Razorback (1984)

FEBRUARY 21, 2010


I was overjoyed to hear that the New Bev was going to show Razorback as the monthly Shock Till You Drop screening, but not because I loved the movie (in fact, I had never seen it, hence why it's my review for the day), but because director Russell Mulcahy was going to attend the screening, and thus I could finally talk to him about his video for Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse Of The Heart", written by my hero Jim Steinman. And he did! Not at length, because I'm sure he'd rather talk about his film work than a 30 year old music video, but he told a delightful anecdote about Ms. Tyler, so it evens out.

And the movie was pretty good, so bonus! Like all Australian horror movies it seems, it was written by Everett De Roche (Patrick, Long Weekend (both of them), Dark Forces, Storm Warning, Roadgames... the list presumably goes on), a man who is a damn good writer. All of these movies are a little out there in terms of plotting, and deliver strong characters and well placed humor, two things I didn't expect from a killer pig movie.

I also like De Roche's mean streak (though the film was based on a novel by another writer, so maybe credit belongs to him for this one). There are two characters I thought for sure would be "safe" in the film, and yet both of them (and a dog!) bite it. But it's not done in a mean-spirited, Silent Night Deadly Night kind of way, but more of a realistic, this giant fucking pig doesn't care about Hollywood's "rules" way. The hero's fiance dies because she has nothing to defend herself, instead of living because it makes for a happier ending. And I like that. Though killing the dog was a bit much (my family dog passed a month ago - I'm still bummed out), especially when it's not a victim of the pig but of two Road Warrior rejects who we already hate anyway.

And despite this being Mulcahy's first film, it's well directed and stylish. Nothing against his brethren, but it's rare I see an Australian horror film and find the "look" of it particularly interesting, but Razorback is definitely exception. He overuses the fog machine sometimes, but even when the pig isn't around, the movie will grab your attention due to the framing (it's scope, yay!), fog/lighting combinations, and frequent but still well placed low angle shots. The DP was Dean Semler, who has shot half of the action/adventure movies you've heard of, and even directed two of his own (Firestorm and Seagal's The Patriot) before returning to cinematography.

One thing Mulcahy sort of botches, though I suspect this is more of a budget thing than a stylistic choice, is certain money shots. When the biggest asshole of the movie finally gets his, it's mostly off-screen, and Razorback has nothing to do with his almost-as-assholish buddy's largely suggested demise. Likewise, when Razorback is finally done away with (spoiler!), it looks like it was edited for TV - he's on a conveyor belt heading for a fan, and then he's in it. Come on, this fucker has mowed down a whole bunch of people (even a kid!) - I want to see him get his! The movie is a bit long at times too, so I wish Mulcahy had cut down on some of the dilly-dally and put that money toward delivering a few applause-worthy moments in the kill scenes.

Back to what I liked - it's nice to see Gregory Harrison as a heroic lead, as I primarily only know him from his asshole roles on various TV shows (Ed for example) and as the villain in Mulcahy's recent (and pretty awesome) Give Em Hell, Malone. And the score by Iva Davies is also great (sort of Tangerine Dream-esque); it's a shame he wouldn't compose another film again until Peter Weir's Master & Commander, nearly 20 years later.

Also, any touching moment revolving around a personal object found in a giant pig's poop is automatically a good movie. Harrison finds his fiance's engagement ring inside a pile of dung late in the film, and they play some sad music... but it's still a scene about a guy reaching into poop. Well played.

The DVD for Region 1 is barebones (and only available through Warner Bros' website - huh?), but Region 4 (Australia, natch) has a pretty nice special edition, which I would totally pick up if my all-region player hadn't busted. Between this and Region 4 being the best release of Armageddon (the director's cut, with all the extras, and an anamorphic transfer), maybe I should just move there and hang out with Everett De Roche.

What say you?

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


  1. "...he told a delightful anecdote about Ms. Tyler, so it evens out."

    You're leaving us hanging here!

  2. Oh I meant to do a * postscript and forgot. Basically she didn't get the video and called him a "pre-vert". And then after the song went #1 and it came time to do another video, she called him up and asked him to do it, and he told her to fuck off.

  3. Ha, nice. Hate to gloat but picked this one up as the special ed. @ a local 2nd had dealer for $8. Guess that happens when your downunder. (Another perk...Sweet!) May I suggest (a gentle prompt) to view & review of the totally wack 'Posession' (1981)starring Sam Neil, (still amazed you've missed it thus far, and you call yourself a horror fan! ;) Will burn itself into your mind for ever....so it must be good right?


  4. I used to watch this all the time when it would come on cable. Recently I tracked down the R4 edition and find that I still love it minus some of Mulcahy's quirkier moments (i.e. the hallucination sequence).
    I also watched the lengthy documentary on the making of it and was quite disappointed to find out Arkie Whiteley, the painfully cute Sarah, died of cancer in '01.


Movie & TV Show Preview Widget