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Wake in Fright1971

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  • 4.2
Alongside MAD MAX and WALKABOUT, WAKE IN FRIGHT is widely acknowledged as one of the seminal films in the development of modern Australian cinema. Directed by Ted Kotcheff and starring Donald Pleasence, WAKE IN FRIGHT tells the nightmarish story of a schoolteacher's descent into personal demoralization at the hands of drunken, deranged derelicts while stranded in a small town in outback Australia.

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6 members like this review

The desolation of the landscapes in this film pale in comparison to the desolation that lies within its characters. Senses of isolation, despair, entrapment and impending doom are with us right from the opening shots and increase throughout like some strange gravity we cannot escape. Kafkaesque in the extreme. Brutal and haunting.

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Member Reviews (17)

The desolation of the landscapes in this film pale in comparison to the desolation that lies within its characters. Senses of isolation, despair, entrapment and impending doom are with us right from the opening shots and increase throughout like some strange gravity we cannot escape. Kafkaesque in the extreme. Brutal and haunting.

6 members like this review
A3db061ea3ff42eab587c220d32b509a? m 0085
top reviewer

The hype over this re-release is warranted. What a surprisingly terrific film. Watch it before you read too much and revel in a film that fits well with the wave of bold independent films in the 70s but more than holds up today.

4 members like this review
top reviewer

'Doc' Tydon: All the little devils are proud of hell.

John Grant: Do you mean you don't think the 'Yabba is the greatest little place on Earth?

'Doc' Tydon: Could be worse.

John Grant: How?

'Doc' Tydon: [drinking] Supply of beer could run out.

3 members like this review
top reviewer

I wanted to quit on this movie, and almost did a couple of times, to be honest. It takes its time in setting up the slow degeneration of the protagonist; much more like a classic arthouse film than anything I've ever seen come out of Australia, so perhaps my wanting to give up it was due to a cultural bias. I'm glad I stuck with it. This is not a fun movie, but it is very instructive in how our social instincts to assimilation (especially when we are lonely and vulnerable) can yield some serious debasement of the soul. I got the same kind of feeling from this movie as from reading "Death in Venice" or "The Lottery", so I had a strong suspicion the ending was going to be darker. Alas, it looks like the filmmakers lost courage and decided to play it safe; not a "bad" ending, but more marketable than if the protagonist died. Three and a half stars

2 members like this review
top reviewer

The kindness of strangers has never seemed more terrifying than in this dusty, sun-bleached masterpiece, now stunningly restored. This Australian classic is as current and strong today, as it was upon it's release in 1971, that says a lot. No special effect, or gimmicks are needed for this thriller, just good strong storyboard and good acting gets the job done, in this first rate thriller.

2 members like this review

One of the most interesting films I've seen in some time; Well written, directed, and played. Bravo!

2 members like this review

Never has hospitality seemed quite so grotesque. The stifling, dusty interiors and desolate scenery of the Outback are captured perfectly by the cinematographer, flawlessly setting the scene for a brilliant study in male violence. There is plenty of shocking, savage material here - but the truly remarkable thing about this film is that it handles its core themes with tasteful subtlety. The unforgettable slaughter of the kangaroos (taken from documentary footage) is a brutal, stomach-churning reminder of White colonial violence and entitlement; undercurrents of homoeroticism and misogyny mingle like benzedrine and beer to inform a searing diagnosis of the male psyche. Watch this for its bracing depiction of toxic comradery, its sweltering bar scenes (with ensembles worthy of Hieronymous Bosh), and its caustic atmosphere - it's a singular gem.

2 members like this review

A potent, nasty confabulation of Deliverance and Clockwork Orange. Highly recommended.

2 members like this review
C5563e1a224ed5f73b70e9811f132c40? f 0049
top reviewer

this a fantastic piece of film so adventurous and with the finest cinema work and imagery..i totally enjoyed this one it was like a descent from normality into madness in its script and premise its a must see!!!!!!!!!!!!

1 member likes this review

a wicked surreal homoerotic nightmare

1 member likes this review


1 member likes this review
top reviewer

A nightmarish ozploitation film that never gives the audience a chance to breathe. Our outsider protagonist gets lost in an over-friendly backwoods Australian town. After gambling away all of his money on a drunken night -- in an attempt to free him of his indentured servitude -- he's now left to rely on the hyper-masculine, booze-fueled, reckless behavior of the local men. What makes this film great is that it doesn't criticize the old fashioned lifestyle of backwoods yokels, so much as it equally criticizes its snobby protagonist for getting into the situation in the first place.

A nightmarish cautionary tale wherein the real horror is the overbearing camaraderie of man.

top reviewer

What do you expect from a Donald Pleasence film? Just what was delivered in this film! The characters are memorable and a ton of tense and memorable scenes are etched in your memory. You sweat with these people, you drink with these people, dry dusty swilling and guzzling.Doesn't depict Australia in the best light does it? Hahaha!Great sound track and top shelf editing won't let you get away from this one any quicker than John could!

top reviewer

Despite an imperfect ending, it does still end on a note that implies the dangerous never ending cycle of Epicureanism being valued over true fulfillment, which the rest of the movie conveys masterfully.

"He'd rather talk to a woman than drink?"

Sun drenched and primordial Wake in Fright is a shockingly frank look at the lifestyles of a certain brand of Australian citizen frozen in a time forever cursed to a life of hard drinking and archaic behavior, these men and women rub off on an unfortunate tourist. Watching the main character degrade (at least seemingly) into something he could never see himself as is one of the most surreal and painful things I have ever seen in cinematic history.

review available at, here's a sample "The most disturbing thing about Wake In Fright to me, besides the brutal and genuine slaughter of majestic innocent kangaroos is how it makes you hate beer with a bitter intensity. Beer in this film equals pain and misery. The social fabric of enjoying a pint and having a relaxing time is replaced by an angry choking down of the yellow liquid and the contempt for anyone not joining in with the ritual. Either you drink or there's gonna be a fight!"

I really wish Fandor would start putting warnings in the film descriptions about brutality towards animals. I started watching this film, and needed to take a pause. in doing so I read through the reviews. I won't finish it. I've emailed Fandor already - requesting a warning about films with cruelty to animals in the description. I'm not sure what prevents them from doing so. Thank you to the reviewers who place the warnings in their reviews.

Awful and boring. Could not finish watching.