Saturday, September 27, 2008

Razorback (1984)

Let's get this out of the way right now: A movie about a killer pig CAN be scary...if done right. Russell Mulcahy's wild-giant-boar-rampaging-through-the-outback-creature-feature, “Razorback.” isn't just done right, it's done perfectly, absolutely perfectly. Seeing it for the first time, on a big screen no less, I knew immediately that this was without a doubt one of the best Horror movies I'd ever seen.

From the opening sequence that begins with a loving grandfather (Bill Kerr) tucking his young grandson into bed and ends with that man's world crashing down around him in a ball of dust and flames as a giant savage runs riot through the child's bedroom, I knew that this was no ordinary pig movie. The epic scope of the cinematography (helmed by Dean Semler) in this sequence made my legs tense up with excitement as I watched the grandfather, Jake, stumble away from his burning house and collapse in distress over the brutal death of his grandson.

As the plot unfolds, Jake is brought to trial for the death of his grandson because no one believes his story that a giant pig stormed through the house and snatched the child up. Jake is acquitted though during the trial, due to lack of evidence, but his reputation is sullied, and he becomes hellbent on revenge against the beast that tore down his life.

Meanwhile, an animal rights activist and America television reporter, Beth Winters, travels to Australia to investigate and conduct interviews about kangaroo poaching. Naturally, she is met with hostility from the locals, especially from two ruffians, Benny and Dicko, whose entire demeanor is equal parts inbred-post-apocalyptic-hillbilly & New-Wave-chic. They are ugly folks who have nothing but ugliness on their minds. After an unfortunate run in with Benny and Dicko in the middle of nowhere, Beth escapes sexual assault, but ironically doesn't escape the wrath of the giant boar.

Beth's death is considered to be a freak accident by the locals, but when her husband, Carl, arrives in town, it becomes apparent real fast that he suspects something else caused her death. Can Carl, a stranger in a strange land, find out the truth about his wife's death? Will Jake get his revenge against the beast? Will Benny and Dicko get what's coming to them? And what is the deal with that beautiful girl in the middle of nowhere that tracks boars all day for no reason? These are all questions I let the film answer for you.

For my money, there is just no shortage of things to like about this movie. The creature design by Bob McCarron (“Dead Alive) is unique and effective. The hyperkinetic cinematography is just plain breathtaking in it's eerie use of stark imagery, wide open spaces, and outrageous lighting, especially in Carl's incredible hallucinogenic dream sequence. The tension is wrought and unbearable at times, but the action is nonstop and for lack of better word, badassss. Even the performances are great, especially from Bill Kerr as Jake.

Watching this on the heels of “Dark Age” the night before, I couldn't help but compare the two in my head. This movie was in every way everything I hoped “Dark Age” would be, a balls-to-the-wall ass-kicking, monster movie.

“Razorback” screened at midnight on 9/18/08 at the Alamo Ritz and was presented by Terror Thursday as part of the Not Quite Hollywood series.

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