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One of the seminal—and most shocking—films in the
development of Australia’s cinema in the early 1970s didn’t get much notice in
the U.S. at the time, but it’s set to explode onto Stateside screens again this
Drafthouse Films has announced that it has picked up North
American rights to the Outback thriller WAKE IN FRIGHT, directed by FIRST
BLOOD’s Ted Kotcheff. The movie will begin its new U.S. run at New York City’s
Film Forum on October 5, followed by Los Angeles’ NuArt October 19 and the
additional markets, with home video and VOD releases planned for early 2013.
Believed lost for many years, the film was restored after the negative was
discovered in Pittsburgh (in canisters marked for destruction just a week
later) and restored frame-by-frame at Sydney’s AtLab Deluxe with the aid of the
National Film and Sound Archives of Australia. This version played at the
Cannes Film Festival in 2009 (having originally shown there, receiving a Palme
D’Or nomination, in 1971), courtesy of guest curator Martin Scorsese.
“Kotcheff’s stunning and dreadfully creepy film inspired a generation of
accomplished Aussie filmmakers,” says Drafthouse’s Evan Husney, “and we
couldn’t be more thrilled to be the outfit that unleashes this masterwork to
movie-lovers everywhere. I say without hesitation that this film is truly one
of our all-time favorites.”
Originally released in the States as OUTBACK, the film stars
Gary Bond as John Grant, a British schoolteacher who stops over in the remote
mining town of Bundanyabba and descends into a personal hell thanks to the drunken,
deranged locals. Fango fave Donald Pleasence and DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK’s
Jack Thompson co-star; check out a video report on the restoration below.
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