Wednesday, January 20, 2010


As we have all learned from watching The Crocodile Hunter, everything in Australia is big and sharp and wants to kill you. Reptiles, dust storms, Paul Hogan. Kangaroos will kick you to death for your lunch money and Koalas, the scourge of the Outback, want nothing more to suffocate you with their overpowering stench of shit and cough drops. In Razorback, Highlander’s Russell Mulcahy, adapts Petet Brennan’s novel which posits that, given the opportunity, even feral pigs will grow to the size of Volkswagons and go Animal Farm on your ass.

The titular be-tusked critter introduces itself before the opening credits have finished by running straight through Jake Cullen’s house, killing his toddler grandson. Unable to convince anyone that a giant boar wrecked his house and his life, Jake is accused of murder, even his own family turns their backs on him. Crafty pig, this razorback, able to feast on human flesh and frame people for the crime! Two years later, an American wildlife reporter, in Australia to do an expose on wild pigs and kangaroos used as food, is attacked by the same pair of grimy psycho Aussies found in most Ozsploitation pics and is left to die at the hoofs of the murderous, overcompensating Arnold. This just brings her intrepid husband to the land downunder to suss out the details of his wife’s death. During his search, he meets said psychos and the giant pig and much, much violence ensues.

For a variety of reasons, Razorback is one of those movies I’d more or less avoided for years, despite having ample opportunity to pop it in. Jaws being the obvious exception, I’ve just never been hip to the “man vs. ugly, angry nature” subgenre of survival horror. It wan’t until seeing clips of it on the gloriously-wonderful Ozsploitation documentary, Not Quite Hollywood, that I decided to seek it out. And, of course, as soon as I wanted to see it, copies vanished off the face of the Earth. Finally running down a PAL DVD, I found Razorback to be an unpretentious treat. Mulcahy overcomes his low budget with stylish camera work and an alternating pace of suspense and rapid-fire action.

The title character is mostly glimpsed speeding past the camera, with extreme close ups on eyes and bloody tusks, and that’s fine. Obviously a mechanical rodeo bull on a track, Mulcahy does his best to masquerade the puppet’s shortcomings and pulls off a nice homage to the aforementioned Jaws at the same time. As far as our hero goes, husband “Carl” is unfortunately played by Gregory Harrison. We of the ‘80s childhood remember him from Trapper John, M.D. and have fond memories of rooting for his death at the hands of anyone or anything, be them giant pigs or Pernell Roberts. There’s just something smarmy about him that removes all sympathy. His manner seems to say, “Hi, Gregory Harrison. I’m superior to you and my teeth are very white.” Seeing him eaten by an enormous mechanical pig wouldn’t be the worst thing I’d ever witness.

Personal bias aside, I suppose he’s as good as anyone else would be in the role. You’re not seeking out Razorback because it’s a Gregory Harrison movie anyway. You’re watching because you’re in the mood for a killer pig movie! In short, Razorback is stylish, violent and very satisfying. If the idea of “killer pig movie” turns you off, try to think of it as a western rife with nasty nature. 

While VHS copies used to blacken the sky once upon a time, they can be pretty pricey to obtain nowadays. The Warner Archive Collection finally released a movie-only DVD last summer, so it can be had. If I haven’t said it enough already, you could do far worse and have much less fun.

1 comment :

  1. Russell Mulcahy's pulled off a fine flick in this one, and it certainly is far superior to Highlander 2.

    I agree, a fun flick.