So I didn’t have a whole lot of time this weekend to watch movies, but I have at least one a day to write about, so no problem. Definitely some obscure stuff.
Anyway here we go
Wake in Fright (1971, U.S. home video release 2012)
Ted Kotcheff’s Wake in Fright was considered a “lost movie” due to it’s absence on home video and television broadcast for so many years. Well, I for one, am glad it is no longer lost. This movie oh man. It’s not a “horror” movie in the traditional sense, but more a horror movie in a brutally realistic sense. It displays the horrors of life in the Australian outback. From the terrifying, very strange denizens of the area to the oppressive starkness of all of it.
It’s about a teacher who is on a bond or something where he’s pretty much forced to work up to his $1000 teaching bond. He plans on going to “The Yabba” for a night and then he will move on to Sydney. However, when he reaches the Yabba, he gets caught up in a wild gambling game and fids that he may be able to make the money to settle his bond. He ends up losing it all. Unable to leave the Yabba, he joins up with various bizarre locals.
The movie meanders in the best possible way. The movie is, at times, slow and wandering, showing us how empty and dead the outback really is. At other times, the camera is fast and manic, to show how insane the entire situation our hero finds himself in is. There is a scene involving a kangaroo hunt (I think it’s archived footage of an actual kangaroo hunt combined with footage for the movie. I know that no kangaroos or other animals were harmed in the making of the film) that is horrible. Not like it’s not a well-done scene, it’s incredibly well-done. It’s just very difficult to watch. This can be said about a good portion of the film. It’s all very scary and you’re never quite sure why.
Cthulhu is based on H.P. Lovecraft’s short story (and MASTERPIECE) The Shadow Over Innsmouth. The film follows the same basic plot, which is a man goes to a town (now called “Rivermouth.” It actually would have been more sublte just to say Innsmouth) and weird cult things start happening thanks to the “Esoteric Order of Dagon” (my religion, judge me haters). However in THIS movie, our protagonist, Russ, is FROM the town and his father is the leader of this religion. Russ’s dad is unhappy because his son is gay, which creates a schism and, we can assume, has for a while. Russ rekindles his friendship with his old bestie and meets a really weird woman (played by Tori Spelling in one of the more “wtf” casting decisions I’ve ever been privy to) and also a crazy (crazy? Hmmmm) old man. Then weird things start happening in typical Lovecraft fashion and Russ begins questioning his sanity and his feelings and such.
This movie was made on a teeny tiny little budget. Which means no giant CGI Cthulhu or Dagon and no shoggoths or Deep Ones crawling around. But that’s okay. Because this movie manages to tell a great story with only a little bit of overacting here and there (LOOKING AT YOU, SPELLING). You don’t need a huge budget or great special or visual effects to tell a Lovecraft story. That’s what makes them so great. Hell, look at Call of Cthulhu; it’s a silent movie with a stop-motion Cthulhu and it was AWESOME.
The only real complaint I have about this movie, besides some pacing issues and some questionable plot elements, was Tori Spelling.
So it’s about this guy whose mother dies and she lives him this big house in the middle of nowhere and tells him not to go there. Since this is a horror movie, he goes there. He meets his attractive American female neighbor and they buddy buddy. While he’s there he finds these creepy monster drawings he made as a child but he doesn’t remember making them. THEN he starts having weird dreams and starts seeing the monster he drew, which is Owlman (humanoid in a tux with talons for arms and an owl’s head). Then craziness and a really damn long ballet sequence ensues.
There are a lot of things about this movie I didn’t like. I’ll start with what I did like. I loved the story. It was engaging, bizarre, enthralling, and incredibly unique. The writing (most of it) was good. The camerawork and cinematography was good when it was concentrated and focused. The atmosphere was awesome and creepy as hell. And let’s not forget Owlman himself. Owlman looked amazing. Owlman’s lines were the best writing in the film. David Schofield (Owlman voice actor) provided those lines beautifully and hauntingly.
Now, the bad. A lot of the shots were LONG and meandering and pointless. This was distracting and really just seemed like they were there to pad the runtime. I especially hated the ballet scene. It was just a scene where the girl danced around the main guy in like some full ballet routine that lasted for like actually 7 minutes because not only was it long, but it was in slow motion. The acting was PRETTY mediocre too. And a few of the more romance-y lines were pretty awful.
Despite the negatives, this is still absolutely a movie that deserves to be seen. I would love to see more films from this crew.
Anyway that’s the weekend. Look for my Monday review a little later, and then tonights review a little later than that.