The Wizard of Aus
1989 saw the fifteeth anniversary of the Australian Film Institute. And what finer way to celebrate this cultural landmark than by remaking the favourite film its founding year in an Australian setting? A mere two years later “The Wizard of Aus” was released to widespread critical acclaim across the red continent. The Sydney Daily Herald called it “A fair dinkum delight”; The Adelaide Post proclaiming it simply “A rip-snorting bonzer night out.”
The new version of this MGM classic transplanted the events from Mid-Western America to the similarly vast expanses of the state of Western Australia. Here the heroine, Doreen, lives on her Aunt Emlene’s lonely sheep-station. She dreams of a more exciting life in the city, but can only escape her monochrome existence through meaningless sexual encounters with itinerant farm-workers and by staying “Over the Rainbow” by repeatedly licking cane-toads. The film followed the pattern of its American predecessor, subtly adapting its iconic scenes into an Australian context.
[The opening scene depicts Doreen walking her dog, Dingo, through the outback. As the credits fade out she appears suddenly in the barn where her Aunt and Uncle are sexing wallabies. She is exhausted, having run the 40 km back from her neighbour’s house.]
Aunt Em: Whatever is the matter girl?
Doreen: Oh, Aunt Em. Don’t let that wicked old Miss Felch take Dingo.
Aunt Em: Whyever would she want to do that, dear?
Doreen: She's spit the dummy 'cause she says he’s been eating her babies again. But he hasn’t Aunt Em, it was only the one. And he left the head.
[The evil Mrs Felch appears with a court order commanding that Dingo be fed to the saltwater crocodiles. Doreen allows him to run off. She knows that Dingo will be taken from her when he returns and so decides to follow him and run away too. As she follows, she day-dreams of being “Over the rainbow” and sips her Uncle’s whisky. She finds Dingo hiding behind the pig-sty and takes him back to the house to stuff a ruck-sack with cane-toads and more whisky before heading for the bright lights of the big city.]
[The camera pans across the front of the dust-beaten farm as Doreen walks away for the last time from the only place that has ever been home. Choking back tears, she sings of an oft dreamed of paradise where Dingo will be safe, where beer runs freely all day and she will never again need to face reality sober.]
|“||Somewhere, flying by Qantas, way up high,
There’s a bar that I heard of, once – from a shearer-guy.
Somewhere, flying by Qantas, skies are blue,
And the eskies are loaded up with ice-cold brews.
Someday I’ll make it to that bar,
And wake up with a stranger by me.
With vomit smeared around my lips,
And lying across last night’s chips,
That’s where you’ll find me.
Somewhere, maybe on Qantas, emus fly.
Abos bludge off the dole for years.
Why then… oh, why can’t I?
If little, black fellas can stay high,
Why, oh, why can’t I?
Doreen (slurring her words): Dingo, there you are! Here have some of Uncle Bruce’s good stuff.
[She pours whisky into a dog-bowl from a ¾ empty bottle. She is clearly unsteady on her feet.]
Doreen: If that Wicked Old Bitch, Felch, comes back to get you I’ll show her – I’ll smash her fuckin’ face in.
[Doreen tries to stand.]
Doreen: Crikey, Dingo, the room’s spinning. It’s making me feel dizzy.
[She closes her eyes.]
Doreen: Cripes, now the whole house is spinning. It’s like it’s trying to take off!
[Doreen stumbles and bangs her head on the dressing table. As she lies on the floor urine begins to stain the carpet.]
Far, Far Away
[Doreen looks around a new, Technicolor world. She is aghast.]
Doreen: I don’t think we’re in Kalgoorlie any more, Dingo. Look, the grass is …. It’s green.
[A beautiful woman descends in a bubble.]
Doreen: Who are you?
Glindene: I’m the Bitch of the North. But fear not, for I am a Good Bitch - just don't get in my way at the shoe-shop. You can call me Glindene. The Bunyips summoned me because they said a drunk had fallen on the wicked Bitch of the East. Tell me, are you a good drunk, or a bad drunk?
