A schoolteacher gets waylaid in the Australian outback and takes a journey into the heart of darkness in WAKE IN FRIGHT, a revered and groundbreaking thriller that for 40 years lived only in the memory of its initial viewers. But following its miraculous recovery and restoration, the "lost" film made a triumphant return to screens nationwide this fall. Now it will make its home entertainment debut when Drafthouse Films releases it on high-definition Blu-ray and DVD on January 15, 2013.
Alongside Mad Max and Walkabout, WAKE IN FRIGHT is widely acknowledged as one of the seminal films of modern Australian cinema. Author Neil Rattigan, in his book about the New Australian Cinema, Images of Australia, called it "a cinematic trip into hell. ... No other Australian film offers such a savage indictment of a great number of cherished cultural perceptions."
Directed by Ted Kotcheff (First Blood, North Dallas Forty, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz), the movie tells the story of a British schoolteacher's descent into personal demoralization at the hands of the deranged, hard-drinking residents of a remote Australian town. John Grant (Gary Bond, Anne of the Thousand Days, the BBC's Great Expectations) teaches at a tiny school in the outback. On his way to Sydney to catch a vacation flight, he stops in a rural mining town, where he is reluctantly drawn into the macho antics of the local men. After losing his money in the gambling game two-up, he is taken on a drunken and brutal kangaroo hunt with three of the beer-guzzling louts - a horrifying ordeal that culminates in a shattering sexual assault.
WAKE IN FRIGHT had its world premiere at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival, where it was nominated for a Palme d'Or. Retitled Outback and hurried into a few theaters across the U.S. with minimal advertising support, the movie lasted barely a week before it was pulled from circulation and vanished into obscurity. For over three decades the film materials were thought to be lost, until the movie's persistent cinematographer unearthed the original negative elements in Pennsylvania in canisters marked for imminent destruction.
The materials were painstakingly restored frame by frame and the new restoration was invited back to Cannes in 2009. Guest curator Martin Scorsese said: "WAKE IN FRIGHT is a deeply - and I mean deeply - unsettling and disturbing movie. I saw it when it premiered at Cannes in 1971, and it left me speechless. Visually, dramatically, atmospherically and psychologically, it's beautifully calibrated and it gets under your skin one encounter at a time, right along with the protagonist played by Gary Bond. I'm excited that WAKE IN FRIGHThas been preserved and restored and that it is finally getting the exposure it deserves."
The film went on to a successful theatrical release in 50 top markets this fall. It has been lauded for its stark and uncompromising vision by such champions as Rex Reed, who said "may be the greatest Australian film ever made," and celebrated musician and screenwriter Nick Cave, who said it's "the best and most terrifying film about Australia in existence."
WAKE IN FRIGHT - which co-stars versatile film favorite Donald Pleasence (Halloween, Escape From New York) and rugged Australian icons Jack Thompson (Breaker Morant) and Chips Rafferty (Mutiny on the Bounty) - is back to reclaim its title as one of the most awe-inspiring, brutal and stunning films of all time. And Drafthouse Films has created a Blu-ray/DVD package befitting the movie's status as a revered treasure.
Pre-orders for exclusive DVD/Blu-ray fan packs include a limited edition two-up gambling set available at http://drafthousefil.../wake-in-fright.
About Drafthouse Films
Drafthouse Films, the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, is a curated brand of provocative, visionary and artfully unusual films new and old from around the world. Drafthouse Films debuted in 2010 with the theatrical release of Four Lions, which was named one of Time magazine's "Top 10 Films of the Year." The 2012 release slate includes the internationally celebrated Danish comedy Klown (currently slated for a Warner Bros./Todd Phillips produced U.S. remake), the recently unearthed '80s tae kwon do actioner Miami Connection, Mark Hartley's Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films and, together with producing partners Magnolia Pictures and Timpson Films, the much-anticipated anthology horror film The ABC's of Death, featuring 26 directors in what Fangoria calls "a stunning roll call of some of the most exciting names in horror across the world." Drafthouse Films distributes films theatrically, on home video, VOD and their direct-to-consumer platforms integrating into the ever-growing Alamo Drafthouse entertainment lifestyle brand, which along with the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas includes: Mondo, the collectible art boutique; Fantastic Fest, the largest international genre film festival in the U.S.; and the pop culture website Badass Digest.
About RLJ Entertainment
RLJ Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: RLJE) is a premier independent licensee and distributor of entertainment content and programming in North America, the United Kingdom and Australia with over 5,200 exclusive titles. RLJE is a leader in numerous genres via its owned and distributed brands such as Acorn (British TV), Image (stand-up comedy, feature films), One Village (urban), Acacia (fitness), Slingshot (faith), Athena (educational), Criterion (art films) and Madacy (gift sets). These titles are distributed in multiple formats including DVD, Blu-ray, digital download, digital streaming, broadcast television (including satellite and cable), theatrical and non-theatrical. Via its majority-owned subsidiary Agatha Christie Limited, RLJE controls the intellectual property and publishing rights to some of the greatest works of mystery fiction, including stories of the iconic sleuths Miss Marple and Poirot. And through its direct-to-consumer business, RLJE has direct contacts and billings relationships with millions of consumers.
RLJE leverages its management experience to acquire, distribute, and monetize existing and original content for its many distribution channels, including its branded digital subscription channels, and engages a distinct audience with programming that appeals directly to their unique viewing interests. RLJE has proprietary e-commerce web sites for the Acorn and Acacia brands, and owns the recently launched Acorn TV digital subscription service.