Bond, Chips Rafferty, Sylvia Kay, Jack Thompson, Peter Whittle, Al Thomas, John Meillon, John Armstrong, Slim DeGrey, Maggie Dence, Norm Erskine, Owen Moase, John Dalleen, Buster Fiddess, Tex Foote, Colin Hughes, Jacko Jackson, Nancy Knudsen, Dawn Lake, Harry Lawrence, Robert McDarra, Carlo Manchini, Liam Reynolds
screenplay by Evan Jones, based on the novel by Kenneth Cook, music by John Scott

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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John Grant (Gary Bond) is an unremarkable but good-natured school teacher somewhere in the Australian outback who wants to go back to the city for the holidays ... but then he loses all his money gambling in another town that's not much more than a train station with a few houses attached to it. But even if he's penniless, the local cop (Chips Rafferty) encourages him to have beer after beer, and then the local doctor Tydon (Donald Pleasence) takes him under his wing ... which is where the downfall starts, as the doctor is not only a hopeless alcoholic, his circle of friends are also really into violence against animals (first and foremost kangaroos) and rape (first and foremost Sylvia Kay), and they keep John in a drunken enough state throughout to not only participate in what they're doing but gradually even accept it. Sure, every time the alcohol wears off, John is shocked at what he did - but another beer is always to be found before long ...

 

A truly disturbing movie ... but disturbing in a good way, as beneath all its superficial sensationalism, Wake in Fright truly makes one thing about the state of humankind as such, and also how far one would go if rules were suspended even for a day - and one was drunk of course. Thing is, the film brings all this across really well: Sure it uses wild and sensationalist imagery, but everything is carried by really good, at times self-consciously absurdist storytelling (that by the way in a perverse way anticipates many of crowdpleaser Groundhog Day's motives), likeable characters (not only is Gary Bond's lead easy to identify with, Donald Pleasance also has something "nice" about him despite his despicable nature), and a direction that finds the balance between just grossing out the audience and bringing the film's point across.

Totally worth a watch!

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD