Cinophile: Razorback

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Australia is said to be dangerous place, filled with all manners of poisonous insects, man-eating animals, lethal plants and redneck politicians. Let’s add Giant Boars to that list as well. In Australia pork eats you – and it isn’t picky either…

In a small town in the remote Australian Outback, an old hunter is put on trial for the murder of his grandson. He claims a wild pig – a razorback – had attacked the house and dragged the boy into the night. The court acquits him on a lack of evidence, but nobody believes the story about the giant pig. Then an American journalist arrives three years later to investigate a local dog food factory, but instead runs into the same animal.

Razorback was the first feature film by Russell Mulcahy, who would later garner fame with Highlander. At face value it is just like every other animal horror: a giant beast goes after humans and proves to be quite unstoppable. And at face value Razorback looks and sounds a lot like an American movie made in Australia, but other than the lead actors this fully comes from the land down under. The movie has this offbeat sense to it: the characters border on the surreal, the plot throws curves you weren’t expecting, dry jokes keep rolling off the script and there is even space for one trippy dream sequence.

But Razorback is not a horror comedy like Shawn of the Dead or Bad Taste. It’s more a Jaws that oinks, but by the continent that gave us Mad Max and Priscilla: Queen Of the Desert. In reality the monster pig is not really the big draw card here. Let’s be frank: 1984 was not exactly equipped to bring a massive people-eating pig to life. Fortunately Razorback has character – and that is literal. Befitting for an Ozzie film, even the minor characters have personality and everyone is fun to watch. It helps that the film throws a few unexpected deaths , so you are never too certain of who may or may not survive this adventure.

Despite peddling in horror cliches, Razorback manages to be something altogether original. Unfortunately audiences of the day didn’t see it that way and it did quite poorly. Even today many animal horror lists overlook this movie, but it remains alive as an obscure classic. If you are a studio exec, this might be worth a remake…

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Razorback
Director Russell Mulcahy made a name directing music videos for Duran Duran, Elton John, the Rolling Stones and more. Seeing Razorback as a chance to move into movies, his breakthrough would only arrive two years later with Highlander.
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Razorback has one contemporary: the horror movie Rogue, where a giant crocodile takes aim at a stranded groups of tourists on an Australian river. Rogue‘s final death scene has a close resemblance to a scene in Razorback, a tip of the hat to its predecessor.
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An animatronic pig was created for the movie at a cost of $250,000, but it only appears for a second in the movie.

Cinophile is a weekly feature showcasing films that are strange, brilliant, bizarre and explains why we love the movies.

Last Updated: July 7, 2014

James

A total movie glutton, nothing is too bad or too obscure to watch, unless it's something like The Human Centipede. If you enjoyed that, there is something wrong with you. But bless you anyway - even video nasties need love...

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