Here's a rather mixed bag of goodies: the restored version of a 1970s classic Australian psychological horror film; a devilishly delightful network TV series; and a grind-house Western that's new to Netflix.
Wake In Fright Movie Review
Ted Kotcheff’s 1971 Wake in Fright has been compared to films like Walkabout, Deliverance, Cannibal Holocaust, and Straw Dogs. I can kind of see where people are coming from when they make these comparisons, but really, it's its own beast.
Wake in Fright is the story of John Grant (Gary Bond), a straitlaced school teacher who arrives in the rough outback mining town of Bundanyabba, planning to stay overnight before catching the plane to Sydney. Misfortunate strikes, and one night stretches into a week… in hell. He falls in with a bunch of roughnecks, and spirals into an alcohol-induced bender in which he does things he never would have imagined possible. As he devolves from man to monster, he finds himself looking down the barrel of a rifle with one bullet left...
Believed lost for many years, Wake in Fright has been restored by Australia's National Film and Sound Archive and AtLab Deluxe, and is presented in its original form.
It's a beautiful looking movie and very well-acted, for sure. But, to me, it's not nearly as good as Walkabout, Deliverance or Straw Dogs. (The Cannibal Holocaust comparison comes, I am sure, from the actual animal-killings caught on film and exploited for the purpose of entertainment — kangaroos aren't so cute, after they've been reduced to quivering masses of blood and reams of guts.) While Wake in Fright may not be my thing, I do admire its unflinching stare, and also have to say, it's one of Donald Pleasance's best career performances.
10/19- Los Angeles, Portland
10/26- San Francisco, Phoenix, Berkeley, Seattle, Santa Fe, New Orleans
11/2- Hartford, Chicago, Detroit, Grand Rapids
11/16-Philadelphia, Columbus, Denver
Dust-Up reminds me a bit of snarky, ironic, super-stylized grind-house'y homage flicks like with a cast of kooky characters ala U-Turn, Bitch Slap, Hobo With a Shotgun, and Breathless. The cast of characters are priceless and peerless — where else are you going to see a flick with a kick-ass trash-park MILF, a handyman with a eye-patch, a Native American hipster, and a guy who's tattooed himself to look like a lizard? It's a totally over-the-top crime-caper and uber-violent popcorn flick, just for fun.
Dust-Up is available on demand October 2
666 Park Avenue
Not so plain Jane moves from the Midwest to the Manhattan in the new TV series 666 Park Avenue (based on a novel by Gabriella Pierce), and all Hell breaks loose: literally. Jane is played by blonde beauty Rachel Taylor (whom horror fans will remember from her role in the ghost movie Shutter; alcoholics may recall her from Bottle Shock). She's the saucy half of a yuppie couple recently employed to manage The Drake, an old but elegant apartment complex.
Jane and her husband Harry (Dave Annable) meet the folks whose fates… er, I mean flats are in the hands of The Drake's owners Gavin (Terry O'Quinn) and Olivia Doran (Vanessa L. Williams). Seems everyone living -- and dying -- within its walls has a rather tragic past. It's made clear during the first episode that The Drake is not only rent-controlled, it's also a convenient portal to the fiery depths of Hades.
But who is the devil? Is it Gavin? Olivia? They seem all shady and evil, but serial mysteries have got to have a little more than that to sustain suspense and keep fans tuning in week after week. Where will the plotlines go? One thing's for sure, the interplay between Gavin and Jane is something to look forward to. Gavin's already mesmerized her once or twice -- what's next?
666 Park Avenue airs on ABC Sunday nights at 10 PM