Razorback (1984)
Razorback (1984)

Genre: Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 35 min.

Release Date: November 16th, 1984 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Russell Mulcahy Actors: Gregory Harrison, Arkie Whiteley, Bill Kerr, Judy Morris, John Howard, John Ewart

 


 

I

n Australia, a colossal, mutant pig ransacks Jake Cullen’s (Bill Kerr) house, setting it ablaze in the skirmish and making off with his two-year-old grandson. Cullen is tried for murder, as few people are willing to believe his story about a killer animal, but the case is dismissed due to a lack of evidence. After the incident, the professional kangaroo shooter and wildlife expert dedicates his life to hunting boars. According to Jake, razorbacks are covered in a thick shield of bristles and don’t succumb to gunfire like most creatures, since they don’t possess a nervous system.

In New York, news reporter and animal rights campaigner Beth Winters (Judy Morris) is given an assignment to cover a kangaroo slaughterhouse in Australia. She journeys there with her trusty cameraman to uncover the disturbing truths behind the Petpak Cannery, run by two incredibly grungy, hideous, kangaroo hunter brothers: one-eyed Benny (Chris Haywood) and mole-faced Dicko (David Argue). Her presence upsets many of the residents of Gamulla, near Sydney; when she pokes around at Petpak, she’s terrorized, run off the road, and nearly raped – only to be momentarily rescued by the reappearance of the gargantuan razorback… before it makes a meal of her.

The police insist that Beth fell down a mineshaft, but her husband Carl Winters (Gregory Harrison) thinks otherwise, and so he travels down under in search of facts. Once there, he meets up with Jake, who’s still bitter and intent on tracking down the monstrous boar, and Sarah Cameron (Arkie Whiteley), a young woman taken in by the trapper when her parents died. As they attempt to locate the murderous swine, they must also continue to thwart the villainous Petpack crew – once again proving that with every movie monster there are also human antagonists to supplement the evilness.

Quite a few clever segue shots and scene transitions highlight the unique editing of “Razorback,” paired nicely with macabre, creepy sets, and surrealistic nightmares consisting of snout-faced women, whinnying horse skeletons, and Martian landscapes. Unfortunately, the film suffers from a conspicuously daft main character, who makes classic monster movie mistakes, including comically stumbling all over the place during escapes, feebly fighting for his life, and allowing the creature plenty of time to sneak up behind him. It also doesn’t help that there’s an obvious reluctance to show the hulking squealer, especially in full-body shots that would have aided in establishing its frightening size.

Director Russell Mulcahy doesn’t have the most outstanding career, being primarily known for “Highlander” and a few cult films (“Tale of the Mummy,” “Resurrection,” “Resident Evil: Extinction”), but “Razorback” stands out as one of his earliest and most enjoyable works. A low budget and mediocre cast can’t stop him from delivering a production with obvious enthusiasm. Though an occasionally effective animal cruelty subtext makes its way into the picture, it’s the monster movie aspects that clearly work best. Complete with an expected low-angle pig cam, humorous gore, a love story between Carl and Sarah (unconvincingly placed immediately after his wife dies), and unpredictable casualties, “Razorback” offers dependable ‘80s B-movie thrills. And it also happens to be the only mainstream horror flick with a giant, killer hog.

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10

 

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