Wake In Fright is not the easiest movie to sum up in a couple of sentences, but the fact that goth overlord and Proposition screenwriter Nick Cave has described this 1971 thriller as “the best and most terrifying film about Australia in existence” gives the potential viewer some hint of what is in store.
Directed by Ted Kotcheff (First Blood), the movie tracks a discontented schoolteacher (Gary Bond) as he descends into a hell of alcohol- and sex-fueled self-loathing during a visit to the remote outback mining town of Bundanyabba — or “the Yabba” as its booze-drenched residents refer to it. What ensues is extremely unsettling in a way that recalls such films as Deliverance and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre while still being a very different, more psychologically nightmarish creation.
Wake In Fright premiered at the 1971 Cannes Festival but received a very limited release in the U.S. — under the title Outback — and has never been released here on video or DVD. Over time, the film’s materials disappeared and Wake In Fright acquired the reputation of a great “lost” movie until canisters containing the original negative were located in Philadelphia. Newly restored, the film is now being given a theatrical release by Drafthouse Films and is set to debut this Friday at New York’s Film Forum followed by a run at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles the following week.
Below, you can check out an exclusive clip from Wake In Fright — which features Bond and the great Donald Pleasence — along with the rerelease trailer.