Doreen: Why, I’m hardly drunk at all. You should see me on a Saturday. Anyway, I thought bitches were ugly but you’re lovely. Fancy a bunk-up? I’ve never done it with a Sheila before but I've nearly finished Uncle Bruce's whisky. If you’ve got any beer I’ll try anything once. Well, not animals... not unless you’ve got loads and loads of beer.
[A crowd of small men appear in quick-release knee-breeches. They stare at Doreen lustfully.]
Doreen: On second thoughts, maybe I’ve had enough – I’ve started seeing things.
Glindene: Fear not, Doreen. These are the Bunyips – they’ve come to worship you for freeing them from the Wicked Bitch of the East. You see, when you collapsed in a drunken stupor, you fell on her and drove her broomstick through her heart. The bunyips want to…
Doreen: Oh, I know what they want all right....Do they have beer? Tell them I’ll shag the lot of them for two beers each. No more than three at a time mind, I have standards.
[The Wicked Bitch of the West arrives. She is angry at Doreen for killing her sister. Doreen offers herself at a discount, but the Wicked Bitch isn’t interested and threatens to kill her.]
Glindene (whispering to Doreen): Quick take off those old boots and put on the Wicked Bitch of the East’s Grubby Slippers, they're magic.
[Nevertheless, she wears the Grubby Slippers. The Wicked Bitch of the West is distracted by the Bunyips who are trying to peer up her skirt. She howls with anguish when she sees the Grubby slippers on Doreen's feet but she has no power in Bunyipland. Doreen is saved. The Bunyips begin to celebrate but quickly stop when they remember that Bunyipland is a dry county and they’ll never get a go on Doreen without beer.]
Doreen: But how shall I ever get pissed?
Glindene: Only the Brewer of Suds can help you.
Doreen: The Brewer of Suds, is he a wizard?
Doreen: But how will I ever get there?
Glindene: The same way people get anywhere in Western Australia – Follow the buggered dirt road.
[The Bunyips begin to sing and steer Doreen along the track that leads from their kingdom to Amber Nectar City, climbing trees along the way in the hope of seeing down her blouse.]
|“||Follow the buggered dirt road,
Follow the buggered dirt road,
Follow, follow, follow, follow,
Follow the buggered dirt road.
Oh, we’re off to see the Brewer,
The wonderful Brewer of Suds.
We hear he is a bit of a git,
If ever a git there was.
If ever, oh ever a git there was,
The Brewer of Suds is one because...
[The gate to Bunyipland slams behind Doreen as she skips along the buggered dirt road.]
Doreen (protesting): But without a designated driver I’ll have to walk!
[A Bunyip face appears in a window half way up the mighty gate.]
Bunyip: And stay out, you lanky lush.
The Buggered Dirt Road
[Faced with no choice but to continue, Doreen faces her fears the only way she knows how. She downs the remaining whisky and licks a cane-toad from her back-pack. Eventually she reaches crossroads. Dingo barks furiously.]
Doreen: Oh, which way now, Dingo? Maybe this way.
Unseen voice: Oh sure, go that way, you slut.
Doreen (turning): But who...
Unseen voice: Or that way's just as good. Why not lie down and put one of those Grubby Slippers on each path - you look like you spend most of your life in a Y-shape anyway.
[Doreen turns again and sees a scarecrow tangled in a rusty barbed-wire fence. Dingo bites his foot.]
Doreen: I'm sorry, he always does that to abos. But could you help us, sir? We're new here - which path should we take to reach Amber Nectar City?
Scarecrow: I'll tell you for a pot of good cheer. I'm dying of thirst here, my mouth's as dry as a nun's cunt.
Doreen: But why don't you just go to Amber Nectar City yourself?
Scarecrow: Don't you think I want to? You think I’m just standing around all day with a rod up my arse? I was on my way when I got a bit more pissed than I intended and got tangled up in this rabbit-proof fence. If you get me off we could go together, there's plenty of beer in the city for both of us.
Doreen (untangling the Scarecrow): But what does a strawman need with beer anyway?
Scarecrow: Why, if I had enough beer I could:
|“||I could ease some mental scars,
Hangin’ in gay bars,
Drinkin' lots of beer.
