With 1988's Cane Toads: An Unnatural History, Australian documentary filmmaker Mark Lewis (The Natural History of the Chicken) introduced Sundance audiences to the cane toad--an amphibian imported Down Under in 1935 to control sugar cane larvae. Of course, the cane toad did nothing of the kind, and turned out to be a remarkably adaptable--and toxic-- creature, capable of killing dogs and pets with its poison glands. This time with Cane Toads: The Conquest, Lewis celebrates the toad as he tries to restore the balance by suggesting it's not all the toad's fault. He takes us from the toad 16 million years ago, through Puerto Rico and Hawaii to Australia and the evolution of the new and improved 3- D "Ava-Toad."
The movie is hilarious. Folks try to destroy the rapidly expanding toad population, hitting them with cricket bats, golf clubs and spearing them for sport. Think absurdist Peter Greenaway's The Falls meets Errol Morris's Fast, Cheap & Out of Control. My four-part flip-cam interview with the genial Lewis follows:
Part One: Why Return to the Cane Toad, and why use 3-D?
Part Two: Dramatic Vignettes, Wallace the Wonder Dog (Rescue 911)
Part Three: Scientists Defend Cane Toad, Mating, Romance, Monica's Pet, Dairy Queen
Part Four: The Ava-Toad, 3-D as Future-Proofing