« Movies

WEIRDO FLICKS: 'Incident at Raven's Gate'

by Eli Kroes

You might not be familiar with the term 'Z-Movie,' but if you grew up in the 90's, chances are you've seen one. They're the beyond-low-budget monstrosities that teased you from the walls of the mom-and-pop video store. Usually, the films themselves could never live up to the pictures on the videotape boxes (because this was way before your fancy 'Digital Video Discs' and 'Blu-Rays') but occasionally you'd find something truly unique. 'WEIRDO FLICKS' will clue you into some movies which 'unique' doesn't even begin to describe...

'Incident at Raven's Gate' - 1988, Directed by Rolf de Heer

Wow. This was a VERY strange one. I don't even know how to approach this review.

I guess, let's say it's an arthouse sci-fi flick from Australia, that may or may not be about aliens. It's sort of slow-moving, and kind of leaves you with a creepy feeling.

The general plot is as follows: Some kind of military guy is investigating a possible UFO report in an area called Raven's Gate, part of the Australian outback. When he arrives at the town, he discovers that several people are dead, missing, or insane, and that a couple buildings have been demolished by an unknown force. He forces a local police officer to help him, and then we jump back five days into the events.

So, there's a scientist obsessed with the idea of hydroponics, who is trying to grow prize-winning orchids on a small farm (keep in mind this is the OUTBACK, where it is almost always dry). He and his wife take in his younger punk brother, recently out of jail. Eddie, the brother, is a ne'er-do-well who would rather get drunk in town than help on the farm, but he does do the work asked of him.

However, things start happening...like a herd of sheep having the water sucked out of them...so Richard (the scientist) naturally suspects his brother isn't doing his job, and tension grows between them (Eddie also has a thing for Richard's wife, which seems to have existed before his jail sentence).

Strange things continue to happen, and various people go insane from coming face-to-face with something that may be an alien entity, or it may be something more complicated. Whatever the case, the 'thing' seems to really like water...

I won't give away any of the really weird stuff that happens, because it's best experienced without prior knowledge.

This movie felt, to me, like an 'X-Files' episode directed by one of Andy Warhol's cohorts. Or something like that. It is very arty and relies a lot on mood, but there's enough tension and strangeness throughout to keep a basic thriller fan involved. I really don't know what to make of it...especially the ending...but I'm pretty sure I enjoyed it.

VHS photo by Toby Hudson.