And my boyfriend I'd be blowin',
I wouldn't care who's knowin',
I'd be an anal engineer.
Oh, I’d exorcise my demon,
While gargling with semen.
If I could drink some beer.
Think what your mates would say,
If they knew that you were gay.
If they knew you were a queer.
Scarecrow: But how will we ever pay for the beer? The Brewer of Suds charges $10 a pint!
Doreen: There's always a way for a new girl in town to earn an honest dollar. I'll make enough money to keep both of us shit-faced.
Scarecrow: Maybe the Brewer likes boys, that way I could help out!
[Doreen and the Scarecrow walk arm in arm along the buggered dirt road. Together they sing:]
|“||Oh, we're off to see the Brewer,
The wonderful Brewer of Suds.
Workin' flat on my back,
I'll get pissed as a rat.
And act like a twat,
Yes, I'll shit in my hat.
We're off to see the Brewer,
The Wonderful Brewer of Suds.
She'll be Apples, mate
[Along the buggered dirt road they find a forest. Hungry, Doreen and the Scarecrow pick all the remaining apples from the trees. After squeezing the last cane-toads they begin to hallucinate that the trees are throwing fruit at them. They run in panic, blundering into the wood-cutter, rusted in place with his axe still over his shoulder.]
Tinman: Hey you! Yes, you there - the hobo and the slut. Help me!
Scarecrow: Should we help him, Doreen?
Doreen: Of course, we are in a dark forest after all. What harm could come from talking to a random stranger with an axe? Anyway, he may have some grog.
[They help the Tinman sit down, oiling his joints from a can Scarecrow has brought in his pocket.]
Tinman: Good on ya, mate. You're pretty kind for a tramp - and his tramp.
Scarecrow: I never travel without lubricant, you just don't know when you may need it next!
Doreen: But how did you get this way?
Tinman: It's my own fault... I was out getting wood - watching wombats doing the naughty always makes me crack a fat 'un. I got caught in the rain. I've been standing there rusted for years with no one to talk to but myself. Sometimes the conversations went on for hours like I had a couple of Kangaroos loose in the top paddock.
Scarecrow: You should take more care to keep yourself well lubricated.
Tinman: If I only had more beer, I could stay properly oiled forever...
Doreen: Then come to Amber Nectar City with us. We're going to get so trolleyed your joints will never seize up again.
|“||When your head's an empty kettle,
You must be on your mettle,
Brewin' cider all night long.
Oh, these apples must be boiled,
If I'm to stay well oiled,
And sing this stupid song.
[The three friends carry on their way through.]
Doreen: Do you suppose there are Tasmanian Devils in these woods?
Tinman: Who cares?
Doreen: Aren't you scared?
Tinman: Nah, no worries. I'm hard as nails, me.
Scarecrow: Besides, Tasmanian Devils don't eat straw. And they're solitary hunters so if we do meet one it'll be happy enough to just eat you.
[A ferocious snarling terrifies Doreen. A large lion bounds onto the buggered dirt road, trips and laughs hysterically. Soon the laughter turns to bitter tears.]
Doreen:It's a lion. And he's got no grundies on.
Tinman: Strewth, mate. Do us all a favour and at least wear a pair of budgie smugglers - we can all see your nadger.
Scarecrow: I rather like it.
Lion: Go on, fuck you all. I'll fight every one of you with one paw behind my back.
[He tries to stand again but is overcome with a fit of coughing and retching. Dingo barks ferociously.]
Tinman: Oh, bloody hell. That's a sorry excuse for a lion - he's got liquid laugh all over his mane.
Doreen (tentatively approaching):Mr Lion, you seem to have the wobbly boot on.
Lion: What of it? A lion can enjoy a drink can't he? How would you feel if you were a lion and you needed Dutch courage before you went out hunting? Oh, God, I'm a disgrace to my species! Why can't I just rip prey to pieces sober like everyone else in the family... I'm so ashamed. Don't look at me!
[Dingo walks over and cocks his leg on the Lion.]
