This time out our “Halloween Review-athon” takes us on a trip way, waaay back to your Favorite Catgirl’s misspent youth for a “Lil’ Kitten Classics” look at when Giant Killers Pigs roamed the desolate Australian Outback in search of human prey… at least in the movies…
Giant Killer pigs from down under? Yep… back in 1984 this one snuck out of the “Land down Under” and tried it’s best to convince us all that crazy man-eating wild pigs were scary. If my memory serves me right, I was a wee impressionable girl of 11 the year this one hit video, and naturally…. when it was my turn to pick a film for family movie night, one look at the cover convinced me there could really be no other choice. I can still hear Grandma now…. “Miyuki!! Giant pig movie not good!! Little girls not to watch these things! You need to pick better movie.”
But nooooo!! Lil’ Miyuki would have none of that… so we did indeed spend an evening watching Gregory Harrison save Australia from the “Giant Pig Menace”….. much to my poor Grandma’s dismay. I thought it was great…. and my dad sorta liked it too…. but Mom and Grandma took it as another sign of just how American I was growing up to be despite their best efforts to make me into a proper lil’ Japanese girl.
It’s out on DVD… and I was lucky enough to score the Region Free PAL formatted Australian release for it. So…. the only question remains, “Is Carolyn ready to share this treasured childhood memory with me?” Hehehehe…. I sure hope so, ’cause ready or not, here comes “Razorback”!!
This one is a real hoot, start to finish… and is the first film ever directed by veteran MTV music video director Russell Mulcahy who later went on to score big with “Highlander”…and was actually a Winner of two Australian Film Institute Awards for Cinematography and Film Editing. Yep…. a simple lil’ film that basically takes “Jaws” and turns it into a movie about a big pig!! Lil’ Miyuki never knew any of that…. but grown up me is all suitably impressed I can tell you. The imagery is rich and gorgeous right from the first shots straight on throughout the film. I hadn’t noticed just how beautifully this film had been shot until re-watching it all these years later.
We start out with grizzled old hunter, Jake Cullen, (wonderfully played with genuine gusto by Bill Kerr) who is watching his grandson while his daughter is away in the quiet outback town of Gamulla. Out of nowhere one dark night, an enormous feral pig rampages through his house like a runaway freight train seizing the helpless baby, and nearly killing Jake before escaping again into the darkness. Everybody assumed the old man went crazy… killed his grandson and hid the body, since there could never be such a thing as the monster he describes to police. They put him on trial but there’s insufficient evidence to convict him of murder, so he is set free. His family and his friends all turn against him… the town shuns him…. nobody believes his story or his insistence in his innocence. So, like Captain Ahab, he grows cold and mean, distancing himself from most others,obsessed with only one remaining goal. Tracking down and killing that monster boar that carried off his grandson and ruined his life…… And this is all before the opening credits roll!
Years later, New York television journalist Beth Winters (played by Judy Morris) is assigned to travel to the town of Granulla to do an investigative expose on the kangaroo slaughter industry for animal rights groups Given that the local economy is pretty much based on this despicable practice she gets little cooperation from the locals. Her own cameraman tells her it’s pretty much a wash, but she’s determined to find out the grisly details of the business. When she visits the Pet-Pack slaughterhouse alone to get some pictures, she is spotted by the owners, crazy brothers Dicko and Benny Baker (played by Chris Haywood & David Argue respectively), who chase her down, wreck her car, and try to rape her. Before they can succeed, they get interrupted by the giant razorback, which kills Beth after they run for the hills. They keep quiet about the event and Beth gets reported missing, so her husband Carl (played by Gregory Harrison of “Trapper John; MD” fame) comes to Australia to find out what really happened to his missing wife.
From this point forward, the film goes pretty much like “Jaws”…. but with a lot more bleak “deser-ty” bits thrown in. We get the obligatory love interest in the form of Sarah Cameron (played by Arkie Whiteley), who finds our hero after he makes the mistake of trying to cozy up to the two psycho brothers in an attempt to find out what they know about his wife’s disappearance. Carl tells them he’s interested in opal mining and goes out pouching with the brothers at night and ultimately they abandon him way out in the desert figuring he’ll meet the same fate as his nosy wife. He almost does…. after staggering about in a truly freakish hallucinatory sequence before the big ol’ hog shows up. When Sarah encounters him, he’s just about dead from exhaustion and exposure, but she nurses him back to health at her farmstead and becomes a part of his investigation along with grim old Jake the vengeful hog hunter.
Like all good obsessed vengeance junkies, old Jake eventually falls prey to our killer piggy, after first getting the crap kicked out of him by the whacked out brothers for getting too close to them and their business. His death is probably the goriest moment in “Razorback”… surprising since there really isn’t that much overt bloody stuff to see throughout the film. The best moments are usually when the giant boar is shown in simple glimpses…. never all at once, including my favorite… when it pulls the entire side wall off a building and drags it into the night leaving the owner to stare unbelievably out of the huge hole in his house.
This all builds well to the final showdown at the creepy Cannery, with Carl finally facing off against the monster pig set against the gruesome mechanical maze of the factory, sort of like the finale of “Terminator”…. only this time, the Hog won’t be back…..
I liked this one!! It holds up pretty well to the way I remember it from my first viewing all those years back, and this time I was able to catch all the artful bits thrown in as well. The director, Russell Mulcahy, had already established himself by the time of “Razorback” as one of the most innovative of the original music video directors even directing the very first ever video clip ever shown for The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” back in 1981 when MTV first premiered. Here he injects “Razorback” with that same eye for bizarre and memorable images, particularly the hallucination sequence where Gregory Harrison wanders the desert seeing the most unsettling and nightmarish experiences of the film. He makes the Outback itself as much a character in this film as any of the actors…. giving it a mythic, “fanstasia” look that makes you believe that strange and terrible things might just lurk somewhere in Oz after all….
In conclusion… your Favorite Catgirl Princess gives “Razorback” a firm 4 “Meows” out of 5. It’s fun…. it’s easy on the eye….. with a plot that wont leave you lost and confused, and most importantly, it does makes you genuinely worry about being eaten alive by giant hairy pigs. Can you ask for anything better?
The Australian DVD is gorgeously done, wide screen in all Region PAL format with a nifty selection of Trailers on board for other Australian horror films, as well as an honest to goodness 70 minute behind the scenes documentary about the film as well as lots of deleted scenes and audio commentaries. Not a bad find for this lil Catgirl! Grab it yourself if you can find it, you won’t be sorry.
Yep….. can’t leave you without a Trailer, not on your life!!