So once again we have survived.

Razorback

How do you do an Australian version of JAWS? You can’t have a killer koala. Maybe a rogue kangaroo that goes around punching people or stealing babies in its pouch. In 1984 these guys went with a huge fucking boar. And that would’ve been a great headline for a review if the movie was bad, but actually I really liked it.

I know this is the kind of movie people write off immediately. It definitely is a ripoff of JAWS and redoing JAWS with a huge pig seems even funnier than redoing it with an orca. But the movie doesn’t give a fuck what you think. It knows what it is and it has no shame. Go ahead, laugh at the razorback. Laughing is healthy and will make you taste better. As one of our heroes says, “It has two states of being. Dangerous or dead.” Mostly the first one.

RazorbackThe director is Russell Mulcahy or “the HIGHLANDER guy” as he is now known but at the time he was “Russell Mulcahy” because he was a rookie. He directed lots of music videos though, including the very first one ever played on MTV. Yes, video killed the radio star, and Mulcahy was the killer. Some other guy originally took the rap but was later exonerated by DNA evidence.

Music video directors making movies can be bad news. Or it can be some of our most creative filmatists such as David Fincher, Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry. But usually you assume it means quick cuts and incoherent storytelling. In this case the transition from MTV to Australian cinemas was a good thing because they hadn’t figured out how to ruin editing yet. His experimentation in videos gave him a better eye for exaggerated visuals than your average movie director, and he used that to his advantage. He made a really great looking movie, kind of stylized, almost post-apocalyptic. Lots of orange outback skies, shooting stars, unnaturally fog-drenched nights, dirty shacks and weirdos with goggles and machetes.

In the opening scene the razorback runs through a guy’s house (and into our hearts). He goes in one wall, out the other, and suddenly the guy’s grandson is gone. The story is so crazy nobody believes him and they try him for murder. He gets off due to lack of evidence and dedicates his life to hunting that thing. So he’s our Quint or our Ahab. Or whoever it was that tried to hunt Benji in BENJI THE HUNTED.

But the story’s about an American animal rights advocate who comes to investigate the kangaroo dog food factory and her husband who comes looking for her when she gets Marion Craned. Along the way he meets two hunters crazy enough to be in TEXAS CHAIN SAW or ROAD WARRIOR and ends up on a walkabout where he hallucinates a horse skeleton tearing out of the salt flats and coming after him. Eventually they find his wife’s ring in some razorback shit and… well, you’d think it would be time for revenge but instead he tries to go home. Which is kind of funny because when you think about it that’s what alot of people would really do. In movies nobody would ever do that. But in real life alot of people would not think to get revenge on a pig. Doesn’t this thing already have it bad enough, being so big? I’m sure all the other pigs make fun of him. And we see that they’re scared of him. It’s gotta be hard making friends. It’s hard out here for a razorback.

But don’t worry, there will be revenge.

I know Mulcahy didn’t turn out to be the most reliable director, but he did a great job on this one. I was surprised to see how good he was back then. Lots of dynamic camera angles and momentum to the way it’s edited. I figure either he learned all the right lessons from his countryman George Miller or they just know how to make movies in Australia. This is one stylish horror movie with a touch of Tobe Hooper weirdness and some occasional detours into the surreal. And he does a good job getting a serious JAWS feel in parts. Like JAWS the killer animal is mostly an unseen force but when you get little glimpses of their fancy animatronic boar it’s pretty great.

Unfortunately it hasn’t been released on DVD in the US, you gotta get an import from Australia or the UK. But if you can track it down I think, like me, you’ll find yourself saying, “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.”

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Thursday, April 24th, 2008 at 10:39 am and is filed under Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 Responses to “Razorback”

  1. Now on DVD! Well sort of.

    http://www.wbshop.com/Razorback-+EST-MOD/1000112971,default,pd.html?cgid=ARCHIVEPRE

    Hey Vern, is RAZORBACK worth the twenty bucks?

    Now for my stupid question to WB Archive…when are we getting John Frankenheimer’s THE CHALLENGE?

  2. Well, I think it’s worth twenty bucks. But that’s me. Kinda lame though because I’m pretty sure the PAL dvd has a commentary track and making of documentary. Oh well, the movie’s the important thing.

    note: I heard the copy protection makes these unwatchable on a computer

  3. So I’ve heard.

    I know why WB is doing this to titles to like RAZORBACK and Mike Hodges’ TERMINAL MAN. They don’t want to spand the capital to put out obscure/fringe titles at best on DVD in this bad economy…so why not the best of both worlds (according to the accounting books) by putting them out on these cheaply pressed CD-Rs?

    The way I see it, better this than nothing in our Region. Who knows, maybe THE CHALLENGE and THE OUTFIT will eventually get released too?

    I wish Paramount though would just fucking release Michael Mann’s (truncated) THE KEEP. I mean we don’t have enough movies on DVD where Jurgen Prochnow fights a monster.

  4. Well, you could always get the R4 DVD, which I think is available for about $20 on Amazon. There’s a great making-of documentary on there. One annoying thing is that it’s the cut M-rated version. The include the R-rated scenes on the DVD so I don’t know why they couldn’t have put them into the film.

    Personally I think $20 is a steal for this film. Probably my favourite JAWS rip off of all time (sorry ORCA).

  5. You should also apologize to PIRAHNA. :)

  6. And Alligator. But Razorback is totally in the top five. That pig don’t fuck around.

  7. 5 Reason I Love “The Keep”
    by Mr. Subtlety

    1) I saw it in 2002, just as I became aware of Ian McKellen through “the Lord of the Rings”and when I saw him in “The Keep” I thought, “My God! He’s looked exactly the same since 1983!” Then I realized it was actually just very good old man makeup which predicts with eerie accuracy exactly what he would look like in 20 years.

    2) I like the design of the monster, which, instead of being kind of a generic thing as described in the book, now looks kind of like a golem, which I think plays up the Nazi/Jew angle and may even go a ways to explaining why McKellen’s character would trust it.

    3) Most inexplicable sex scene ever

    4) Least sexy sex scene ever

    5) The Monster says “I WILL DESTROY THEM!!!!” In the same voice, and with the same gusto as Morbo the news monster from Futurama. Which makes me very happy.

  8. just watched last night. lived up to my expectations ‘n then some. good recommendation Vern
    (my gf fell asleep, but I was glued).

  9. I really wish they would release this on dvd in America

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