Doreen: Don't worry, Mr Lion. I didn't mean it as an insult - we just wondered where you got the grog. We're running short of cider, you see and it's still a long way to the Amber Nectar City.
Lion: There is no more grog! That's the trouble, don't you see. How will I cope sober?
Tinman: Well, you could come with us. There gotta be at least one bar in Amber Nectar City that will let us in with an animal.
Scarecrow: We could say he was a guide-dog if one of us pretends to be blind.
Doreen: By the time we've drunk the Brewer of Suds dry we'll all be blind!
Lion: You're my best friends! I fuckin' love you... I've always fuckin loved you. You're my mates.
[When the lion has finished vomitting the party skip along the buggered dirt road arm in arm.]
The Bitch is back.
[The Wicked Bitch watches the four friends in her crystal ball. In their cages, her winged Drongos howl. A cauldron bubbles as the Bitch brews a poisonous concoction.]
Bitch: Soon, my pretties, you will feast on their worthless carcasses. But first I have a plan of my own. I will kill them in the cruellest way - with Vegemite!
[The cauldron boils at the addition of the foul, brown liquid. The Bitch cackles and the drongos howl in anticipation as the camera closes in on the crystal ball. A blurry image of Doreen and her friends appears, they are still skipping happily towards the city.]
Scarecrow: Oh, what beautiful red flowers, Doreen.
Lion: I could be so off my face that I'd kill the elephants without shitting myself - as long as they're unconscious! You should try some.
Tinman: In a pig's arse! I've seen too many good androids turn into junkies.
[Soon both the Lion and Doreen are unconscious. The Tinman hears the Wicked Bitch's laugh and appeals for Glindene's help to revive his friends before it's too late. In response, the sky clouds over and the weather deteriorates.]
Scarecrow: Snow, what use is snow?
Tinman: Shut up and help me get Doreen to inhale a couple of lines. Glindene knows what she's doing - there's nothing like snow to bring you round when you're in a catatonic coma. Doreen's just lying here with her skirt around her ears showing the world her map of Tasmania.
[Scarecrow and Tinman revive their companions and soon they resume their journey. Within moments they have spotted the long-wished for city. Tinman knocks on the gate. An angry face appears in a window.]
Guard: Fuck off, it's the wrong time of year for penny for the guy. And take that slapper and her mangey pussy with you. And the lion. Can't you read?
[He points to a tiny notice on the gate. Doreen reads it aloud.]
Doreen: "AusFest cancelled. No Refunds." But we don't want a refund - we never had tickets.
Guard: Then you're not coming in anyway.
Lion: But Doreen fell from the sky and killed the Wicked Bitch. Look, she's got the Grubby Slippers.
Guard: Yeah? And her mother wore Army boots. But you're still not coming in.
[He slams the door.]
Tinman (crying): Now we'll never get any bloody beer!
Doreen: Leave it to me.
[She knocks gently on the gate and whispers to the Guard. The guard slowly opens the door. Doreen disappears into the guardroom and emerges minutes later, beckoning her friends inside as she wipes her mouth with a napkin.]
Doreen: He says we can see The Brewer in ten minutes.
Inside the city
[Once inside the city walls, Doreen and her companions waste no time making their way to the Brewer's palace.]
Brewer's Butler:You want to see The Brewer? But nobody sees the Great Aus! I've never seen him at all.
Doreen: Well, then -- how do you know there is one?
Brewer's Butler: Well, we hear him singing sometimes, if you can call it singing! You can't blame him - surrounded by all that lovely beer and his dreadful wife leaving him alone to raise two retarded children
Doreen: Oh, please let us in. I'd do anything if you help us...
[The doorman backs away from her advances.]
Brewer's Butler: Rack off, you slut.
[He slams the door.]
Lion: Well, what are we going to do now? You've scared him off.
[The Butler reappears.]
Brewer's Butler: But if your friend with the straw coloured hair's up for it?
Scarecrow: Anything for a man in uniform!
[The others dance around the room while the Scarecrow disappears with the Butler.]
Lion: Oh, I hope The Brewer gives us beer. Why, if I had beer I wouldn't be afraid of anything. Not nobody, not no-how!
