Prior to seeing RAZORBACK for the first time, I had constantly heard it referred to as the “killer pig” movie. Of course, as a young and impressionable horror fan this sounded awesome. I had images of a rabid Babe just running rampant on the farm looking for blood and quickly and messily dismembering the likes of James Cromwell. In its own strange way, RAZORBACK, fulfills these fantasies yet at the same time rises above them in a way I never expected.
The film is directed by Russel Mulcahey who is all over the map of genre cinema, though does not have much other work in ozploitation. His major success is attributed to HIGHLANDER and he was recently responsible for RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION. In all honesty, I’m not a fan of most of Mulcahey’s work. Actually, to say that the only film of his I enjoy at all is RAZORBACK, though I do have a slight guilty fascination with THE SHADOW, but we’ll forget that I just admitted to that. Surprisingly enough, considering this is his debut film, I’d argue that this is Mulcahey’s most impressive work as a filmmaker. It is stunning to look at, which is pretty par for the course with Australian cinema for some reason, with some shots even rivaling the high genre standards for visual awe set by the likes of Dario Argento.
RAZORBACK is based off of a novel by Peter Brennan, which I have not read and thus cannot compare the film to. The film certainly does not seem to have come from a literary source, considering how completely fucking ridiculous it is at times, so I’m going to assume they exaggerated some elements of Brennan’s book, if not just added material for the sole purpose of being exploitative. Which brings us the the “ozploitation” itself. This really isn’t as nasty as some of the other ozploitation favorites out there, such as WAKE IN FRIGHT, but when it gets dirty it does so really well. There is no shortage of pig attacks here, which certainly satiated my pre-teen fantasies of a killer Babe and the pig, or “razorback”, itself is rather impressive to behold. The creature itself is perhaps the best thing this film has going for it. This was made in 1984 after all, before the days of widespread CGI use and clearly these actors were not getting chased by some real, giant killer pig. This animatronic beast is entirely believable though, I’d even go so far as to say it is on par with some of the dinosaurs in JURASSIC PARK. This could have a great deal to do with how the film is lit though as this is an incredibly dark film. We very rarely see the razorback in any sort of well lit conditions and as such don’t get quite a good look at it as it is typically running while shrouded in darkness. Regardless, the creature so prominently featured in the title of the film, as well as in my vivid, gore soaked imagination, lives up to the potential of the concept and provides the catalyst for plenty of death scenes which I won’t spoil here.
It is safe to say that I really dig the film and I have so for a while, however, until recently it was really difficult to track down a DVD. There is a rather elaborate Australian disc out there with a long making-of documentary and gory footage that was cut from theatrical release, but it was insanely expensive to go about importing and I just never mustered up the will (or money) to do so. Anchor ‘Bay also put a disc out in the UK but it was pretty bland and didn’t seem worth the hassle of importing. Finally, just last year, Warner Brothers released an R1 disc through their Warner Archive program. The disc has no special features outside of a theatrical trailer but it does have a great transfer in its original aspect ratio. It is a shame that they did not go through the trouble to attempt to license the features found on the Australian disc, but with such a niche title as this it is understandable. Considering you can get the DVD for under $10 during one of their sales, it is hard to not recommend to fans of the film or those who want to see it for the first time.