Deadly Movies Reviews | Razorback (1984)
Razorback is a seriously odd proposition. It’s certainly marketed (these days at least) as a creature feature come animals attack flick, that’s certainly how I came across it. It definitely is about a giant warring hairy pig (aka boar, or in colloquial Australian ‘Razorback’), that much can’t be denied. But Russell Mulcahy’s early career film is a bag of mixed beans, some monster movie, some trippy student flick, some loving testament to the beauty of the Australian outback, and some Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s an odd mix that makes the film equally disjointed and intriguing.
Falling somewhere towards the rear-end of the post Jaws (1975) creature feature explosion, you can imagine that an Australian movie about a killer pig may not have set international box offices alight (doing all of $80k in Reagan’s US), but there’s a strange black magic at play in this film. When an American Journo goes missing in the Aussie outback (killed by giant pig, harassed by horny locals) her widowed husband, Carl, goes hunting for answers. In the meantime a very obvious Quint rip-off has been hunting said giant pig since it made slop of his angelic grandson. When Carl arrives in 1980’s Australia (which seems more like the 1880’s given the state of society) he realises his wife’s death may have more to do with human harassment than simple pig-kill.
Here’s where Razorback gets interesting and surprisingly weird. The nasty Australian human element are clearly influenced by the first two Mad Max movies (1979 and 1981). They wear clothes that wouldn’t look out-of-place in Alex’s gang in A Clockwork Orange (1971) and are obsessed with killing and slaughtering animals, and one suspects, people (in fact they have a nifty factory for slicing, dicing, and skinning). Like the home of Leatherface this is a tourists worst nightmare. For large periods of time you are invited by the filmmakers to forget about any giant pigs and fear the backward, outback, subterranean, murderous sibling humans. These bizarre brothers are actually very well-played and constructed, making for unsettling adversaries. The fear of these two vagabonds inspire trippy scenes of fear set amongst Dali style dream landscapes.
This is all well and good, except this film is supposed to be about a giant pig. You’ll notice I haven’t really mentioned the pig, that’s because it’s so in-and-out of the film that it’s hard to recall. The pig is actually quiet well realised with puppetry and animatronics. Imagine The Texas Chainsaw Massacree where half the teens run from Leatherface and half from a killer squirrel, and that’s what you get with Razorback. There’s substantial effort put into the final ten minutes where the film struggles to convince us that the movie was about killer bacon after-all.., except it isn’t. It’s enjoyably, beautifully shot, surprisingly dark and menacing, and more than a little confusing for virgin eyes.., like a bacon sandwich with added strawberry jam.