Tinman: Not even a rhinoceros?
Doreen: A dirty great rat?
Lion: Well, maybe of that.
Tinman: A big wolverine?
Doreen: He'd scream like a queen
Tinman: A lovely penguin?
Doreen: He'd hide in a bin!
Tinman: A squirrel that's grey?
Doreen: He'd just run away.
Lion: I tell you I'd show them who's boss
|“||What makes a hero from a poltroon?
The Brewer of Suds
[Inside The Brewer's chamber strange smoke billows and eery lights flash. A disembodied voice booms from the dark in tones so low the friends' very bodies vibrate.]
Brewer: Mind your feet. There's fucking dog shit everywhere in here.
[The intrepid four edge slowly forward, carefully.]
Brewer: And why's that fucking Scarecrow grinning like a fucking idiot?
Doreen: He's... he's just had sex for the first time, oh Great Aus.
Brewer: Good on you, sport. Take a seat and tell me all about it.
Scarecrow: If you don't mind, sir - I can't sit down for a while.
Brewer: Suit yourself. Anyway, what do you want? And who the fuck let you in? I told that fucking butler - no tradesmen, no press, no fucking fans.
Doreen: Please, sir. Are you The Great Aus - The Brewer of Suds.
Brewer: Sure, why not. I prefer Prince of Darkness, mind.
Doreen: Oh, please, Great Aus. We need beer.
Brewer: That's what you need now ... first it's beer, then before you know it you're taking Jack Daniels intravenously and popping prescription pain-killers. I've fucking been there, pal. Believe me, it's no fun after a while.
Doreen: But please, sir. I'd do anything if you'd help us...
Brewer: Look, no offense, love. But I've had birds chucking themselves at me since Sabbath days. If you want beer, you'll have to fucking pay for it like everyone else.
Brewer: Well, there are a few things. When Sharon left, she took loads of my stuff - skulls, the platinum disc I got for "Paranoid", you name it - she took everything cool and left these pissing dogs and the retards. If you get my gear back you can have as much beer as you like.
Doreen: Oh thank you, Great Aus. But where can we find Sharon?
Brewer: Well, where do you think - she's the fucking Wicked Bitch of the West now. She lives in that creepy castle beyond the Haunted fucking Forest. You wouldn't catch me going through there, mind. I hear the Haunted Forest is haunted.
The Haunted Forest
[Tentatively, the four friends approach the menace of the Haunted Forest. Dingo barks continuously. The Lion shivers with fear. The Scarecrow is still grinning.]
Lion: Maybe we shouldn't go in there.
Scarecrow: We could go back to the city and see if we can turn enough tricks to pay for some beer.
Lion: Absolutely, there may be spooks in there.
Doreen (to the Tinman): Do you believe in spooks?
Tinman: No bloody way. If we'd stuck with the White Australia policy there wouldn't be any spooks in the country.
[Suddenly, out of nowhere the winged Drongos swoop down from the clouds. The Tinman swings his axe over and over to defend his friends, but Dorothy and Dingo are abducted and the Scarecrow's body ripped apart.]
The Bitch's Castle
[Inside the Creepy Castle the Drongos snicker. Doreen is tied up. She seems familiar with the situation. Dingo barks in her arms.]
Bitch: Give me the Grubby Slippers and I will let you go, child.
Doreen: You wouldn't consider a shag instead? Only I think the fungal infection in my big toe-nails has grown into the slippers - I'm not sure they'll come off now.
Bitch: I should have known I'd never be able to take them from you alive. So be it.
[She overturns a large sand-filled hourglass.]
Bitch: I'll wait until these sands have run their course and then I'll have the Drongos finish you off.
Doreen (anguished): But why?
Bitch: Because it's a traditional plot-device, obviously.
[The Bitch laughs evilly. The Drongos join in, forming an unsettling chorus. Unseen, Dingos jumps to the floor and scampers off.]
Doreen: That's right, you little pikey. Piss off now when I most need you.
The Haunted Forest (slight reprise)
[The Lion and the Tinman are pushing straw back into the Scarecrow's body.]
