#4 (tie) - 18 Votes
Viewing the movie a few years ago, what stuck with me most strongly was its perversely unconventional structure. The clash between the "civilized" teacher and the boozing, brawling locals primes one to expect the movie to build towards a violent standoff akin to the same year's Straw Dogs. Without giving anything away, that's not what happens here, and what disturbed me most greatly about the movie is how director Ted Kotcheff (who'd go on to direct higher-profile movies like First Blood and Weekend at Bernie's) keeps the tensions on a constant simmer without letting it boil over, denying us the catharsis we've come to expect. There's truly no escape here, which is largely why the movie lingers uncomfortably in my memory. Wake in Fright isn't a "fun" horror movie, or even a horror movie in the conventional sense, but if you have a taste for the strong stuff, few movies are more deeply unnerving.
U.S. Release Date: October 13, 1971 (Also released that week: Macbeth, Murmur of the Heart, Shoot Out)