SEPTEMBER 13, 2010
Many things surprised me about Pig Hunt (or Pighunt, depending on what side of the DVD case you look at), but the most unexpected thing was that it was actually a very useful source of information. So join me as I count the things that we as a people can learn from this "not just a" giant pig movie from Fangoria's Frightfest series.
1. Hippies are evil. Some of us already knew this (and that you should never follow them to a second location), but Pig Hunt offers incontrovertible proof, as they turn out to be the film’s real villains, after the red herrings of local rednecks and giant pigs. Sure, they are no saints either, but the rednecks only go after the city folk after they kill one of their own, and the pigs are seemingly under the control of the hippies, so you can’t put all their actions on them.
2. Film still exists. Despite being a low budget independent horror film from the mid to late 00’s, Pig Hunt was shot on honest to goodness film (Super 16 I believe), and it gives it the appropriate look for its 70s Grindhouse feel. Apart from a cell phone and references to the war in Iraq, the film could very well have been made in 1977 or so – even the pigs are all real (and thus rarely seen), and the big "Hogzilla" is an animatronic/puppet thing, which is a bit stiff but still miles better than some ugly CGI abomination.
3. “From The Director Of Skinwalkers” is apparently a good thing, somewhere. The box art for the film features a giant pig with blood dripping out of its mouth, standing on a pile of human skulls. Why mar that with a blurb that might actually turn people away? James Isaac’s Skinwalkers is a terrible, terrible movie that was also a giant box office failure – who the hell thought it would be a good idea to remind anyone that it exists at all, let alone that it shares a director with the film they’re trying to promote?
4. The Alien shot has officially been overused. You know the one – our monster will get in close to our hero and snort or breath or something, inches away from their terrified (but trying to be still) face. It’s been used to good effect in a few films (Spiral comes to mind, and it’s subtle enough that you might even miss it), but this one is just a complete annoyance, as have a few recent other uses. Worse, the scene where its used is a bit too similar to the one in Rogue for my tastes, so the climax just feels copied from other movies (Rogue was shot well over a year before this film, for the record).
5. No one can ever make a killer pig movie that’s just a killer pig movie. This is I believe the 3rd or 4th one I’ve watched for HMAD, and all of them turn out to have other (human) villains. Pigs are giant things that love to eat – why do they always feel that we need an explanation for them to want to eat us? Ultimately, the pigs only kill one or two folks in the film, whereas hippies/rednecks rack up about a dozen. That said, the movie is actually sort of charmingly all over the place, with hippie communes, pot farms, killer pigs, redneck priests... I can safely say that this is the least generic James Isaac movie ever.
6. “Annoying fat guy” characters can die without the audience caring. The annoying fat guy in a horror movie is a staple going back decades, but a lot of them are sort of endearing in their own way. Franklin from Texas Chain Saw, Shelley from Friday 3... these guys are a pain in the ass, sure, but I was still sad when they died. But the guy here? I couldn’t wait for him to die, as he whined and moaned before anything bad happened and then whined and moaned twice as much when it did. Hell, he has a dog, and I didn’t even get sad when it died, because if nothing else it was a guarantee that his owner wouldn’t be too far behind him in hell. Grats to the rednecks for blowing his goddamn head off.
7. Les Claypool is a lazy composer. I’m not much of a Primus/Claypool fan anyway, but even their biggest fans would probably get annoyed by the credit saying “Music by Les Claypool” (with a smaller, “additional music” credit for David Russo) when it’s just the same riff over and over, repeated ad nauseum throughout the film. It’s actually part of an equally annoying song called "Booneville Stomp" (which we hear once or twice in the film as well), so I’m not sure how he got the music credit anyway. He also appears in the film as one of the rednecks.
8. I’m a big ol’ softy. The movie is far from perfect, but I was actually kind of digging it for a while, and that’s due to the fact that the rednecks and the city folk were actually getting along and bonding, instead of just antagonizing each other until the breaking point. They’re introduced as sort of would-be villains, but before long they’re sharing their booze, helping the amateurs learn about how to skin a pig, even comparing scars! I was happy to see rednecks portrayed as non-villains for once. And then they become villains, after one of the city guys shoots one (sort of in self-defense) and the other goes back to their “town” and rallies the troops. Once the action kicks back up (i.e. evil hippies) things get back on track, but still, I was really enjoying seeing them get along. Like I’ve said a million times, it’s much more interesting to me when a “bad” person starts doing good things, as the other way around just often feels like a cheap shock for shock’s sake.
9. We can still get no-bullshit commentaries on DVDs. It’s funny, ever since that disclaimer started appearing at the top of every disc (“The views in the commentary are that of the speaker and in no way reflect...”), commentaries have become chores to sit through for the most part, as they’re always so PC. Not the case here – Isaac and one of his producers are pretty up front about everything, from bitching at actors for complaining (and not getting nude) during the shoot and other production issues, to discussing on-screen hand-jobs, to how they feel about pigs (“they should all be killed”). It’s informative and entertaining! There’s also a 40 minute making of that’s a bit too long, since a lot of it is just behind the scenes footage with no narration or context, but again, at least it’s not watered down fluff (it actually starts with a guy bitching about DVD extras, so there you go).
So that’s what I learned from Pig Hunt. Ironically, I’ve actually had a screener of the film for about two and a half years now, and never bothered, assuming it was wretched since I haven’t been a fan of Isaac’s other films (all of which had long delays as well – hmmm). But I was pleasantly surprised – it’s entertaining but not silly, and surprising without being loaded with plot twists. This makes the current Fangoria Frightfest score 3-2, not bad! Next is Grimm Love (another one I've had a screener of forever - it seems almost all of the Fango films are just long-shelved pickups), which is about a dude who asked to be castrated and eaten by his gay lover. And I’m not joking when I say it’s based on a true story.
What say you?