Tinman (to Scarecrow): Are you okay?
Scarecrow: Better than okay - that's the second time today I've had a good stuffing.
Tinman (to Lion): And what happened to you when we needed you?
Lion: I think I may be evolving - Lions aren't meant to be able to dig burrows but as soon as I saw the Drongos....
Lion: Well, duh.
[They hear barking and look up, afraid that the Drongos have returned.]
Both: Dingo, you're back. Where's Doreen?
Tinman: What's that you say, boy? Doreen's fallen down and well and you want us to follow you?
The Creepy Castle Again
[Doreen cries in the Bitch's lonely pleasure dungeon. The Bitch has tired of staring into her crystal ball to watch re-runs of herself in America's Got Talent and has left Doreen to stare longingly into it. The visions of home that Doreen sees only add to her tears.]
Doreen: Oh, Aunt Em... if only I'd known I'd never have come to this terrible place. And I'd have let Miss Felch take that traitorous little shit-machine Dingo and make a hand-bag from him. I should never have run away from home, I didn't really mind Uncle Bruce touching me.
[Suddenly, Tinman and Scarecrow burst in dressed as guards and led by a yapping Dingo.]
Doreen: You risked your own necks to rescue me! But why?
Tinman: Who else has an axe to chop down doors?
Scarecrow: And I thought I might be able to pick up some chains and dungeon gear, The Brewer's butler says he likes it rough.
Doreen: And the Lion... didn't he make it through the defences?
Tinman: No way! He's hiding in the dunny like the big nonce he is.
Doreen: Well, I expect it is the safest place - it's built like a brick shit-house after all.
[As the Tinman frees Doreen with one mighty swing of his axe, the Wicked Bitch returns. They are quickly surrounded by Drongos.]
Bitch: Thought you'd cheat me of my fun, eh? I'll show you. I'll kill both of you and that noxious, little dog in front of Doreen's eyes and then I'll have those enchanting Slippers. Explaining the plot to you is another standard plot device.
[Drongos seize the Tinman, Dingo and Doreen. While others set fire to the straw still hanging from the Screcrow's chest.]
Bitch: No, you fools!
Doreen (looking at the pool of goo that was once the Bitch): Well, what do you know. She'd had so much plastic surgery she actually melted.
All's well that ends soon.
[The friends return to The Brewer's palace. This time they see through the smoke and booming voice. They pull back a curtain to find a small man with long black hair and blue glasses, apparently unable to cope in the modern world. They give him his missing possessions and demand the beer he promised.]
Brewer: Hold your fucking horses, Scarecrow, you great poofter. You don't need beer to come out of the fucking closet, like. You've been misinformed. You need to take some pride in your deviant fucking sexuality, mate. Bend over and take it like a man.
Scarecrow: Why, you're right. I'll wear mother's ballgown and drive across the outback in an old bus putting on a drag show. Who knows, I may get lucky with a lonely shepherd...
Brewer: And you, Lion. You don't need beer to conquer your fear of other animals. You just need to remind yourself who's King of the fucking jungle.
Lion: By God, he's right. I'll show them. I'll wrestle every crocodile, I'll poke poisonous snakes with a stick to make them grumpy. Why, I'll bop sharks on the nose and swim with stingrays - what could be finer!
Tinman: And me, surely I need beer to stay oiled.
Brewer: Bollocks, you just need to be recycled into one of those new fucking stainless steel sports cars, like. That way you won't rust and you'll be beating off the sheilas with a shitty stick. And you, whore girl. Now that you've melted that bitch, Sharon, I could probably make a balloon from the excess skin and fly you back to Kalgoorlie. You'd like that, wouldn't you?
Brewer: Or you could stay here, with me. You wouldn't have to sleep with strangers for pennies just to pay for beer.
Doreen: I wouldn't?
Brewer: Of course not. If I was your pimp I'd collect the money for you and find out the clients' names so you could be introduced before you slept with them.
Doreen: Oh, this really is magical place. I want to stay here forever.
Brewer: Then just click your heels and keep them as far apart as possible.