The final part of the GIANT PIG Trilogy: Razorback(1984) stole my Grandson!
The third, and easily the best, of the GIANT PIG films has finally come my way. Often labelled as a Jaws rip-off, not without some justification, Razorback is Australia’s take on the large killer swine. Before I start, though, I have to say that I’m hugely impressed at a lot of the posters that I looked at for this. I went for the German one in the end, because it’s fucking cool, but I could easily have picked one of about 10. They just don’t make posters like this any more. I also love some of the straplines, such as Britain’s “It has two states of being: Dangerous or Dead” and Australia’s fantastic “900 pounds of marauding tusk and muscle.” Couple these brilliant taglines with that fantastic artwork, and goddamnit I almost want to watch the film again. Anyhoo, buckle up, because we’re going to the Outback to deal with the largest and easily the most dangerous GIANT PIG ever committed to Cinema. Unfortunately, we’ve got Russel Mulcahy as a guide, but if we can keep him off the gear for long enough we should be alright.
Razorback has easily the best opening of any GIANT PIG movie. A large and pissed off hog explodes out of the blue and literally punches through an old man’s house carrying his grandson off into the outback. This is simply spectacular and a brilliant calling card for the rest of the film. In fact, this scene and the following trial of Grandpa
Quint Jake (Bill Kerr), buy the film a lot of time in my opinion. The trial in particular with its echoes of the “Dingo stole my baby” trial from roughly the same period is actually quite unsettling in a way- the townspeople are out for blood and they struggle to believe that the animal expert couldn’t do anything to stop the pig. Enter our “heroes”, Carl and Beth (Gregory Harrison and Judy Morris), they’re a pair of vanilla as hell dimwits wandering around the outback. Beth disappears at the hands of two inbreds, Benny and Dicko (Chris Haywood & David Argue), and Carl has a disconcerting encounter with our giant porker. He’s rescued by Sarah (Arkie Whitely, now sadly dead) and this sparks the film into life and the battle for survival between Carl, Jake, Sarah and the oversized porker.
Firstly, this film looks fucking fantastic. Mulcahy started life as a music video director, and his previous credits include the (no matter what you think of the song or fat Welsh ginger bird Bonnie Tyler) fantastic Children of the Damned style Total Eclipse of the Heart music video. He’s absolutely in love with the Aussie outback, and much of the stunning visual work here is of lingering shots of it. There’s also no little visual flair in the shot composition of some of the various minor scenes as well, and I think my favourite is Razorback stealing the corner of a man’s house as he watches his TV diminish into the distance. This is both a very amusing scene and a very effective one.
Secondly, there are a number of fantastic set pieces in the film. The first is the huge hog’s rampage through the house which is without equal in GIANT PIG films, but leaving that aside, the scene at the watering hole with Razorback chilling with his smaller pig minions is stunning- even if Mulcahy does flat-out nick Spielberg’s famous zooming in shot from Jaws. This is a breathtakingly exciting part of the film, and watching the old codger pump round after round into the ginormous beast with little effect is genuinely gripping.
Which brings me on to my next point, the film uses the GIANT PIG extremely effectively. They obviously didn’t have the cash or the technology that later GIANT PIG efforts use, so for the most part the porker is hidden or kept off camera. When he is on, in the finale in the industrial looking warehouse bit, he’s not a disappointment being a huge mass of tusk and muscle and looking more than a little bit pissed off. As a model on covering up the limitations of budget, I find it very hard to fault Razorback. It did help that Mulcahy shot this section of the film with a heavy blue filter, and cleverly hid the bottom half of the pig mostly from sight.
The acting from the long pigs, as opposed to the GIANT PIG, is OK. Harrison is suitably bland and stupid in the lead, and it’s clear that he’s miles out of his depth. Whitely is sweet as the piggy expert, and Kerr magnificent as the grizzled ‘Roo hunter (the film may as well have called him Quint, to be honest), being a man on an obsessive Ahab-esque mission to capture and kill the giant pig and nail his hide outside the pub so everyone can see that he’s telling the truth. Haywood and Argue are also both good as the gruesome twosome but it’s their presence that leads to the problems in the film.
Basically, they aren’t needed, and more than that are actively nasty. The GIANT PIG is enough of a threat without these two dimwit refugees from Aussie Deliverance turning up and being overly unpleasant on camera. The Outback itself is a bleak, dangerous and desolate location, and is enough of a threat by itself, you don’t need these two absolute fucknuckles hanging around ruining the tone of the film. They’re so viscerally revolting that their every appearance on screen made me wince this time around, and they almost manage to take the shine of what is basically a fun Jaws on land effort.
At the end of the day this is a film I want to like much more than I actually do like it. Individual moments in it are genuinely awesome, and Mulcahy’s grab bag of directorial tricks ensures that the film is never less than glorious. Even watching today I was surprised at how good the exhaustion induced hallucination scene looks, and I just rue the fact that the script stuffed those two inbred nasties (honestly, they would fit right in at the dinner table in Texas Chainsaw Massacre) into the film. They aren’t needed, aren’t pleasant and are basically a rotten idea.
However, what I think doesn’t matter, so let’s hand over to GIANT PIG for his final summary:
HEAR THE FINAL WORD OF THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE GIANT PIG!
I AM PLEASED WITH THIS EFFORT AND WOULD LIKE TO THANK AUSTRALIA FOR STEALING JAWS AND DEDICATING IT TO THE GLORY OF GIANT PIG!
THIS IS A GOOD IDEA, AND ONE THAT PLEASES ME IN MY PORCINE MAGNIFICENCE.
HOWEVER, THERE IS FAR TOO MUCH FUCKING AROUND WITH INBREDS THAT ARE NOT FIT TO FLOSS MY TUSKS. WHAT IS THIS ABOUT? WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU PLAYING AT? DO YOU THINK MY WORSHIPERS CARE ABOUT THESE TWO FARTKNOCKERS? BECAUSE I PROMISE YOU, MEATBAGS, THAT THEY DO NOT.
NEVERTHELESS, THERE IS PLENTY OF SPLENDID GIANT PIG ACTION, AND THE WORLD CAN WITNESS THE DEVASTATION THAT GIANT PIG CAN WREAK ON YOUR FLIMSY HUMAN HABITATIONS.
THEREFORE, GIANT PIG IS PLEASED WITH YOU. AS A REWARD, I SHALL NOT CRUSH YOU BENEATH MY IMPOSING BULK AND I SHALL ENSURE THAT YOUR DOMICILE REMAINS UNMOLESTED.
NOW, BEGONE FROM MY SIGHT MEATBAGS, LEST YOU FEEL THE WRATH OF THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS GIANT PIG!
So, despite my misgivings, the pig digs Razorback. I have to agree with him, actually, that this clearly the best of the GIANT PIG FILMS made, so kudos to Australia.
Now, let’s have an actual good one, featuring a proper GIANT PIG and no crap with cults, hillbillies, the town from Twin Peaks and the rest of it.
Until next time,